Psalm 39

1650 psalter

The Righteous One a Pilgrim and a Stranger

David is under some form of suffering and chastening. Yet in the middle of it he is determined to bridle his tongue, or muzzle it, as in the margin. Indeed, he controlled his anguish and feelings, so that the wicked would not have occasion to level any charges of weakness or unbelief at him. He realises that the stroke which smote him, was of the Lord, and so would not want to dishonour or betray his God. And therefore he remained dumb. It must have been a grievous and physically weakening experience, as he prays to recover strength. Such was the affliction, that he was brought to measure his days.

When we are chastened of the Lord we are to realise that the world is watching, and so we must watch our speech and actions before them, and not make complaint. It also teaches us how frail we are, and the brevity of our existence, and to number the days of usefulness that we have left. May we, with David, resort to prayer at such times.

Pastor Jeff O’ Neil

Recommended Tune: St Mary, Huddersfield

St Mary

Psalm 39

¹I said, I will look to my ways,
Lest with my tongue I sin:
In sight of wicked men my mouth
With bridle I’ll keep in.

²With silence I as dumb became,
I did myself restrain
From speaking good; but then the more
Increased was my pain.

³My heart within me waxed hot;
And, while I musing was,
The fire did burn; and from my tongue
These words I did let pass:

⁴Mine end, and measure of my days,
O LORD, unto me show
What is the same; that I thereby
My frailty well may know.

⁵Lo, thou my days an handbreadth mad’st;
Mine age is in thine eye
As nothing: sure each man at best
Is wholly vanity.

⁶Sure each man walks in a vain show;
They vex themselves in vain:
He heaps up wealth, and doth not know
To whom it shall pertain.

⁷And now, O Lord, what wait I for?
My hope is fix’d on thee.
⁸Free me from all my trespasses,
The fool’s scorn make not me.

⁹Dumb was I, op’ning not my mouth,
Because this work was thine.
¹⁰Thy stroke take from me; by the blow
Of thine hand I do pine.

¹¹When with rebukes thou dost correct
Man for iniquity,
Thou wastes his beauty like a moth:
Sure each man’s vanity.

¹²Attend my cry, LORD, at my tears
And pray’rs not silent be:
I sojourn as my fathers all,
And stranger am with thee.

¹³O spare thou me, that I my strength
Recover may again,
Before from hence I do depart,
And here no more remain.