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Read Psalm 39

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

I said, “I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
    my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
    do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
    for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
    you consume their wealth like a moth—
    surely everyone is but a breath.

12 “Hear my prayer, Lord,
    listen to my cry for help;
    do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
    a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
    before I depart and am no more.”

Go Deeper

We do not always know how to handle our messy lives. Similar to yesterday’s psalm, David is grieved by his life circumstances. He was sick. He dwelled in his discomfort. He internalized his doubts. His silence led to grief. A fire of discontentment and anxiety burned within him. The turmoil became too much to handle on his own, and he cried out to God.

David was impatient for the end of his life. Learning about this man’s deep mental struggle humanizes our reading of this psalm. We can all relate to wanting a less taxing and easier life. David did not live a perfect life, but he was still used by God. He realized that life’s ills and woes are fleeting as we have the hope of heaven. Our lives are as quick as a breath compared to our eternity with God. 

Our path through this life is not always rainbows and butterflies. David needed refining, and so do we. In verse 11, we read, “When you [the Lord] discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath!” Sometimes the Lord will destroy what we delight in, like a moth destroying fine clothing, because that is what we need in order to seek Him. It’s not that God is mean; it is quite the contrary. He is loving. He would rather destroy our idols while we have a chance of communing with Him than let us suffer eternity in excruciating discomfort. 

David chose to keep fighting his battles because God allowed him to live for a reason. The obstacles David faced paled in comparison to the greatness of the Lord and heaven. Praying for deliverance through teary eyes is worth it, because we are only guests here on the earth for a short time.

Questions

  1. Are there times in your life you have wrestled with God? Do you believe you can be honest with God about your weaknesses, suffering, and anxiety?
  2. What troubles of this temporary life distract you from the eternal hope you have in Christ Jesus? 
  3. Pray an honest prayer to God and surrender your heart to Him.

By the Way

The theme of pushing through adversity is all throughout the Bible. Let this be a theme for us today also. Let’s prepare for battle by committing to memory Philippians 3:13-14, which says:

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

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1 thought on “Psalm 39”

  1. We’ve all wrestled with God, most recently with a global pandemic, political unrest, and right now through an arctic blast. I’m presently sitting by candlelight reading Psalm 39 which bears the title “The Fleeting Nature of Life” and the electricity has been off for hours. In my humble opinion, God welcomes our wrestling, questioning and honesty. He takes our jumbled mess and brings clarity, helping us to grasp what’s most important. Notice that whatever state David is in, he faithfully comes to the Father. Today, I know where my hope and help come from, the one who hears our prayers. Psalm 90:12 says “So teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”

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