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This is a Ps. of great pathos and beauty. The writer’s sore sickness, accepted as the punishment of sin (Psalms 39:9-11), has impressed him with the frailty and vanity of human life. He refrains at first from all complaint lest his words should be sinful and harmful (Psalms 39:1-2). When he does speak it is to utter without bitterness his conviction of life’s brevity and nothingness (Psalms 39:3-6). He concludes with a humble prayer that though he is but a pilgrim on earth God may grant him pardon and recovery before he passes from the world (Psalms 39:7-13).
Title.—(RV) ’For the Chief Musician, for Jeduthun,’ etc. Jeduthun was one of the directors of sacred music in David’s time (1 Chronicles 16:41; 1 Chronicles 25:1). If the Ps. be of later origin the phrase in the title may mean ’after the manner of Jeduthun,’ as in Psalms 62, 77.
1. While the wicked is before me] The visible prosperity of the wicked afforded the temptation to complain.
2. Even from good] RM ’and had no comfort.’
3. Complete silence proved impossible. Pent-up feeling found a safe relief in prayer.
5. Vanity] or, ’a breath’ (Heb.).
6. In a vain shew] RM ’as a shadow,’ like a phantom in a dream: the eager efforts of life are contrasted with the emptiness of their results.
7. What wait I for?] If life ends in vanity what is there to hope for? The answer is ’God,’ and the meaning is not so much that God will be the soul’s portion in the future life, as that God’s presence here redeems life from its nothingness.
8. The foolish] those who have mocked at his troubles.
9. The characteristic tone of the whole Ps. is in these words. The writer accepts with reverent resignation all the facts and experiences of life.
11. This is another v. summing up the philosophy of the Ps. Makest his beauty, etc.] RM ’consumest like a moth his delights’: see Isaiah 50:7; Matthew 6:19.
12. Stranger.. sojourner] The fact that life is transient becomes here a plea for favour.
13. Spare me] lit. ’look away from me,’ ’avert thy frown.’ Recover strength] lit. ’brighten up.’ The day of life may be short, but the Psalmist seeks for sunshine while it lasts.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 39". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent