Psalm 38

Prayer in Time of Chastening

A Psalm of David.  To bring to remembrance.

1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!  2 For Your arrows pierce me deeply, and Your hand presses me down.  3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger, nor any 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 are foul and festering 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 full of inflammation, and there is no soundness in my flesh.  8 I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.

9 Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You.  10 My heart pants, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.  11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, and my relatives stand afar off.  12 Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, and plan deception all the day long.  13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; and I am like a mute who does not open his mouth.  14 Thus I am like a man who does not hear, and whose mouth is no response.

15 For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God.  16 For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me, lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.”  17 For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me.  18 For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin.  19 But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong; and those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied.  20 Those also who render evil for good, they are my adversaries, because I follow what is 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!

The following commentary is from Warren W. Wiersbe’s book, ‘BE Worshipful’.

…..David’s sins (vv. 3, 4, 18) had brought God’s chastening to his life, and David was a very sick man.  Not all affliction comes from disobedience (John 9;1-3), but physical troubles can be a consequence of sin (John 5:14).  David doesn’t question the legitimacy of his suffering, for he admitted his sins (v. 18), but he wonders why his suffering is so severe.  Like the prophet Habakkuk, David wanted God to remember to be merciful (Hab. 3:2)……For God to “remember” someone means that He begins to act on his or her behalf and meet some need (Gen. 8:1……1 Sam. 1:19)……When God’s people suffer the consequences of sin and feel the chastening hand of God, they must choose one of three responses.

         1.  We Can Focus on Ourselves and Experience Sin’s Painfulness (vv. 1-8).  Pain hurts, and David wasn’t ashamed to write about it, using a number of vivid images to convey to the Lord and to us the severity of his suffering.  Like a loving Father, the Lord first rebuked David and then chastened him, both of which are evidences of His love (Prov. 3:11-12; Heb. 12:1-11).  If we don’t listen to the words of His heart, we will have to feel the weight of His hand (32:4; 39:10-11)……All this happened because he had been foolish and had sinned against the Lord (v. 5; 107:17).  We are free to disobey the Lord, but we are not free to change the consequences.

          2.  We Can Focus on Others and Experience Sin’s Loneliness (vv. 9-14)….For a brief moment, he took his eyes off his own sufferings and looked to the Lord, knowing that God saw his heart and knew all his longings.  God knows what we want, but He also knows what we need.  Then why pray?  Because God has commanded us to pray, and “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2 NKJV).  Furthermore, as we pray, God works in our hearts to give us a clearer understanding of ourselves and of His will for us.  Prayer isn’t a theological concept to analyze and explain; it’s a privilege to cherish and a blessing to claim.

        David’s focus now was on the people around him, and he felt abandoned and lonely.  The people who should have encouraged and comforted him—his loved ones and friends—kept their distance, along with his enemies, who wanted him to die.  David expected his enemies to plot against him (v. 12), gloat over his fall (v. 16), hate him, slander him, and return evil for the good he did to them (vv. 19-20); but he didn’t think his friends and relatives would turn against him.(See 31;11-12……).  But before we criticize them, have we been obeying Galatians 6:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2:5-11?

          As he grieved over his sins and over the unconcern of his loved ones, David realized that his enemies were plotting to get him out of the way (v. 12).  They talked about his ruin and destruction, and he heard what they were saying; but he did not reply to their threats or their false accusations……He had followed the instructions he had given in Psalm 37.

         3.  We Can Focus on the Lord and Experience Sin’s Forgiveness (vv. 15-22).  For the third time, David addressed the Lord, but this time he got down to business and dealt with his sins.  He hoped in (waited for) the Lord, knowing that God would hear his prayers.  He wasn’t praying only for his own deliverance just so he could be comfortable; he wanted God to work so the enemy couldn’t use him as an excuse for sinning (vv. 16, 19-20…..).  When they slandered David’s name, they also slandered the Lord,… and David wanted to honor the Lord……

         Confident that the Lord had forgiven him, he closed his prayer with three requests.  Be with me (v. 21) is answered by Deuteronomy 4:31 and 31:6. 8 and Hebrews 13:5.  Be near me (v. 21) finds its answer in 16:8; 34:18; and James 4:8.  Be for me and help me (v. 22) leads us to 28:7; Isaiah 41:10; and Romans 8:33-39.  These three requests cover just about everything!

I wish everyone a very blessed day.


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