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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 39

 

 

Verses 1-13

XXXIX. Prayer of a Pious Israelite in Distress.

Psalms 39:3. The poet, afflicted though he is, is silent in presence of the wicked, lest they should impugn or ridicule God's righteous government of the world. But silence is unendurable.

Psalms 39:1. Read, "I will set a muzzle on my mouth" (LXX).

Psalms 39:2. The LXX suggests a better text: "I am bowed down with misery," "I am far from welfare."

Psalms 39:4-6. The Psalmist begs God to teach him how brief, uncertain, and vain life is.

Psalms 39:5. Read, "Surely every man standing firm is vanity" (cf. mg.). But the text is evidently corrupt.

Psalms 39:7-13. The Psalmist, repeating his former complaints, prays for pardon and delivery.

Psalms 39:11. like a moth: cf. Job 4:19.

Psalms 39:12. The Psalmist is a "stranger and settler"; he is therefore under the Divine protection and is entitled to claim it.

It has been maintained by Duhm that in this Ps. the author had the idea of conscious and personal immortality before him. He longs to know whether his life, or at least his full conscious life, is to cease with death, and asks God to teach him this mystery. "Let me know whether I shall cease to be" (Psalms 39:4 emended). But there is no clear indication that the Psalmist had any such question in his mind. The same scholar puts aside Psalms 39:8; Psalms 39:10; Psalms 39:12 f. as no part of the original poem. They are, no doubt, inconsistent with the rest of the Ps., as Duhm interprets it. In these the poet is busy not with thoughts of life after death, but with external adversity, and Psalms 39:13 takes for granted that death ends all. If we accept Duhm's interpretation, Psalms 39 would be one of the most interesting in the Psalter, because it would, in a very striking manner, prepare the way for belief in the immortality of the righteous. But Duhm's reasons are very precarious, and can be read into the Ps. only by the help of emendation. Surely if the question of immortality had occasioned the poet's perplexity, he would have expressed himself more clearly.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Psalms 39:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/psalms-39.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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