Weds 9 February - Psalm 39
1 I said, ‘I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
while in the presence of the wicked.’
2 So I remained utterly silent,
not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
3 my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:
4 ‘Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure.
6 ‘Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
without knowing whose it will finally be.
7 ‘But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.
8 Save me from all my transgressions;
do not make me the scorn of fools.
9 I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
you consume their wealth like a moth –
surely everyone is but a breath.
12 ‘Hear my prayer, Lord,
listen to my cry for help;
do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
before I depart and am no more.’
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Meditation on Psalm 39
What a roller-coaster we are on as we meditate on these Psalms. A week ago we were rejoicing in Psalm 32 at the forgiveness of our sins and the unfailing love of the LORD.
Here we are now, back to our sins and the brevity of life. It seems that the psalmist is on a real ‘downer’.
Isn’t that sometimes true for each of us?
We are rejoicing in our salvation; we are rejoicing in the hope we have; we are rejoicing in the ongoing forgiveness of our sins, which are many – we are singing, we are praying, we are full of the joy of the Lord.
Then comes the ‘big bang’ – we are wallowing in our sinfulness; we are frightened about the brevity of life; we are afraid of what next.
Perhaps that’s not you so don’t go looking for that!
Perhaps it is you and you are feeling overwhelmed – maybe work related; home related; family related; friends related; faith related. You are struggling with doubts and swimming in a sea of questions.
You are in good company with Job, who was described by the LORD as, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears Gd and shuns evil.”
Now listen to Job – Job 7:1-4 (CEV) – “Why is life so hard? Why do we suffer? We are slaves in search of shade; we are labourers longing for our wages. God has made my days drag on and my nights miserable. I pray for the night to end but it stretches out while I toss and turn.”
Or come to the book of Ecclesiastes where there is one word that is used often – ‘meaningless’.
The opening verses are a commentary on what David is saying: “Meaningless, Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”
- DAVID’S SILENT PAIN Verses 1-3
David was careful in what he said and how he spoke when in the company of those who had no thought of God. He wanted to ask questions, to raise issues, to challenge his faith.
But he didn’t. He didn’t want to give any of ‘the wicked’ the opportunity to challenge him, even though he was burning inside.
When reading Psalm 38 you can tell the hurt and the pain he is suffering from some unknown disease and he cries out, “LORD do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and Saviour.”
And now, he bursts out – ‘then I spoke with my tongue.’
- DAVID’S SEARCH FOR REALITY Verses 4-6
James puts these verses into context – ‘Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. You ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
David is not asking the Lord to give him the date and time of his last breath but, rather, to understand that life comes and goes very quickly in the greater scheme of things.
Verse 6 is a good summary of the book of Ecclesiastes.
Remember the song? ‘Only one life, will soon be passed; only what’s done for Christ will last’
- DAVID’S PERSONAL PRAYER Verses 8-13
David recognises the hand of God on his life – “you are the one who has done this” and he longs for God to hear his prayer and answer him.
As Job longed for God to hear his cries, so David longs for God to hear his cries.
Just as God tested Job, so he is testing David, so He tests us His children.
- “remove your scourge from me…”
- “hear my prayer”
- “listen to my cry for help”
- “do not be deaf to my weeping”
David longs to enjoy life again before his life comes to an end.
- WHERE DOES DAVID GO / WHERE DO I GO? Verse 7
Here is the one bright light in this psalm.
Perhaps you are asking this same question – “Lord, what do I look for?”
MY HOPE IS IN YOU.
As the song says – ’My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.’
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