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Psalm chapter 38

New International Version

1 A psalm of David. A petition. LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me. 3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. 7 My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.
8 I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. 9 All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. 10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. 11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.
12 Those who want to kill me set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they scheme and lie. 13 I am like the deaf, who cannot hear, like the mute, who cannot speak; 14 I have become like one who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. 15 LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, 'Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.' 17 For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. 18 I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin. 19 Many have become my enemies without cause; those who hate me without reason are numerous.
20 Those who repay my good with evil lodge accusations against me, though I seek only to do what is good. 21 LORD, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. 22 Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.
English Standard Version

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

1 {A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance.} O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. 2 For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. 4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. 6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. 10 My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. 11 My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.
12 They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long. 13 But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. 14 Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs. 15 For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. 16 For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me. 17 For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. 18 For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. 19 But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied. 20 They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is. 21 Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me. 22 Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.
New American Standard Bible

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

1 A psalm of David, asking God to remember him. O LORD, don't rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage! 2 Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me. 3 Because of your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins. 4 My guilt overwhelms me--it is a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins. 6 I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief. 7 A raging fever burns within me, and my health is broken. 8 I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart.
9 You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh. 10 My heart beats wildly, my strength fails, and I am going blind. 11 My loved ones and friends stay away, fearing my disease. Even my own family stands at a distance. 12 Meanwhile, my enemies lay traps to kill me. Those who wish me harm make plans to ruin me. All day long they plan their treachery.
13 But I am deaf to all their threats. I am silent before them as one who cannot speak. 14 I choose to hear nothing, and I make no reply. 15 For I am waiting for you, O LORD. You must answer for me, O Lord my God. 16 I prayed, 'Don't let my enemies gloat over me or rejoice at my downfall.'
17 I am on the verge of collapse, facing constant pain. 18 But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done. 19 I have many aggressive enemies; they hate me without reason. 20 They repay me evil for good and oppose me for pursuing good. 21 Do not abandon me, O LORD. Do not stand at a distance, my God. 22 Come quickly to help me, O Lord my savior.
Christian Standard Bible

1 Lord, do not punish me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.
2 For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has pressed down on me. 3 There is no soundness in my body because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. 4 For my iniquities have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear. 5 My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness. 6 I am bent over and brought very low; all day long I go around in mourning. 7 For my insides are full of burning pain, and there is no soundness in my body.
8 I am faint and severely crushed; I groan because of the anguish of my heart. 9 Lord, my every desire is in front of you; my sighing is not hidden from you. 10 My heart races, my strength leaves me, and even the light of my eyes has faded. 11 My loved ones and friends stand back from my affliction, and my relatives stand at a distance.
12 Those who intend to kill me set traps, and those who want to harm me threaten to destroy me; they plot treachery all day long. 13 I am like a deaf person; I do not hear. I am like a speechless person who does not open his mouth. 14 I am like a man who does not hear and has no arguments in his mouth. 15 For I put my hope in you, Lord; you will answer me, my Lord, my God. 16 For I said, "Don't let them rejoice over me -- those who are arrogant toward me when I stumble." 17 For I am about to fall, and my pain is constantly with me. 18 So I confess my iniquity; I am anxious because of my sin. 19 But my enemies are vigorous and powerful; many hate me for no reason.
20 Those who repay evil for good attack me for pursuing good. 21 Lord, do not abandon me; my God, do not be far from me. 22 Hurry to help me, my Lord, my salvation.

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).