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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Writings

Psalms 39

Verses 1-13


The silence of a godly soul, in the presence of the reproaches of the wicked, when under the chastening of God for his sin.

(vv. 1-3) In the presence of the wicked the soul remains dumb. Seeing that he is being chastened of God for his own failure it was not fitting that he should reply to their reproaches, even though he knows their motive to be hatred of the godly. He might have retorted; it would, however, have led him into sinning with his tongue. Thus he restrained himself, and held his peace, even from speaking good. Nevertheless, when keeping silence, his heart burned within him.

(vv. 4-6) When at length he speaks, it is to the Lord. His own failure, and the wickedness of men, who take occasion by the failure of the saints to exalt themselves, bring home to the godly soul the frailty of man. He would fain learn through this trial the shortness of life, the weakness of the flesh, and the vanity of the world. It is but a vain show, in which men put themselves to infinite trouble to heap up riches which they have to leave.

(vv. 7-11) The godly soul looks beyond the “vain show” to the Lord, the One for whom he waits, and in whom is all his hope. To the Lord he looks for deliverance from his transgressions, as well as from the reproaches of the foolish that they have entailed. He dare not defend himself for the Lord had sent the stroke. He who sent it can alone remove it. Under the rebuke of the Lord all the comeliness of man withers like the fleeting beauty of a moth.

(vv. 12-13) Having owned his sin and weakness, the soul looks to God to hear his prayer; to let his tears speak before God, that he may be spared and recover strength, before he leaves the scene of his pilgrimage.

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 39". "Smith's Writings". 1832.