Psalm 38:1-22

A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance.

1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!

For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down.

There is no soundness in my flesh
Because of Your anger,
Nor any health in my bones
Because of my sin.

For my iniquities have gone over my head;
Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

My wounds are foul and festering
Because of my foolishness.

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

For my loins are full of inflammation,
And there is no soundness in my flesh.

I am feeble and severely broken;
I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.

Lord, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You.

10 My heart pants, my strength fails me;
As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.

11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague,
And my relatives stand afar off.

12 Those also who seek my life lay snares for me;
Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction,
And plan deception all the day long.

13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;
And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth.

14 Thus I am like a man who does not hear,
And in whose mouth is no response.

15 For in You, O Lord, I hope;
You will hear, O Lord my God.

16 For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me,
Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.”

17 For I am ready to fall,
And my sorrow is continually before me.

18 For I will declare my iniquity;
I will be in anguish over my sin.

19 But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong;
And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied.

20 Those also who render evil for good,
They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.

21 Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, be not far from me!

22 Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!

To bring to remembrance (intro) — more literally, “for bringing to remembrance” — which suggests that it may have been recited in connection with the Feast of Trumpeting (known today as “Rosh ha-Shanah,” or the Jewish New Year festival), which is specifically described as “a memorial” (Leviticus 23:24).  Further supporting this connection is parallel thematic focus between this psalm and the Feast of Trumpets — to wit, in the latter, on personal refinement (symbolized by the “fire offering” mentioned in Leviticus 23:25) — i.e., the intended outcome of divine chastisement — and, in this psalm, on the individual’s proper response to God’s chastisement. — Wechsler, pages 112-113

One of the penitential psalm. The others are 6, 32, 51, 102, 130 and 143.

rebuke and chasten (v.1) — primarily the responsibilities of a father — David is approaching God as his Father. (Psalm 6:1)

David believes that it is his sin that has brought on his troubles (v.3). He describes the effects of that sin on him physically (vs. 3 and 7) and emotionally (vs. 6 and 8).

feeble (v.8) = numb, faint, sluggish

It is important to note that David expresses this sense of overpowering distress and powerlessness within the context of relationship and proximity to God — as indicated not only by his very act of directly addressing God throughout this psalm, but also by his declaration in v.9 that all his desire is before God and his sighing is not hidden from Him — i.e., God knows David is aggrieved over his sins and desires restoration to a healthy relationship/communion with his Lord (cf. 2 Samuel 7:20). — Wechsler, pages 113-114

my loved ones and my friends stand aloof (v.11) — Psalm 31:11

response (v.14) = argument, refutation

for in You, O Lord, I hope (v.15) — David affirms his dependence on God

I will declare my iniquity (v.18) — Psalm 32:5

As is generally the case, Williams sees a Messianic theme in this psalm.

The psalm reveals the thoughts that filled the heart of Jesus up to, and upon the Cross. The statements of verse 13 link the psalm to Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:22-24, etc. It describes His sympathetic intercession for His people, justly suffering the wrath of God because of their sins; and it records the hatred and ingratitude  of those who ought to have loved Him. He came unto His own but His own received Him not. Himself sinless, He here loads Himself with the believers’ sins; makes full confession of them; admits the justice of the Divine wrath against them; and utters no reproach against those members of His nation who sought to destroy Him. He does not excuse or belittle sin; nor does He murmur at the wrath of God against it. He magnifies that wrath, and reposes in the righteousness of that Judge of all the earth. — Williams, page 326.

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