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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 38

 

 

Verse 1

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

The Title. - A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance - i:e., to bring to God's remembrance the seemingly forgotten suppliant. That it supposes sorrowful supplication, appears from its being the title also of Psalms 70:1-5, which is characterized by the same tone. Akin to this phrase is the term "memorial" or remembrance offering [za'kaaraah] (Leviticus 2:2; Leviticus 2:9; Leviticus 2:16; cf. Psalms 141:2; Revelation 8:4; Acts 10:4; Isaiah 43:26; Isaiah 62:6, margin), designed to bring God to remember His people (His Word graciously stooping to our human conceptions). The memorial offering was that part of the meat offering which was burned with frankincense upon the altar, and of which the sweet smell ascended to heaven (Genesis 8:21).

Psalms 38:1-22.-He deprecates Yahweh's hot displeasure (Psalms 38:1); his three-fold plea, his suffering in flesh (Psalms 38:2-8); his outward assaults by enemies, and desertion by friends (Psalms 38:9-12); his patience, sorrow for sin, and hope in Yahweh, as his resource against those who render evil for good (Psalms 38:13-20); concluding prayer (Psalms 38:21-22).

O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath - against "mine iniquity" (Psalms 38:18). The fact that there is no suffering without "sin," and that affliction is the expression of God's "wrath" against our sin, gives the special sting to the believer's pain. His sins now rise before him with a blackness such as he never saw in them in past times of ease. His enemies seem as so many executioners of God's judicial displeasure. The suffering which the believer could have patiently borne otherwise, when viewed in this light, prostrates him alike in body and soul.


Verse 2

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

The plea of His prayer; he is now arrived at such a crisis of anguish, and restlessness of body and mind, that God cannot but interpose to save from destruction His praying child.

For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. The same Hebrew ( nachat (Hebrew #5181)) is translated differently in the two clauses. The common idea in both is downward pressure. Compare as to the "arrows" - i:e., the chastisements of sin sent by God - Job 6:4; Deuteronomy 32:23. As to the heavy pressure of God's hand, cf. Psalms 32:4; Psalms 39:10.


Verse 3

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

Neither is there any rest ( shaalowm (H7965); peace or soundness) in my bones, because of my sin. He recognizes in his suffering the expression of God's anger at his sin. The imagery is repeated in Isaiah 1:5-6.


Verse 4

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

For mine iniquities are gone over mine head - like waves over a drowning man (Psalms 42:7; Psalms 124:4-5; cf. Psalms 40:12).

As an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. But they are not "too heavy" for Messiah, who, as the Sinbearer Himself, gives rest to the heavy laden (Matthew 11:28; Isaiah 53:4; Isaiah 53:6; Isaiah 53:11).


Verse 5

My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.

My wounds ... are corrupt ( naamaquw (Hebrew #4743)) - literally, melt away.

Because of my foolishness - perverse sin. The sinner is a fool, and errs not merely against God, but against his own soul (Psalms 14:1; Psalms 69:5; Proverbs 8:36).


Verse 6

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

I am troubled - Hebrew, ( `aawah (Hebrew #5753)), na`


Verse 7

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

For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease ( niqleh (Hebrew #7033)) - literally, with vileness; 'ignominy' (Jerome) - i:e., with such a loathsome disease as exposes me to mockings. So the Septuagint, Vulgate, Ethiopic, and Arabic. But the Chaldaic, 'with burning,' as the Hebrew often means (cf. Psalms 102:3). But the loins are not the seat of burning fever usually. Hengstenberg translates, 'are full of the dried' - i:e., are quite dried up, instead of being "full of fat," as "the loins" are in the healthy (Job 15:27). The English version is simplest.


Verse 8

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

I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. The bodily cry of the sufferer is the outward voice of his spiritual and inward anguish.


Verse 9

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

Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee - thine omniscience knows that I do not exaggerate my wretchedness in order to move thy compassion.


Verse 10

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

My heart panteth - palpitates.

As for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me - literally, they also (are) not with me. The light of mine eyes-nay, mine eyes themselves-are not with me (Psalms 13:3, note; 1 Samuel 14:27; 1 Samuel 14:29). The lack-luster eye betrays the failure of the vital power.


Verse 11

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

My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore - literally, 'stand over against my stroke.' At the very time when my affliction would have required them to stand nearer and more steadily by me than ever, they are afraid of the danger that they would incur by seeming to take part with me. While the enemies are near, the friends are far. So in the case of Messiah (Matthew 26:56; Matthew 27:55; Luke 23:49; John 16:32).


Verse 12

They 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.

They also that seek after my life lay snares for me. Malice in deed.

And they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things. Malice in word.

And imagine deceits all the day long. Malice in thought.


Verse 13

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

Not only the severity of his affliction, but also, as he here shows, his manner of bearing it-namely, silently and patiently-is a plea for deliverance.

But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. Instead of impatient self-justification, whereby men take away the vindication of their cause out of the hand of the Righteous Judge, he committed his cause to God (Psalms 38:9; Psalms 38:15). His enemies would give no candid hearing to the quiet representation of his right; to speak in angry excitement, under such circumstances, would not persuade them, and would only injure his own spirit. So when Shimei cursed David in his flight from Absalom, and when Abishai wished to kill the curser, the king replied, "So let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?" So the antitypical David, Messiah (Isaiah 42:2; Isaiah 53:7).


Verse 14

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

Thus I was as a man ... in whose mouth are no reproofs - or, 'no contradictions.' So when the children of Belial despised Saul saying, "How shall this man save us? he held his peace" - literally, 'he was as though he had been deaf' (1 Samuel 10:27). Above all, Messiah was silent when reproached before the high priest (Matthew 26:62-63), and before Pilate (John 19:9).


Verse 15

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

For in thee, O Lord do I hope - the ground of his patience.

Thou wilt hear, O Lord my God - `thou wilt answer;' I must therefore not forestall thee.


Verse 16

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

For I said, (Hear me) lest (otherwise) they should rejoice over me - or, 'For I speak (thus to thee; as stated in Psalms 38:15), lest,' etc.

When my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me - i:e., when any misfortune befalls me (Psalms 35:26).


Verse 17

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

For I am ready to halt - perpetually I am all but so disabled as not to stand upright and walk anymore. So Psalms 35:15, margin. I may well fear lest mine enemies "magnify themselves against me" (Psalms 38:16).

My sorrow is continually before me - my pain is my inseparable companion.


Verse 18

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

For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. The bitterest drop in his cup of suffering is that he feels his suffering is not undeserved; affliction brings to his vivid remembrance sins which he lost sight of in prosperity.


Verse 19

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

But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong. Whilst the sufferer is like one dead, through want of strength, his enemies are full of life and strength.

And they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied - (Psalms 35:19.) Especially true of Messiah (John 15:25).


Verse 20

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

They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is - The more "I follow" that which is for their good, as well as the good of all men, the more they hate me (Psalms 35:12). What ought to melt their hearts into love, only hardens them in hatred. Compare on the word "follow," etc., Hebrews 12:14; also Romans 12:18; Romans 12:21; Romans 14:19; Psalms 34:14, "Seek peace, and pursue it" - namely, even though it flee from you.

Conclusion, summing up the prayer, Save me speedily, forsaken as I am by man.


Verse 21-22

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

O my God, be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation. The same voice as in Psalms 22:19. Compare also Psalms 35:3.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 38:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-38.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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