Psalms Chapter 38

Psalms Chapter 38 #Sin #Anguish #Burdened #Overwhelmed #Forgiveness (Unless otherwise cited this devotional is from the King James Version-Psalms 38 mainly because it is public domain.)


This psalm demonstrates the emotional and psychological pain that the writer is experiencing. Therefore, it fits the category of “a psalm of lament.”  Although the psalmist is aware that the pain that he is experiencing is a result of his own sin, he is not dissuaded to and goes to his Abba/God for assistance. There is only one person who can forgive sin and release the torment of guilt, God. The psalmist is acutely aware of this. He is also aware that his enemies are apprised of his weakened emotional and psychological condition. They will attempt to use this moment in David’s life to attack him. Where can he turn? The sense of urgency in the psalms is indicative of David’s need for God’s protection over his life.  Longman (2014) proposes that Psalm 38 is traditionally considered “a penitential psalm ‘along with Psalms 6, 32, 51, 102, 130, 133” (p. 182).

I Have SInned But DO Not Leave Me in My Sin Oh God!

  • 1(A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance.) O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
  • 2For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. 

David is praying to his Divine Warrior to refrain from rebuking him when He is “hot” with anger. See Deut. 32:23; Job 6:4; 16:13; Psalm 7:12; Lam. 3:12-13. He is also asking the “Divine Warrior” to remove the “arrows” of guilt from his conscience. We have all sinned and felt guilty about the sin. But was it just a guilty feeling or remorse for breaking God’s heart? Or tainting our relationship with God? Guilt is not always going to results in repentance. When God has placed his hand on our lives we are fearful, not in dread and terror, but afraid because of the separation that it has caused us, it is a deep feeling of anguish.

  •  Psalms 6:6 -7 ‭MSGI’m tired of all this—so tired. My bed has been floating forty days and nights on the flood of my tears. My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears.
    The sockets of my eyes are black holes; nearly blind, I squint and grope..
  • Ps 39:7-11  ‭MSG “What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping, that’s what I’m doing—hoping You’ll save me from a rebel life, save me from the contempt of dunces. I’ll say no more, I’ll shut my mouth, since you, Lord, are behind all this. But I can’t take it much longer. When you put us through the fire to purge us from our sin, our dearest idols go up in smoke. Are we also nothing but smoke?” 


  • 3There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.
  • 4For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
  • 5My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.

Verses 3-5 shows David’ sickness of the spirit. He has no rest, “because of his sin.”  His sins are “over his head” like a man sinking to the bottom of the ocean. Have you felt the pain of sin? Have you experienced the blackness of the weight of sin as it overwhelmed you? The weight of sin is the heaviest burden that a person will ever bear. Ps 69:1 MSG describes it perfectly “God, God, save me! I’m in over my head.” David’s emotions are so devoured by his sin that his emotional wounds are figuratively “stinking and corrupt.” When a Christian sins, the feeling of remorse can be so intense that it leads to depression and or even a severe panic attack. One does not need to have a feeling of dread of God when one sins, but one does need to be remorseful of the sin that they have committed. Do not allow remorse to cause you to run away from God. He is our father! Longman declared “Pain and guilt can cause a person to flee from God, but the psalmist instead rightly turns to him for help” (Longman 2014, 182).

  • 6I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.
  • 7For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.
  • 8I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.

Verses 6-8 continues David’s conversation with God about his sin. His spirit is still in turmoil. He cannot stop “weeping” over the sin that he has committed. This is not just a onetime event in David’s life. He experiences this remorse each time that he sins.

  • Ps 42:5 MSGWhy are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.”
  •  Psalm 35:14 MSG When they were sick, I dressed in black; instead of eating, I prayed. My prayers were like lead in my gut, like I’d lost my best friend, my brother. I paced, distraught as a motherless child, hunched and heavyhearted.
  • Psalm 38:5 MSG “The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots because I’ve lived so badly. And now I’m flat on my face feeling sorry for myself from morning to-night.
    All my insides are on fire, my body is a wreck. I’m on my last legs; I’ve had it—my life is a vomit of groans.” His emotions are so intense that he feels that is life stinks like “vomit.” The one thing in this world that will make me throw us is the smell of vomit! Read Psalms 38:11 it describes how David feels. Psychology today describes behaviors that are indicative of guilt. David did not want to self-harm neither was he resentful toward God.
  • However, David is so, guilt-ridden that it has affected his body. His health is failing.
    • 7For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.
    • 8I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.”
  • Depression has set in! Cayce states “And so great was the disquietude of this good man under affliction, and sense of sin and wrath, that he had no rest night nor day. And could not forbear crying out, in a very hideous manner, like the roaring of a lion” (Cayce 2018, Ps 38).
  • 9Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.
  • 10My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.
  • 11My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.
  • 12They 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.

Once again, visualize the anguish, pain, and remorse that David is experiencing. As we read verses 9 – 12 we must contemplate on whether or not these are our reactions to our sins. Friends we cannot live our lives as if we are perfect. We cannot continue to pretend that all is well in our lives as long as we support religious institutions. I know that one of the biggest call out for support that I see in social media is “Support Israel because the Bible tells us to!” Well, I have a surprise for us. Supporting Israel will not cause God to forgive us of our sins. 

Only the blood of Jesus will do that. Back to David.

  • Verse 9 speaks about the “sparkle” leaving David’s eyes. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a person who is very ill or who is suffering from a chronic case of depression? That is what their eyes look like. It has a sign of no hope. The life that blazed with the fire of hope has been snuffed out. When you feel this way, never stop screaming out to God. He hears you!
  • Verse 11: Even his friends have forsaken him. Not only have they abandoned him they “seek [his] hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.” WOW! This is like Job all over again. I was talking to someone about this very thing on Sunday. A friend should never trash talk about you! Just remember this, my friends. God did not forsake David. From the second he opened his mouth to pray God heard him. Guilt from ones personal sin is something that no one can experience for you or completely understand unless God reveals it to them. The darkness from that guilt will engulf you. Just remember that you are not the only one, and you are never alone.
  • 13But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.
  • 14 Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs.
  • 15 For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.
  • 16For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise, they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me.

In verses 13- 16 David is numb and crippled by his sin. Verses 13-14: “And I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth” [He lost his ability to speak.] The persecution was so much that he was speechless. I was perfectly silent under all this persecution. Scripture detailed the same experience for Christ. (Isa. 53:7; 1 Peter 2:23; Matt. 26:63; 27:12; Matt. 27:14). Was David foreshadowing what would happen to Christ? We don’t know. We do know that in our own experiences it is best to take the high road and be silent when false accusations are made against us. It does no one any good to refute them. David may not be able to speak, but his expectation is that God will speak on his behalf. He will do the same thing for us too!

David Confesses

  • 17For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me.
  • 18 For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.
  • 19But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.
  • 20 They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is.

David’s remorse, physical, and psychological pain it at its peak. He is overwhelmed all of it. His pain is about to conqueror him completely .  He had a spiritual earthquake or felt the tremors of one, but he has not given up. His spiritual home is not destroyed.  The intensity of his spiritual, emotional, and physical pain is a ten on the scale of 1 to 10. But he has confessed, “For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” He is aware that his enemies are ready to pounce on him like a lion.  You know what it is like when folks realize that a person has sinned, especially a well-known person.

Generally, we are ready to de-bone them. Verses 19-20: The rigor of hatred that David’s enemies have for him is unparalleled. Just look at why his enemies are so hateful to him “because I follow the thing that good is.” He confessed his sin. He also restated his confidence in God.

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

Psalm 73:1-5 (MSG) An Asaph Psalm No doubt about it! God is good—good to good people, good to the good-hearted. But I nearly missed it, missed seeing his goodness.  I was looking the other way, looking up to the people at the top, envying the wicked who have it made. Who have nothing to worry about, not a care in the whole wide world.


Longman and concludes this Psalm 38 by stating

[the psalm] provides a powerful portrait of the pain of guilt. The difference between the godly and the wicked isn’t that the latter sin while the former do not, but rather that the godly feel remorse that leads them to repentance and a desire to move closer to God.

On the other hand, the wicked are calloused and do not feel as if they have done anything wrong. Even before the psalmist feels completely forgiven, he still calls on God to help him against his enemies who want to take advantage of him (p, 183).

I want to ends this Psalm with this statement. It is crucial that each believer confess their sins before their Heavenly father. Lawson stated In the Lord’s Model Prayer, he instructed us to seek God’s forgiveness constantly. This requires the acknowledgment of our transgressions to God (Matt. 6:12)” (Lawson 2004, 216). Like David, we should ask God to do what David did in Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) Search me, O God, and know my heart!Try me and know my thoughts!And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”


Cayce, Ken. 2017. “Books of the Bible.” Accessed October 8, 2018

Lawson, Steven. 2004. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group. Accessed October 8, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Longman, Tremper, III. 2014. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. Accessed October 8, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

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