Psalm 39 (New American Standard Bible)
To the Chief Musician.
“The Chief Musician” is thought by some to be the Lord God Himself.
1I said, “I will guard my ways
That I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle
While the wicked are in my presence.”
The psalmist began this Psalm by remembering his prayer -– asking God’s help in not speaking foolishly or sinfully when the ungody were listening.
“He knew how his words would be misunderstood and misused by such persons. To them his words would seem to be a criticism of God and his ways.”
–James Montgomery Boice (pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death in 2000)
2I was mute and silent,
I refrained even from good,
And my sorrow grew worse.
3My heart was hot within me,
While I was musing the fire burned;
Then I spoke with my tongue:
4“LORD, make me to know my end
And what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am.
“The reader learns that, since life is short, the only real meaning of a man or woman’s existence must be in his relationship to God, for God is eternal.”
–James Montgomery Boice
5“Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.
6“Surely every man walks about as a phantom;
Surely they make an uproar for nothing;
He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.
Sounding very much like the later Book of Ecclesiastes, the psalmist thought about the mass of humanity that lived ignoring the shortness and frailty of life.
· Each of them walks about, but like a shadow, living a life with no substance.
· They are busy, but in vain, being blind to eternal things.
· Each of them works hard and heaps up riches, yet does not think beyond their own short and frail life.
“‘Every man that exists, is vanity.’ All his projects, plans, schemes, &c., soon come to nothing. His body also moulders with the dust, and shortly passes both from the sight and remembrance of men.” –Adam Clarke (1762-1832, British Methodist biblical scholar)
7“And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in You.
This psalm shows the writer experiencing very trying times, calling out for healing, protection, and mercy. During some of the hardest times in my life things have seemed just so overwhelming that I cannot breathe; it is hard for me even to get air in and out. At such times, I have found that the simple repetition of the phrases HERE from this song help me. “My life . . . my strength . . . my hope . . . is in you, Lord.” And indeed, I have good reason find it so: Job 12:10 says, “For the life of every human being is in his hand, and the breath of every human being.”
May God bless you with healing, protection, mercy, strength, hope, and easy breathing.
8“Deliver me from all my transgressions;
Make me not the reproach of the foolish.
9“I have become mute, I do not open my mouth,
Because it is You who have done it.
10“Remove Your plague from me;
Because of the opposition of Your hand I am perishing.
11“With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity;
You consume as a moth what is precious to him;
Surely every man is a mere breath. Selah.
James 4:13-15 (Contemporary English Version)
You should know better than to say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to the city. We will do business there for a year and make a lot of money!” What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears. You should say, “If the Lord lets us live, we will do these things.”
12“Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry;
Do not be silent at my tears;
For I am a stranger with You,
A sojourner like all my fathers.
“Abraham first described himself as a stranger and a sojourner…All his children, those who inherit a like faith, must say the same. Faith cannot find a home on this side of the stars. It has caught a glimpse of the Infinite, and it can never be content with anything else.”
–F. B. Meyer
“If an Englishman goes to the Continent, and tries to pass himself off as a German or a Frenchman, he is soon detected; and, in a similar fashion, a true Christian reveals the, fact that he is an alien in this world, his ways and manners and customs are not those of the men of the world, who have their portion in this life.”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
13“Turn Your gaze away from me, that I may smile again
Before I depart and am no more.”