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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Psalms 39

Verses 1-13

Psalms 39


Under great despond and depression David was tempted to rail against the goodness and justice standards of God. But, being a "man after God’s own ,heart or affection" he became submissive to the chastening hand of eternal providence, as he reflected on the love of God.

Verses 1-13:

Verse 1 relates David’s resolve to "take heed to his ways," to take stock, inventory, or evaluate to what extent he was walking in the law of the Lord, a thing every child of God should frequently do, 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Kings 2:4. In spite of this, he fell into sin, soon murmuring with his mouth, v.4, 5. He added that he would especially avoid sinning with his tongue, keeping his donkey nature under the mouth of the bridle, under safe control, muzzled like an ox, a dog, or a donkey, while the wicked were before him, before they are cut off, Psalms 37:12; Psalms 37:35-36; Psalms 38:16; Psalms 35:26. See also 2 Kings 10:31; Proverbs 4:26-27; Hebrews 2:1; Colossians 4:5-6; James 3:2.

Verses 2, 3 further relate that David calmed up in dumb silence for a time, being so good that he was good for nothing. He even held his peace from doing good. For he who knows "to do good and does it not," to him it is sin. For the Redeemed are "to say so," to witness, Psalms 102:2; Acts 1:8; to let their light shine before men, in word and deed, Matthew 5:15-16; to be "doers of the word, not hearers only," James 1:22. As new creatures in Christ Jesus, "created unto good works," Ephesians 2:8-10. Tho stirred in sorrow there is no quitting place for the soldier in battle, the pilot at the wheel, or engineer on the track, See? Galatians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:58. But as David’s heart was hot within him, as he mused, meditated, the fires burned, flared up so that he spoke out with his tongue, Jeremiah 20:9; Exodus 3:14; Acts 4:20; Acts 5:29.

Verse 4 is a Davidic cry for the Lord to cause him to recognize his end, the measure of his remaining days, an impatient request, much like that of Job, Job 6:8-11; Job 7:1-7; Job 14:1; Job 16:22. He asked the Lord to reveal to him how frail he was or how near he was to death, when he would cease suffering, Psalms 90:12; Psalms 119:84.

Verse 5 observes the brevity of life as an handbreadth and his age as nothing, zero, or nil, in comparison with the eternal God, Psalms 89:47; Psalms 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8. He added that man at his state of strength and prosperity is wholly a package of vanity, apart from an existence in the will of God. Selah, or meditate upon this, John 15:5; Psalms 17:14.

Verse 6 further describes depraved human life as an empty shadow, a vain show, a shadow-man, bustling about, heaping up treasures, seeking satisfaction in material gain, not knowing or recognizing who shall gather them when he is gone, Luke 10:41. It is much like the rich barn builder that he here describes men who build for self, this life alone, Luke 12:16-21; 1 Corinthians 7:31; James 4:14.

Verses 7, 8 recount David’s question, "and now, Lord, what wait I for?" He knew life was brief. He returns to a sense of faith in and faithfulness to God in spite of the brevity and chastisements of life, exclaiming that his hope existed, was founded on and anchored in the Lord, Psalms 40:1-2; Hebrews 6:17-20. He then prayed the Lord to set him free, liberate or release him from all his transgressions, removing him from an occasion of reproach from the foolish the anti-God scoffers, Psalms 38:15.

Verse 9 is a confession that he had been dumb, or plain stupid, as he blubbered and pouted to himself in a "pity-party" state, refraining to open his mouth, even to do good, resenting God’s chastening hand for a time. But now he had become wholly resigned to the goodness and wisdom and purpose of even God’s judgment upon him, v.1-3; 1 John 1:8-9; Hebrews 12:5-12.

Verses 10, 11 ask God to remove his chastening stroke because David was consumed by the heavy stroke of his hand, rebuking him for his iniquity and causing him to consume away in health like a moth, in a way of vanity, 1 Corinthians 11:30; Job 9:34; Job 13:21.

Verses 12,13 conclude a prayer of David sobbing in tears for God to hear and help him, as a stranger and sojourner, as all his covenant fathers before him were, Leviticus 25:23; 1 Chronicles 29:15; Psalms 119:19; 2 Corinthians 5:6; Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 1:18; 1 Peter 2:11. He added "O spare me" that he might recover full strength for a time before he died,. left this earthly state forever; Such a contrite heart the Lord heeds, even to make the restored one a soul-winner, Psalms 51:12-13; Psalms 126:5-6.

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 39". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.