Psalm 38:16

ESV For I said, "Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot slips!"
NIV For I said, "Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip."
NASB For I said, 'May they not rejoice over me, Who, when my foot slips, would exalt themselves over me.'
CSB For I said, "Don’t let them rejoice over me— those who are arrogant toward me when I stumble."
NLT I prayed, 'Don’t let my enemies gloat over me or rejoice at my downfall.'
KJV For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me.
NKJV For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me, Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.”

What does Psalm 38:16 mean?

As a warrior and king, David's enemies were eager to celebrate his defeat. Committing serious sin (Psalm 38:18; 2 Samuel 12:7–9) would provide political foes with an opportunity. David's sin (Psalm 38:1–4, 18) has given his enemies room to attack (Psalm 38:12). This is partly due to David's disabling sense of conviction for his crimes (Psalm 38:8). David is not hopeless (Psalm 38:15, 22) but he cries out in desperation. Therefore, David asks God to prevent his enemies from being able to gloat over him.

Scripture sometimes refers to sin using the imagery of walking, or a path, were someone takes a wrong step or leaves the designated trail (Proverbs 3:23; 4:14; Psalm 17:5). When a believer starts to stray from the Lord, it isn't long before sin leads to a fall and God's reputation is tarnished in the eyes of unbelievers (1 Peter 2:12; Romans 2:23–24). Christians must be alert to temptation and walk carefully (Ephesians 5:15) so they do not disgrace the Lord.

The book of Judges reports often that Samson made poor choices, leading to his downfall. Finally, when he was weak, the Philistines pounced on him, gouged out his eyes, bound him with shackles, and forced him into slavery in a mill (Judges 16:18– 21). But their tormenting of Samson did not end at the mill. They credited their false god, Dagon, with their capture of Samson. They celebrated by making fun of Samson (Judges 16:23–25). They must have thought Samson's God was weaker than Dagon until Samson prayed for renewed strength and literally brought the roof down on them, killing them (Judges 16:26–30).
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