Psalm 38:11

ESV My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off.
NIV My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.
NASB My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague; And my kinsmen stand far away.
CSB My loved ones and friends stand back from my affliction, and my relatives stand at a distance.
NLT My loved ones and friends stay away, fearing my disease. Even my own family stands at a distance.
KJV My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.
NKJV My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, And my relatives stand afar off.

What does Psalm 38:11 mean?

Friends and relatives may distance themselves from the person who is ill and desperately needs comfort. Ironically, this seems more likely to happen when the person's suffering is spiritual or mental, as opposed to something like a sickness or injury. The context of this statement is David's suffering under conviction of his sin (Psalm 38:1–4, 8, 18). Either because of his drastic change in mood, or specifically because they despised his sin, David felt as if his friends and relatives were abandoning him.

The word "plague" may suggest leprosy. This is one of the physical afflictions people actively avoid interacting with, for fear of contamination. David's friends and relatives treated him as though he were a leper. In David's culture, persons thought to have highly contagious diseases were excluded from society (Leviticus 13:45). So, David experienced social pain, loneliness, and rejection.

The New Testament portrays Jesus as extending acceptance, love, and healing to lepers and other social outcasts. He healed lepers (Luke 17:11–19), restored a blind beggar's sight (Luke 18:35–43), befriended a despised tax collector (Luke 19:1–10), and forgave an adulterous woman (John 8:2–11). He invited everyone without exception to come to Him (Matthew 11:28) and promised, "Whoever comes to me I will never cast out" (John 6:37). Even in David's despair, he does not give up hope, but calls out to God in faith (Psalm 38:22).
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