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The godly soul forsaken by lover and friend, and reproached by enemies, when suffering, under the chastening of the Lord, for his own sin.
Psalms 38 and 39 present the governmental dealings of the Lord with a believer as the direct result of his own sin and failure, and not, as in many other psalms, as the outcome of the sin of the nation. These experiences of the soul under chastening doubtless set forth the exercises of the godly remnant of the Jews in a latter day, while containing important principles applicable to a failing saint at any time.
(vv. 1-5) The soul fully recognizes that, on the one hand, his sufferings come from the Lord, and, on the other, are the direct outcome of his own sin. He can say “Thy hand presseth me sore;” and the chastening is “because of my sin;” and “mine iniquities” and “my foolishness.”
(vv. 6-8) The failing saint is allowed to feel and express, the misery, humiliation, and feebleness of his condition as the result of his sin. He has to say “I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly;” “I am feeble and sore broken.”
(vv. 9-12) Nevertheless his faith is not allowed to fail. The soul finds its resource in the Lord. He takes comfort from the fact, that, if his sin is before the Lord, so also his “groaning is not hid” from the Lord. He turns to the Lord when his own strength has failed him (v. 10); when lovers, friends and kinsmen forsake him (v. 11), and when his enemies take occasion by his fall to reproach him, seek his hurt, speak mischievous things, and imagine evil devices against him.
(vv. 13-15) Whatever the enemy may say or do, the godly soul is dumb and cannot utter any reproof, for he is conscious that he himself has sinned. He therefore leaves himself in the hands of the Lord, who can, if He sees fit, answer the enemy - “In thee, O Jehovah, do I hope: thou wilt answer O Lord my God” (JND).
(vv. 16-20) The enemy, with no love for good or hatred of evil, takes occasion by the slip of the godly to rejoice in his fall and to magnify himself. As for the godly, his sin has made him realize his own weakness, as one ready to halt. He is ever conscious of his sin over which he grieves. His enemies take occasion by his sin to persecute him; not, however, because of his failure, but because he follows that which is good.
(vv. 21-22) All may have forsaken him, but his confidence is that the Lord will not forsake him. He looks to the Lord for help and deliverance.
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Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 38". "Smith's Writings". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19