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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Psalms 38



Verses 1-22

I am going to read two portions of Scripture. In the first, — the 38th Psalm, — we shall hear a suffering servant of Jehovah crying out to his God.

Psalms 38:1. O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

“If thou dost rebuke me, do it gently, O my Lord! If thou dost chasten me,

let not thy displeasure wax hot against thy servant.”

Psalms 38:2. For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.

God may aim his arrows even at his own children, and he may lay his hand very heavily upon those whom he deeply loves.

Psalms 38:3. There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.

David was under the afflicting hand of God even with regard to his bodily disease. He could have borne the pain if it had been merely physical; but there was a sense of sin mixed with it which made it sting him in his very soul.

Psalms 38:4-5. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.

David had some painful old sores; I mean, old sins; and they seem to have broken out again and again, and when he wrote this Psalm, he was groaning in his spirit at the remembrance of them. His faith was at a low ebb, and his feelings were of the most bitter and sorrowful kind.

Psalms 38:6. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.

Yet he was a true child of God all the while, for this is, according to its title, “A Psalm of David,” concerning whom the Lord said “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.” God’s flowers do not have sunlight twenty-four hours in the day. They have their night seasons, when it is not only dark, but it may also be heavy with the cold dew, or trying with a sharp frost.

Psalms 38:7-8. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.

That is an expressive word that David uses: “I have roared.” He felt as if his prayers were more like the agonized cries of a wounded beast than the intelligent supplications of a human being, — least of all, of a man of God; and, sometimes, when the spirit is greatly bowed down, it cannot express itself in words, but has to be content with groans, and cries, and sobs, and tears.

Psalms 38:9. LORD, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.

What a sweet, sweet truth that is! Happy is that man, who in the time of deepest darkness, can still grasp that truth and hold it fast. “Lord, my groaning is not hid from thee! I could only roar out my complaint, or groan it out; but thou couldst hear it just as well as if I had ordered my words aright before thee.”

Psalms 38:10-11. My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.

“Relatives and friends alike all get away from me as far as they can, for they cannot bear to be in such sorrowful company.”

Psalms 38:12-13. They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long. But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.

Although David was a tried man, he was, at least at that time, a wise man. God did not leave his servant to act or to speak foolishly; and beloved, when men are unjustly rebuking and reproaching you, there is nothing more wise than to act as if you did not hear them. It is the very acme of wisdom if you can keep quiet, and not answer them, — refusing to make any apologies or extenuations — or even showing any sign that you have so much as heard what they have said.

Psalms 38:14-15. Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs. For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: —

What sublime faith there is here! It is easy to have faith in sunshiny weather, — to have faith when you have the least need of it. There are plenty of people, who fancy they are believing in God when everything is going well with them. It is one thing to believe when you are lying at anchor in a peaceful harbour, it is quite another matter to believe when you are at sea in a storm. David hoped in God when trouble had come upon him wave upon wave: “For in thee, O Lord, do I hope:” —

Psalms 38:15. Thou wilt hear, O LORD my God.

“Even if I do not hear thee, thou wilt hear me and if no man shall hear me, thou wilt hear my prayer, and answer my supplication.”

Psalms 38:16-20. For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me. For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied. They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is.

We need never be afraid of any man’s opposition when the reason for his being our adversary is that we “follow the thing that good is,” as our translators quaintly express it.

Psalms 38:21-22. Forsake me not, O Lord: O my God, be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.

Now we shall see, as we read that wondrous 53rd chapter of Isaiah not a man of God in trouble, but the Son of God in trouble; and we shall see him also as a deaf man that heareth not, “and as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.”

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 38, and Isaiah 53.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 38:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

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