Psalm chapter 38

English Standard Version

1A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering. O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! 2For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. 3There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. 4For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. 5My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, 6I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. 7For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. 9O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. 10My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me. 11My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off. 12Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long. 13But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth. 14I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes. 15But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. 16For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot slips!” 17For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. 18I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. 19But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully. 20Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good. 21Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! 22Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!
New International Version

New American Standard Bible

1Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, And do not punish me in Your burning anger. 2For Your arrows have sunk deep into me, And Your hand has pressed down on me. 3There is no healthy part in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin. 4For my guilty deeds have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. 5My wounds grow foul and fester Because of my foolishness. 6I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go in mourning all day long. 7For my sides are filled with burning, And there is no healthy part in my flesh. 8I feel faint and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart. 9Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. 10My heart throbs, my strength fails me; And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me. 11My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague; And my kinsmen stand far away. 12Those who seek my life lay snares for me; And those who seek to injure me have threatened destruction, And they plot deception all day long. 13But I, like a person who is deaf, do not hear; And I am like a person who cannot speak, who does not open his mouth. 14Yes, I am like a person who does not hear, And in whose mouth are no arguments. 15For I wait for You, Lord; You will answer, Lord my God. 16For I said, 'May they not rejoice over me, Who, when my foot slips, would exalt themselves over me.' 17For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me. 18For I admit my guilt; I am full of anxiety because of my sin. 19But my enemies are vigorous and strong, And those who wrongfully hate me are many. 20And those who repay evil for good, They become my enemies, because I follow what is good. 21Do not abandon me, Lord; My God, do not be far from me! 22Hurry to help me, Lord, my salvation!
Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

What does Psalm chapter 38 mean?

Psalm 38 contains references like those found in Psalm 32: depicting the effects of sin and the pain a believer feels under God's conviction. It's possible this passage was composed in response to David's sin with Bathsheba. He lured her into adultery, impregnated her, then attempted to cover the crime by arranging for her husband to die in battle (2 Samuel 12:7–9). Psalm 51 expresses David's intense remorse for this episode. Here, he described the anguish he feels due to God's corrective rebuke.

This psalm begins with an appeal for God's forgiveness, and a reference to the Lord's rebuke. The first metaphor speaks of David being pierced by arrows. This is symbolic, and it suggests the other complaints areas well. The theme of the psalm is David's intense misery; he feels this because of his sin, for which God's hand is moving against him. David uses imagery of illness, weakened bones, overwhelming burdens, rotting flesh, crippling ailments, mourning, fever, and loss of strength. These symptoms are attributed to the anguish in David's heart (Psalm 38:1–8).

Despite his misery, David knows he has not been abandoned by God. He is experiencing the correction which comes through guilt and shame of sin (Hebrews 12:5–11); this causes his heart to hammer in his chest and his vision to blur. Friends have turned their backs on David, possibly due to his sin, or to his sudden collapse, or both. His enemies would relish the opportunity to take advantage of a scandal. David is all but deaf and mute, making no answer to those who criticize him. This might be because his suffering has rendered him incapable (Psalm 38:9–14).

The other possibility is that David chooses not to answer, out of humility and acceptance of God's will. He is fully aware of his sin. He recognizes that God alone can bring him out of this situation. David makes no demands, but humbly appeals to the Lord. As part of this, he openly confesses his sin and declares his repentance. He ends the psalm with another plea for God's mercy; even in this, he expresses faithful hope that God is his salvation (Psalm 38:15–22).
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