What does Psalm 38:14 mean?
ESV: I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes.
NIV: I have become like one who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply.
NASB: Yes, I am like a person who does not hear, And in whose mouth are no arguments.
CSB: I am like a man who does not hear and has no arguments in his mouth.
NLT: I choose to hear nothing, and I make no reply.
KJV: Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs.
NKJV: Thus I am like a man who does not hear, And in whose mouth is no response.
Verse Commentary:
This follows the comment of the previous verse (Psalm 38:13), where David notes his silence and deafness in response to enemy attacks (Psalm 38:12). These comments could be interpreted as part of David's crushed response to God's conviction (Psalm 38:1–4, 8), meaning he is incapable of sensibly hearing what is happening, or of responding reasonably.

The other option is that David is choosing not to respond to the attacks of his enemies. Because a deaf person cannot hear what someone says negatively about him, he has no motive to argue or bicker. David's repentance over sin may have led him to accept that God would settle the matter, so he could simply let go and leave the issue to the Lord.

It takes discipline to refuse to talk back to an accuser, and the misuse of the tongue can cause a storm of hostile feelings. The apostle James advocates for controlling the tongue. He writes in James 3:2, "If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man." He points out also that "the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell" (James 3:6).
Verse Context:
Psalm 38:9–14 shows David's sincere humility. He addresses God as "Adonai," meaning "Lord" or "Master." He acknowledges that God knows all about his suffering, then continues to explain his misery. Guilt and conviction have caused him personal anguish. His sin created isolation from friends and relatives. It has given room for his enemies to attack him. In the face of this pressure, David feels entirely helpless.
Chapter Summary:
David cries out to God in repentance for his sin. He feels the weight of shame and conviction, as if being pierced by arrows, ravaged by disease, crushed, and blinded. His friends have abandoned him; his enemies plot his demise. All of these have been brought about because of his "iniquity." Throughout this misery, David does not abandon hope. Instead, he confidently calls on the Lord to forgive and rescue him.
Chapter Context:
Psalm 38 and Psalm 32 are similar. They both express David's deep sense of guilt, his contrition, and his confession. Both psalms refer to the ill effect David's sins exerted on his physical condition. Psalm 38's descriptions seem mostly symbolic, but his anguish is very literal. Likely, the sins in question were adultery with Bathsheba and the arranged murder of her husband (2 Samuel 12:7–9). If so, these themes connect directly to Psalm 51. David asks God to forgive him and heal him.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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