Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart. This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.
I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.
As mentioned in our introduction Psalm 38 is a psalm of David in sin. The next two posts will consider…
- David’s experience under God’s hand
- Verses 1-10 with verses 17 & 18 giving a summary.
- David’s experience with men
- Verses 11-16 with verses 19-20 supplying a summary.
In verses 1-10, David gives us his experience in relation the the Lord, his God. One subject that David does not resort to is excuse making. He does not deny his sin. Denial of sin is not the intent of David’s cries. He is addressing the what, not the why of his experience in this psalm
Lets look to the Psalm
1 A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering. O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath!
2 For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me.
Anger and wrath. David realizes the effect of his sin on his relationship with the God of Israel. He is not denying the anger, or the justification for the wrath, the slow burning wrath that is welling up in God towards His servant. He is asking God, his God, to relent, to find mercy. Discipline is actively working in David, Gods arrows reside in David, a wounded warrior. David expresses his condition as an enemy of God, one who is at war with Him, and who is currently wounded with a God’s weapon of choice.
Both the “arrow of God” and the “hand of God” is pressing into David, a relentless piercing of a dart in David and a terrible pressure is on David, constantly present with the King of Israel. The King of Israel is not privileged in his stand with God. It doesn’t work like that in the Christian life. Sin will be exposed! As a matter of fact, he is more responsible since His ministry and work for God is so public!
Sin will be exposed. Sin may be forgiven. Guilt may be absolved, but the repercussions of acts of sin are deep, painful and may be long lasting. David, in the following portion, describes the deep, painful experience of God’s displeasure in his life. His spiritual life is in shambles and his entire existence has lost purpose. Everything he has desired is now up in smoke, and his greatest confidant has become a most powerful enemy.
His existence is tragic. Take a moment and consider.
3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
5 My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness,
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning.
7 For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
David, the sweet poet of Israel, is using his skill in describing his pain. Festering wounds (like on a battle field) and no soundness of flesh. Is he describing actual physical wounds on a battle field or describing the battle weary condition of his spirit? You be the judge, but I can’t help but see this as David’s inner life, his connection with God being in tatters!
It is interesting that at this time in his life, David was, to all appearances, peaking! He was the King of Israel, and had consistently led his armies to victory. Saul had been defeated, and the nation was unified. The potential for greater dominion was almost indescribable. He had promises directly given by God for his dynasty.
And yet, he was feeble and crushed, groaning out pleas of mourning and sorrow. How different our inner life may be from our appearances.
Take note of this truth, my friends. As we rub shoulders with our brothers and sisters on a Sunday morning, we get the impression all is well in everyone’s life. Not until we gain trust through relationship do we begin to know what is going on inside a brother! And this relationship is only begun in a church meeting. For trust to grow, we have to walk with a brother, share with a sister, do coffee, have lunch, attend to hospital visits, discuss loss jobs, assist in sickness, and experience disappointments.
If you are like myself, we naturally turn away from the pain of others, from those who are “under judgement”, whatever it may be. This is the recipe for a surficial Christianity, where we convince ourselves everything is good, while we sink into a despair and loneliness, a self deception that will cause us to experience our own inner battle.
David has opened up and given us a chance to view his thoughts, fears and struggles. We are reading the writings of a man looking to God, looking for relief, a ceasefire!
9 O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes–it also has gone from me.
How conflicting it must have been that the One David was in battle with, is the very One to which he longed for, that he sighed for. God is the All in All, and His position in our lives is multifaceted. He is not a simple deity that we have constructed in our vain thoughts, but the God of the heavens.
David is on his last legs. He has described his festering wounds, heavy burdens, his mourning and groaning, his failing strength and the light of his eyes – the light is gone!
17 For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me.
18 I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.
David was ready to fall. Constant pain and sorrow were all he could see in his future. There was no hope in his own efforts, and his longing for God was ever present. What conflict! What a dead end for him.
Until confession was offered, there was no resolution. Confession of sin before his holy and loving Father is the only resolution David had.
It is the same for us my friend. It is the only way we may find our way back from a time of rebellion, back to experiencing His loving kindness.
At the risk of repetition, lets consider the last two verses as a conclusion, reminding us of the Kings plea before the Almighty.
21 Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!
The King was heard. Amen.
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