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Read Psalm 38

A psalm of David. A petition.

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
Your arrows have pierced me,
    and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
    there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
    like a burden too heavy to bear.

My wounds fester and are loathsome
    because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
    all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
    there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
    I groan in anguish of heart.

All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
    my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
    even the light has gone from my eyes.
11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
    my neighbors stay far away.
12 Those who want to kill me set their traps,
    those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
    all day long they scheme and lie.

13 I am like the deaf, who cannot hear,
    like the mute, who cannot speak;
14 I have become like one who does not hear,
    whose mouth can offer no reply.
15 Lord, I wait for you;
    you will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat
    or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.”

17 For I am about to fall,
    and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
    I am troubled by my sin.
19 Many have become my enemies without cause;
    those who hate me without reason are numerous.
20 Those who repay my good with evil
    lodge accusations against me,
    though I seek only to do what is good.

21 Lord, do not forsake me;
    do not be far from me, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
    my Lord and my Savior.

Go Deeper

Today we read another lament of David in Psalm 38. This was a lament written as a memorial for God to remember His people (Israel) and for Him to act on their behalf. It is also a penitential psalm where David lays his sin before God, realizing that the trouble he is in is a result of his sin. While it is not always the case that trouble and suffering are a direct result of sin (see the book of Job), that is the case in this psalm. 

We have all made decisions that we later regretted, whether it is waking up with the weight of regret from how we spent the previous night to seeing flashing lights approaching from out of the darkness. Sooner or later our sin will be found out and that is exactly what David is experiencing here in this psalm. In verse four he expresses that “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear,” but Jesus promises to give rest to the weary and burdened– His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). When we come to Jesus there is rest for our souls. We have a salvation rest, knowing our eternity is secure (Ephesians 4:30). We also have a spiritual rest when we confess our sin (1 John 1:9). 

Therefore we can confess with confidence, as David does, that God alone is our hope and Savior. That is an astounding mark of Christianity, that even when everything is crumbling around us, we can say with great confidence that God alone is our hope. He has a perfect resume. Even when it does not feel like God is at work or near, we can bring our frustrations to Him. We know that God will not turn away a truly repentant person, and that He honors honest prayers. What an encouragement that reading through the Psalms continues to show us! The Psalmist brings forth everything going on in their life, the good and the bad. We do not need these polished, stained glass, robotic prayers. We can take heart in knowing that God sees and He knows. 


  1. What sins are weighing heavy on you today? List them out and then bring them before God today. 
  2. Reflect on Matthew 11:28-30. How do these verses connect to this lament in Psalm 38 and others that we’ve read?
  3. Can you say with great confidence that God alone is your hope? Where else are you tempted to place your hope?

By the way

As mentioned, this is a memorial psalm. It was associated with the memorial grain offering that was instituted in Leviticus 2:1-3. 

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1 thought on “Psalm 38”

  1. The title in my copy of scripture for Psalm 38 is “Prayer of a Suffering Sinner”. That perfectly describes the words of David that follow as he begs the Lord to heal him of a serious illness. He interprets the illness as a rebuke from God as he suffers pain & anguish, social alienation, & political turmoil. In the midst of this he is abandoned by friends and under constant attack by enemies. Throughout David’s life we see him put his hope in the Lord confident he will answer. Today, I’m drawn to v18 where David confesses his sin/guilt. David understood his sin was a barrier to God’s presence, and the way to restore that close fellowship was repentance. I’m reminded of the deep agony & anguish Jesus experienced on the cross to bear my sin & shame. He sustained the weight & guilt of all mankind. What great love! Tomorrow we celebrate Valentines Day, let’s remember the One who loved us back from death to life!

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