Psalms Chapter 39

Psalms Chapter 39 #Fear #Tongue #Silence #Dread #Sin #Forgiveness
Unless otherwise stated all Scriptures in this devotional are from the King James Version of the Bible.)


Many of the laments that we have read are flavored with anger or even a slightly bitter tone. Just look at this one. The words of this psalm show a man who is contemplative and desirous of God’s mercy and grace. There is a sense of a tug-of-war in the tonality of this words that the psalmist uses as he speaks to God about his situation. His sins are ever-present in his mind. He uses terminology that is similar to the wisdom literature of his time. He declares “I will take heed to my ways.”  Now look at Prov 16:17 “The road of right living bypasses evil; watch your step and save your life.” Do you see the similarity with what David said? Longman considers this lament “{Interesting and rare], in that it does not end with a clear resolution (Longman 2014, 4184). Please find attached an explanation of what wisdom literature entails.

God loves his children, but he does not promise either of us a bed filled with rose petals. Maybe He does promise us a rose garden though. Nothing is more beautiful than a flower bed filled with blooming roses. Then when you try to pick them – ouch those piercing thorns. I have often wondered why He placed thorns on roses. Maybe they are a reminder of what we look like to HIM, and the thorns are the issues in life that only He can remove without damaging the beauty of the rose or its stem!

I am crying out God, Please Listen o Me.

1(To the chief Musician, even to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David.) I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.

David is having a conversation with God about how he [David] uses his tongue. He is explaining that he will not complain to God about his situation in a negative way before the “wicked.”  Go back to Psalm 37, and 38 to see what he was doing. Wisdom literature warns about the tongue and our use of it. He repented to God about the things he said in front of the wicked. Now he is going to control his tongue – while he is in front of the wicked. 

In many instances it causes us to sin.

  • James 3:6 “And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defiled the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”
  • James 3:8 “But the tongue can no man tame; [it is] an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” Note James says no human being can tame the tongue.
    • Think about yourself.
      • What happens when anger develops inside you?
      • When you want to do something, and someone is preventing you from doing it?
      • What thoughts ran through your head? How are you visualizing what you will say and or do to this person who has assaulted your emotional person
  • Controlling one’s tongue begins with controlling one’s thoughts.  Here is a treasure trove for you. “Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind.”
  •  Isaiah knew who he was as a human being the instant that God was commissioning him to complete a specific task. He knew that he had a battle with his thoughts that led to him having a battle with his tongue. So, he told God that he was a man of “unclean lips.” 
  • Isaiah 6:6-7 “Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, [which] he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:” “And he laid [it] upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.”
  • I find myself praying this prayer because I do not want my mind filled with thoughts that violate the holiness of the Holy Spirit that lives in me. I am continually pleading for God to shut my brain down and erase thoughts that do not belong there. Look at the next steps that David took.
  • I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.
  • My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.

Verse 2: Now David has determined that his silence needed to cover everything that he said. He figured that if he did not say anything whether good or bad, it would get him out of trouble. But being silent on every matter did not erase the pain that he was feeling in the previous chapter. His concern? I don’t want to sin with my mouth-the tongue is impossible to bridle-so 

  • I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. In today’s vernacular “I will shut it!”
  • But even though I shut it, “My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned:” Now he acts. The silence was too much. His pain is churning inside of him. The self-imposed silence was making his agitation. his fearfulness, worse.
  • Sometimes all we need to do when our feelings are about to explode out of our chests, so to speak, is “[our] tongue. Who did David speak to?
  • LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I amCompare us with David.
    • When do we go to the source of all healing?
    • Do we know our end when our lives are in turmoil?
    • Is that what determines how we act when our soul is about to explode?
  • David chose not hang his dirty laundry all over social media for the world to hear and see. He did not sit at the gates of the city – he could, after all, he was the king, and tell anyone who would listen to him about the contents of his troubled soul.
  • David realized that he was sinning by talking about his “issues” before the wicked. So, he went to THE PAIN TAKER-God! 
  • Contrast what David did with Jeremiah 20:9 ESV “If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” JEREMIAH HAD TO SPEAK- but he did not speak before the wicked. That was David’s problem.

When God’s people ‘VENT’ about each other to unsaved persons they are bringing shame to the name of God! It is best to take it to the throne. Think about who we are instead and also about the brevity of our lives on this ball of clay. David recognized that when he cried out om verses 5 and 6.

  • 5Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

Verse 5 David recognizes the measure of his life is unsubstantial “ a handbreadth, mine age is as nothing before thee.” A “handbreadth” means the width of one’s hand.  The was a unit of measurement in the ancient near east

  • I Kings 7:26 “Its thickness [his life] was a handbreadth, and its brim was made like the brim of a cup, like the flower of a lily. It held two thousand baths.”

David comprehends that his lifespan is short. See James 4:14 ESB “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” That is us! Not just David.

He also understands that God exists outside the boundaries of space, time, and distance. Those are the parameters that constrict our lives, but not God’s ability to reach us.

6Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.

What is the purpose of life? Having it all does not change the internal turmoil that a person experiences. In fact, when one dies, it all goes to someone who may not even appreciate it. Verse 6 is similar to Ecclesiastes 2:18-23 (ESV

  •  I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 
  • So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.
  • What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity [pointless].”
  • See also Luke 12:16-20 ESV 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?
  • 7And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.
  • 8Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.
  • 9I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.
  • 10Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.
  • 11When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.

Finally, David comes to His senses and realizes that playing dumb, whining in front of the wicked does not sustain him. Yes, he is waiting for God to answer him. However, his “hope is in [God.] No matter what happens-he has confidence in the creator of the universe. 

He tells God that he chose to “not open his mouth” because he felt that he was being punished by God for His sins. Say what? Look at what David said. “When thou [GOD] with [your] rebukes dost [correct me for iniquity,] thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.” We are nothing. Dust in the wind compared to God. We have nothing to give Him for the redemption of our sins.

But Glory to God. He-God sent His one and only son so we can categorically state in this day and age that we are connected to God and are forgiven! Cayce submits his thoughts on the word “Selah as in verse 11). “Selah: In this case would mean think on these things” Cayce 2018, Psalm 39.). Think about the meaning, length, breadth, and meaning of life. THink about the fact that all things come from God and He alone has the absolute solution to all problems. Then pray!

  • 12Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.
  • 13O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

Lord God – that is the beginning of his plea. Just listen to me. Are you saying that right now? Almost everyone who receives these devotionals from me has something in their lives that they are crying out to God about. You want his peace, don’t you? You do not want to feel as if God is a stranger to you, do you? NO!

  • Spare us oh, Lord God, then I will know that my strength will be improved. It will be recovered before I step out of my front door. Before my mate goes to sleep. Before my children leave this ball of clay and I am no more filling the seat at the head of the table.
  • That sounds depressing, doesn’t it? David felt that if God did not answer his prayer, he would cease to exist! That is some significant remorse or emotional guilt. Guilt blackens our thought processes and dampens our reasons to live. Know this my, friends. You have hope!. Although this Psalms does not end with a resolution, I want to end it with a statement of hope.
1 John 3:2 ESV Beloved, we are God’schildrennow, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” You, yes you, are special to God. He is your Abba! “If you have pain-he will break it! If you feel lost turn around and see Him standing there! Do you need freedom or saving from depression, anxiety, headaches, confusion, and or fear? He can erase it all.


Now rejoice and thank Him because your shackles have been removed. Where is your joy most explosive?


Cayce, Ken. 2017. “Books of the Bible.” Accessed October 9, 2018.

Lawson, Steven. 2004. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group. Accessed October 9, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Longman, Tremper, III. 2014. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. Accessed October 9, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

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