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Commentary » Psalms 39:1-Psalms 39:13 »

Confidence in Life’s Only Hope

American pastor and author James H. Brookes told of visiting a friend’s house and hearing the music of a bird singing. It was not the ordinary sound of chirping; instead it resembled the strains of a lovely melody. At first Brookes didn’t know where it was coming from; but when h … More


David begins the Psalm with a pledge to hold his tongue (v. 1). He had good intentions of keeping his mouth shut so as not to speak against God. Even though men like Shimei, Absalom and Joab seemed to go scot-free David was experiencing great suffering because of his sin. With this in mind, he pledged to bridle his tongue and not add to his other sins with his tongue. It was an important pledge and one in which we need to consider. David decided not even to speak a word of good for fear he would speak a word of evil (v. 2). This only aggravated his suffering. It is one thing to bridle the tongue against evil-speaking but when we try total silence, we go beyond what God intended.

As he thought about the situation which surrounded him and the wicked who pursued him his pledge to silence weakened (v. 3). We now find him pleading with God for some answers to the problems of life’s frailty and life’s futility (vv. 4-5). Human life is like a breath that soon disappears (v. 6). He asks, “What am I waiting for?” I depend on you, Lord (v. 7). Then he requests that the Lord save him from his sins and not let people sneer at him (v. 8) while he is silent (v. 9). He confesses his sin of discouragement. He knew his sufferings were because of his sin and proceeds to list the results:

1. He had lost his blessedness  (v. 10). This was a direct result of his sin. His fellowship with God was broken and his life was filled with fear.

2. He had lost His beauty  (v.11a). Sin and sick­ness had left indelible marks on his face.

3. He had lost His bearings (v. 11b). David felt he was adrift on life’s sea without a compass.

David begs the Lord to listen to his prayer (v. 12) and spare him from future remorse (v. 13).


I have seen these same results in the lives of people who have fallen into sin. It is only staying close to the Lord that will prevent this from happening to me.

Psalms 39:1-13 (English Standard Version)

I said, "I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence." I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! "And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! "Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers. Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!"

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