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38. Psalm 38

O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

2For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.

3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.

4For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

5My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.

6I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.

7For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.

8I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.

9Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.

10My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.

11My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.

12They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.

13But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.

14Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs.

15For in thee, O Lord, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.

16For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me.

17For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me.

18For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.

19But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.

20They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is.

21Forsake me not, O Lord: O my God, be not far from me.

22Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.

4. For my iniquities have passed over my head. Here he complains that he is overwhelmed by his sins as by a heavy burden, so that he utterly faints under their weight; and yet he again confirms the doctrine which we have already stated, that he deservedly suffered the wrath of God, which had been inflicted on him in a manner so severe and dreadful. The word עון, avon, which we have translated iniquities, no doubt often signifies punishment, but this is only in a secondary and metaphorical sense. I am also willing to admit, that David assigns to the effect what is proper to the cause, when he describes by the appellation iniquities, the punishment which he had procured by his own sin; and yet his object at the same time is plainly and distinctly to confess, that all the afflictions which he suffered were to be imputed to his sins. He quarrels not with God for the extreme severity of his punishment, as Cain did, who said,

My punishment is greater than I can bear,” (Genesis 4:13.)

It is true, indeed, that Moses uses the same word עון, avon, in that passage, so that there is some similarity between the language of David and Cain. But David’s meaning is very different. When such temptations as these were insinuating themselves into his mind, Could God afflict thee more severely than he does? certainly, since he is doing nothing to relieve thee, it is a sure sign that he wishes thee destroyed and brought to nought; he not only despises thy sighs and groanings, but the more he seeth thee cast down and forsaken, he pursueth thee the more fiercely and with the greater rigour; — to preclude the entrance of such evil thoughts and surmisings, he defended himself as with a shield by this consideration, that he was afflicted by the just judgment of God. He has here attributed to his own sins as the cause the weight of the wrath of God which he felt; and, as we shall find in the following verse, he again acknowledges, that what he is now suffering was procured by his own foolishness. Although, then, in bewailing his own miseries, he may seem in some measure to quarrel with God, yet he still cherishes the humble conviction, (for God afflicteth not beyond measure,) that there is no rest for him but in imploring the Divine compassion and forgiveness; whereas the ungodly, although convicted by their own consciences of guilt, murmur against God, like the wild beasts, which, in their rage, gnaw the chains with which they are bound.


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