What does Psalm 38:6 mean?
ESV: I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning.
NIV: I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning.
NASB: I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go in mourning all day long.
CSB: I am bent over and brought very low; all day long I go around in mourning.
NLT: I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief.
KJV: I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.
NKJV: I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.
Verse Commentary:
In verse 4, David described suffering under God's convicting rebuke as an enormous burden. Here, he adds details which echo that imagery. The picture set up here is that of a person bent over, flattened to the ground by a heavy load. The body can respond to emotional pain in numerous ways, such as curling forward, lifting the shoulders, or covering the face. As he mourns for his sin, David is wracked and has the posture of a feeble, fallen old man. Further, David indicates that his sense of conviction for his sin (Psalm 38:18) is unending. This is not a momentary feeling, but a perpetual awareness of his guilt. Like a mourner at a funeral, David was filled with sadness; his joy had fled from him.

God does not intend His people to live permanently in experiences such as mourning and sadness. The Lord wants His people to rejoice even amidst trials. Writing to the Philippian church from prison, where he experienced harsh treatment, Paul rejoiced in the Lord and admonished the Philippian believers to rejoice (Philippians 1:3–4, 18; 2:2, 17–18; 3:1; 4:1, 4). Joy and rejoicing don't require happy circumstances—when we follow God's will and still suffer, we can still rejoice in God's provision and protection. Yet if we violate the Lord's will, our suffering is a reason for mourning, followed by repentance and restoration.

This is one reason Jesus urged His followers to keep His commandments (John 15:10). He said, "I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11). David's lack of joy was a direct consequence of violating God's will through sin.
Verse Context:
Psalm 38:1–8 resembles Psalm 32:3–4. In both passages, David describes pain he experiences because of his sin. He recognizes here that his physical suffering has come because of his immoral action. He sees the pain as part of the Lord's disciplining of him. In the moment, his situation seems too much to bear, making him miserable. It's possible Psalm 38 was written in response to David's sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:7–9).
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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