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The Believer's Attitude in View of the Apparent Happiness of the Godless.
To the chief musician, even to Jeduthun, or Ethan, the name of one of David's chief choristers, who was the leader of a family or choir of singers, active chiefly in the liturgical part of worship, a psalm of David.
v. 1. I said, I will take heed to my ways, to his entire manner of thinking and acting, that I sin not with my tongue, namely, by murmuring and complaining over his own misfortune as compared with the good fortune of the wicked; I will keep my mouth with a bridle, a muzzle, to prevent his lamenting, while the wicked is before me, in his presence, while he was compelled to see the godless prosper in the fullness of his power, in apparent enjoyment of everything that was good.
v. 2. I was dumb with silence, in trusting submission, I held my peace, even from good, away from prosperity, he shut his heart and mind off from everything and communed with God alone; and my sorrow was stirred, his fretting finally constrained him to cry out to the Lord.
v. 3. My heart was hot within me, his emotions like a smothered flame, seeking for an outlet; while I was musing, the fire burned, bursting through all repression. Then spake I with my tongue, directing his complaint to the Lord.
v. 4. Lord, make me to know mine end, give him the proper understanding of the vanity of this earthly life and the quickness with which it is cut off, and the measure of my days, what it is, that this measure may soon be filled up; that I may know how frail I am, a mortal being in the midst of perishable things. This thought is intended to stress, not so much the shortness of human life, as its utter vanity and therefore the folly of concerning one's self with the matters of this world to the exclusion of the one thing needful, the laying hold of God in faith and trust.
v. 5. Behold, Thou hast made my days as an handbreadth, a mere span of life being assigned to each mortal; and mine age is as nothing before Thee, before the face of the eternal God. Verily, every man at his best state, even when he seems to be most firmly established, is altogether vanity, transitory and perishable. Selah.
v. 6. Surely every man walketh in a vain show, an unsubstantial shadow like the image of himself cast on the ground by the light; surely they are disquieted in vain, only for a breath they make a noise, all their restless and noisy bustle with which they fret and stir themselves and elbow and jostle one another to obtain wealth and rank, is like a single breath; he heapeth up riches, that being the average person's chief concern in life, and knoweth not who shall gather them, dishonest adversaries or laughing heirs enjoying the fruit of his toil. With such contemplations the believer hushes the voice of his lamenting and extinguishes the fire of his murmuring.
v. 7. And now, Lord, what wait I for? Turning away with relief from the contemplation of earthly vanity, the believer lets his eyes rest upon the Lord. My hope is in Thee, all his trust grounded in Jehovah alone, in whom he has the fullness of all true joys.
v. 8. Deliver me from all my transgressions, which, as he knew, furnished abundant reasons for his own sufferings; make me not the reproach of the foolish, a target for the scorn of fools, whose mockery would, at the same time, bring disgrace upon the Lord.
v. 9. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, with reproachful lamenting directed against Jehovah, because Thou didst it, a confession with which he bows under the almighty hand of God.
v. 10. Remove Thy stroke away from me, which seemed like a blow by the hand of divine anger; I am consumed by the blow of Thine hand, as the Lord set Himself in battle against him, knowing that he was doomed to destruction if the Lord should continue His course of chastisement.
v. 11. When Thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, sending forth His punishment upon the guilty, Thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth; for just as garments disappear under the attack of moths, so the handsome appearance of man melts away under the stroke of divine chastisement. Surely every man is vanity, a mere breath, which disappears in a moment. Selah.
v. 12. Hear my prayer, O Lord, his appeal for relief being addressed to the mercy of Jehovah, and give ear unto my cry, in a gracious, compassionate answer; hold not Thy peace at my tears, which flowed with the depth of his suffering; for I am a stranger with Thee, a mere guest in this world, and a sojourner, like a person who is not a citizen of a country, but lives there merely by concession, as all my fathers were. Just as the patriarchs did not hold citizenship in the country where they dwelled, so all believers do not consider this earth their true home, their citizenship being in heaven, Php_3:20 .
v. 13. O spare me, turning from him the look of His angry face, that I may recover strength, being cheered in the midst of his troubles, before I go hence and be no more. Instead of being bound under wrath and chastened under displeasure, David longs for the face of God turned upon him in mercy, in order that he may give thanks and praise Him all his life. And so every believer, although oppressed with sin and sorrow, the anger of God and suffering, still turns to the heavenly Father in firm confidence, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us, Romans 5:3-5.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Psalms 39". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany