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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Psalms 39

Verses 1-13

Psalms 39:0

Outline Here is a proposed outline of Psalms 39:0:

1. The Unruly Tongue Psalms 39:1-3

2. The Brevity of Life Psalms 39:4-6

3. The Psalmist Cries for Justification Psalms 39:7-13

Psalms 39:1-3 The Unruly Tongue - David knew the struggle it was to control his tongue.

Psalms 39:1 (To the chief Musician, even to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David.) I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.

Psalms 3:1 “To the chief Musician, even to Jeduthun”- Comments - The individual named “Jeduthan” is also mentioned in the titles of Psalms 62, 77.

Psalms 62:1, “To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun , “A Psalm of David. Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.”

Psalms 77:1, “To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, “A Psalm of Asaph. I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.”

1 Chronicles 16:41, “And with them Heman and Jeduthun , and the rest that were chosen, who were expressed by name, to give thanks to the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever;”

Psalms 39:1 “I said, I will take heed to my ways” Scripture References - Note:

1 Kings 2:4, “That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.”

Ephesians 5:15, “ See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,”

Psalms 39:1 “that I sin not with my tongue” Comments - The tongue defiles the whole body:

Matthew 15:11, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”

Matthew 15:18-20, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”

James 1:26, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.”

James 3:2-9

Psalms 39:1 “I will keep my mouth with a bridle” Comments - The psalmist will carefully guard what comes out of the mouth. Note James 1:26, which tells us to bridle our tongue.

James 1:26, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.”

Psalms 39:1 “while the wicked is before me” Comments - The wicked are always watching the righteous, seeking an opportunity to destroy them (Psalms 37:32). Therefore, we are to walk in wisdom towards them that are without.” (Colossians 4:5-6)

Psalms 37:32, “The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.”

Colossians 4:5-6, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

Psalms 39:2 I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.

Psalms 39:2 “I was dumb with silence” Comments - That is, the psalmist was quiet, literally, tongue-tied.

Psalms 39:2 “and my sorrow was stirred” Comments - That is, his anguish or pain increased, grew worse, or he was troubled.

Psalms 39:2 Scripture Reference - Note a similar verse:

Psalms 38:13, “But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.”

Psalms 39:3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,

Psalms 39:3 “while I was musing the fire burned” Comments - Webster says the word “muse” means, “ To think closely; to study in silence; to meditate .”

Psalms 39:4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.

Psalms 39:4 “that I may know how frail I am” Comments - Man’s frailty refers to his mortality, or limited existence on earth, and weakness towards sin.

Psalms 39:5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

Psalms 39:5 “verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity... surely every man is vanity” Word Study on “at his best state” Strong says the Hebrew word “at his best state” ( נָצַב ) (H5324) means, “to station.” The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 75 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “stand 34, set 12, officers 6, set up 7, upright 2, appointed 1, deputy 1, erected 1, establish 1, Huzzab 1, misc 9.”

Comments - The Hebrew word ( נָצַב ) carries the idea of “standing firm.” Within the context of Psalms 39:0, this word refers to the psalmist’s age, or days of life on earth, thus the brevity of man's life. Psalms 39:5 means that man's best efforts to establish himself on earth are but vain affairs, and only for a fleeting and brief moment in time. Compare the ancient pyramids of Egypt as an example of man's best efforts to establish an eternal place for himself on earth. Yet today, on one knows the names of most of those buried in these old piles of stone.

The NKJV reads, “Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths. And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor . Selah.”

Note a similar verse in James 4:14, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away .”

Psalms 39:6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.

Psalms 39:6 “Surely every man walketh in a vain shew” Comments - The phrase “a vain shew” literally refers to an image, or a shadow. Rotherham reads, “Surely as a shadow, doth every man wander.” The RSV reads, “ Surely man goes about as a shadow!” The YLT reads, “Only, in an image doth each walk habitually.”

“surely they are disquieted in vain” Comments - The NIV reads, “He bustles about, but only in vain.” The NKJV reads, “Surely they busy themselves in vain.”

Psalms 39:6 carries the theme of the book of Ecclesiastes, which deals with the vanities of life.

Ecclesiastes 2:26, “For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

“he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them” - Comments In contrast to the covetousness of the wicked, David gathered riches for the construction of the Temple and not for himself (1 Chronicles 29:1-5).

Psalms 39:12 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.

Psalms 39:12 Comments The Patriarchs were certainly sojourners in the land of Canaan for many years before Jacob and the seventy departed into Egypt under Joseph’s care. In Psalms 39:12 David seems to be speaking now from a divine perspective in that he views himself as a sojourner. He sees how God’s children are only sojourners on the earth in life of the brevity of human life until they depart to be with the Lord in eternity, abiding in the true Promised Land. David has acknowledged the brevity of man’s life on earth throughout this psalm (Psalms 39:4-6; Psalms 39:11). Man’s mortality testifies to the eternal life of mankind after death, making his earthly life appear as a temporary journey in a foreboding land. Thus, God’s children view this mortal life very differently than the wicked who heap up riches in vain (Psalms 39:6).

Psalms 39:13 O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Psalms 39". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.