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Psalm 38, Part 1 of 3

Verses 1-8

A psalm of David. A petition.

1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger

or discipline me in your wrath.

2 For your arrows have pierced me,

and your hand has come down upon me.

3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;

my bones have no soundness because of my sin.

4 My guilt has overwhelmed me

like a burden too heavy to bear.

5 My wounds fester and are loathsome

because of my sinful folly.

6 I am bowed down and brought very low;

all day long I go about mourning.

7 My back is filled with searing pain;

there is no health in my body.

8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;

I groan in anguish of heart.

The inscription “A psalm of David. A Petition” is not in dispute. There is no doubt this was written by David and it was a petition.

What is a petition. The Hebrew word is zakar (zaw·kar) and it is a rather complex word that is almost untranslatable without a lot of commentary. The word means, literally, “to cause to remember or to recall to memory.” [1] Some English translations translate it as “For the Memorial Offering”

David is pleading with the Lord remind Him of His mercy and himself of his sin. David is not just calling on God because He’s a nice guy but this language suggest David is calling in a contract—literally, God’s covenant relationship with David. Through this petition, David also prays for divine comfort and help[2]

Verses 1-3: A Petition for Mercy

· David pleads with the Lord to not rebuke [Hebrew: יָכַח (yakach ) correct because of wrongdoing]

· He confesses that the arrows of the Lord’s punishment have met their mark: his heart

o how many times does someone tell a pastor: “you really stepped on my toes today!”…if so, we’ve missed our mark because we were aiming for your heart. We are human and can miss, but the Lord’s arrows ALWAYS find the target of your conscience.

· David’s punishment was not just felt in his emotional heart but it extended to his physical body. His sin caused him to become very ill.

o It should be noted that although God does use illness as a punishment, not every physical malady is a punishment from God. (cf. John 9:1-3).

o Yet, some disobedience is punished physically: John 5:14, NIV

§ Later Jesus found him [a man who was paralyzed and Jesus told him to pick up his mat and walk] at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

Verses 4-8: A Confession of Guilt

· David leaves no doubt: he deserved what was happening to him. (verse 4 “…my guilt has overwhelmed me”)

· The first part of verse 4 literally says, “For my iniquities have gone over my head;” Like a flood of water, he is drowning in the ocean of his own sin.

· Verse 5 reminds us his physical ailments are a result of his sinfulness.

· Verse 6 David tells us he has been humbled

o Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

· Verses 7 and 8, David continues to confess it is HIS sinfulness that has caused this problem in his body.

[1] James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order., electronic ed. (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996), H2142.

[2] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset et al., A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, On Spine: Critical and Explanatory Commentary. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), Ps 38:1.