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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Psalms 38

Verses 1-22

Psalms 38


Verses 1-22:

This is a psalm that brings to the Lord’s remembrance, David’s needs at the time of the meat offering, when the sweet smell of frankincense ascended up to the Lord in heaven, Genesis 8:21.

Verses 1, 2 appeal to the Lord to "rebuke" him not in his wrath, against his iniquities, or to refrain from sorely chastening him for his sins, which humiliated him before his enemies, v.18. Verse 2 asserts that the Lord’s arrows stuck fast or deep and firm in his flesh, and the Lord’s chastening hand lay heavy upon him, to cause him deep pain, grief, and remorse, a thing it was designed to do, in calling him to repentance, Deuteronomy 32:23; Job 6:4; Psalms 32:4; Psalms 39:10; Hebrews 12:6-11; 1 John 1:9.

Verse 3 recounts David’s testimony that "there was (existed) no soundness in his flesh or rest (Heb shalom) in his bones, because of God’s judgmental, chastening anger that had fallen upon him because of his sins. He had neither peace of mind nor sound health any more because of his willful transgressions against God, as also described Isaiah 1:5-6. The God of mercy and all grace does chasten his willful, disobedient children, even with an heavy hand, to cause them to have an accusing conscience of fear and shame, broken health, loss of property or loved ones, and even their own lives if they go obstinately on as His rebellious children, as often set forth in Israel, the life of Moses, David, Ananias and Sapphire, and certain ones in the Corinth church, 1 Corinthians 11:30-34.

Verses 4, 5 describe the extent and consequence of David’s sins as having "gone over my head," like waves of judgment, to drown him; As an heavy burden too heavy (more than) for him to bear, but not for his Messiah Savior, as his sinbearer, as expressed Matthew 11:28; Isaiah 53:4; Isaiah 53:6; Isaiah 53:11; 1 Peter 5:7. He added that his wounds were so corrupt that they did stink, because of his foolishness or perverse sins against himself and God, Psalms 14:1; Psalms 69:5; Proverbs 8:36.

Verses 6, 7 declare that he was troubled, writhing in contortions of pain, bowed down very low, groveling, and mourning all day long, caused by his sins and God’s judgment. Verse 7 adds that his loins were filled with a loathsome disease, a vile disease, with no soundness, but toxic poison in all his flesh, 2 Chronicles 21:18-19; Job 7:5; Job 30:18; Psalms 41:8; Acts 12:23.

Verse 8 laments that David was feeble, very weak and broken in pride, self-worth, self-esteem and humiliated for his deliberate wilful sins that had "found him out," as fruit of corrupt seed that he had sown, Numbers 32:23; Galatians 6:7-8. He had roared, groaned aloud, because of the disquietness of his heart and accusing conscience, a thing that God had sent to call him to repentance and restoration to useful service, Psalms 51:1-12; Hebrews 12:6-12; 1 John 1:8-9.

Verses 9, 10 are an open confession of David’s wretchedness, yet it relates his earnest cry of faith to the Lord for forgiveness and restoration to God’s favor. He had so grieved over his sins, under the chastening bodily pain that God had sent upon him, that his heart panted, continually palpitated, like a young deer chased by the hounds; His strength gradually went from him, and his eyes had almost lost their sight; Only God could see by lifting His heavy chastening. David was learning that "the way of the transgressor is hard," See also Psalms 42:1; Psalms 119:81; Psalms 119:83; Psalms 13:3; 1 Samuel 14:27; 1 Samuel 14:29.

Verse 11 adds, "my lovers and my friends stand aloof (afar off) from my sore," wanting no part of the kind of chastening he was experiencing. He added that even his kinsmen or family members also stood afar, aloof, looking out for number one, as also related Luke 23:49; Matthew 26:56; Matthew 27:55; John 16:32. It was also our Lord’s experience that when his enemies were near his friends fled.

Verse 12 further related that entrapment efforts were being made against his life and the overthrow of his kingdom in many mischievous or devious ways of enemy groups in collusion against him, 2 Samuel 16:7-8. Thoughts and deeds of malice were laid all day long by his enemies.

Verses 13, 14 describe how David was brought in broken health to be silent, like a deaf man, opened not his mouth in defense before God or men for his sins. When cursed by Shimei, David forbad Abishai from killing him, knowing that Absalom, his son’s rebellion was also pay-day for his sins, that when fully confessed and chastened God would raise him up again; Like our Lord, under the burden of our sins, he "opened not his mouth," Isaiah 42:2; Isaiah 53:7, accused, David opened not his mouth, even as our Lord, again, 1 Samuel 10:27; Matthew 26:62-63; John 19:9.

Verse 15 relates David’s deep trust and firm hope in the Lord’s rescuing him from his immediate plight, See Jeremiah 14:8; Jeremiah 50:7. He addressed the Lord as his anchor-hope and pled with him to hear, heed, or answer, Psalms 145:18-19; Hebrews 6:17-19; Titus 2:13.

Verse 16 relates David’s cry to the Lord to rescue him soon lest the cry of his enemies should rejoice over him. For when his foot (foothold) slipped, in any way, his enemies rejoiced, made the most of it, as his misfortune made them feel as if they were soon to be righteous victors in seizing the anointed King David’s throne of rule over Israel, v. 15; Psalms 35:26.

Verses 17, 18 relate that David confessed he was ready to halt (for halting) totally disabled from walking, with sorrow, grief and depression continually upon him. He added "I will (to) or desire to declare (acknowledge my iniquity)," since he had lost sight of it in his prosperity, Psalms 32:5; Psalms 51:3; Proverbs 28:13. He had come to recognize that "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper." So he asserted, "I will be sorry for my sins," a thing that works repentance to salvation, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10.

Verses 19, 20 declare that his enemies are lively, active, and strong against him, and yet they hate him wrongfully, with a motive for greed and covetousness. They are multiplied in numbers, as adversaries, to render evil for good against David, because David did (from a civil, ruling standpoint) that which was good, upright, honest, refraining from bribes and false judgments; and they knew it, 1 Peter 3:14; 1 John 3:12; Psalms 35:19; John 15:25; Psalms 35:12. They did not seek good or peace and pursue it, Hebrews 12:14; Romans 12:18; Romans 12:21; Romans 14:19; Psalms 34:14.

Verses 21, 22 conclude this Davidic prayer to the great Jehovah, his Lord and God, to hear, heed, answer, or come to his rescue speedily, forsaken as he was by man, even his former lovers and family members, v.19; Psalms 35:3. It is the same voice or outcry as related Psalms 22:19; Psalms 35:3. The cry was directly addressed to "O Lord, my salvation," Exodus 15:2; Isaiah 12:2; John 2:9.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Psalms 38". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.