Psalm 38

Part 10


Tonight we will be looking at Psalm 38, which is written by David. Psalm 38 is another penitential Psalm in which David prays to God for forgiveness of his sins.In this Psalm, David is experiencing at least four kinds agony.


  1. He is experiencing some kind of illness that is making him suffer.
  2. His friends and family were avoiding him.
  3. His enemies were persecuting him.
  4. The guilt of his sin was causing him great pain as well.


We do not know what sin David is talking about in his Psalm, but some have suggested that it might be associated with his sin with Bathsheba. Whatever sin it was, David felt like God was punishing him because of his sin.


Psalm 38:1 A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance. O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!


David knew that he had sinned against God, and he is pleading with Him in his prayer not to rebuke him or punish him with His wrath and anger. He knows that God gets angry when his children break His law and that God chastens us to correct us. While no one enjoys being chasten by the Lord, it is beneficial to us as:


Hebrews 12:5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.


If we never received correction from our parents as children, then we would grow thinking we could do whatever we want. The same thing is true when it comes to Lord. If we become a Christian and then live in sin without correction, we can get to the point where we think we can do anything we want to, but when we are corrected by God through His providence, it reminds us that there are consequences to our sinful deeds and it helps us to wake up and see our sin for what it is, and how we need to take care of that sin to be pleasing to God.


God is chastening is what woke David up from his sin and caused him to seek God and ask for forgiveness for his sins. Next, David expresses how he feels while he is suffering the chastening of the Lord.


Psalm 38:2 For Your arrows pierce me deeply, And Your hand presses me down.3 There is no soundness in my flesh Because of Your anger, Nor any health in my bones Because of my sin.4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.5 My wounds are foul and festering Because of my foolishness.6 I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.7 For my loins are full of inflammation, And there is no soundness in my flesh.8 I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.


David gives a visual picture of how much pain, he is experiencing because of his sin. Now imagine having arrows in your body and, then being pressed down to the ground by big hand so that you cannot get up or even attempt to remove the arrows so your pain can subside.


Well thatís exactly how David feels about Godís chastening.


If our conscience has been trained by the Word of God, we will experience what David did when we sin against God. It should be detrimental to our soul when we find ourselves in this condition. The mind is powerful, and when we get too stressed or overwhelmed with guilt because of our sin it can make us ill. Our entire being can be affected by our sin and that is what is happing to David.


David describes his sins as going over his head, which means he was drowning in them and felt like they were so heavy on his soul that he could not lift them. I image David being chained to a huge weight and having water just about a foot about his head, and I can see him looking up and being able to see the light of the sun and trying to get his head high enough to take a breath, but he cannot because every time he tries to break the surface of the water, the weight attached to him pulls him back down.


This is exactly what sin can do to us when we allow it to take control of our lives. It will weigh us down and keep us separated from God no matter how hard we struggle to get away from that sin on our own.


In verse 5, I suppose David could be talking about some wounds that he had on his body, but I believe he using this description of wounds that are foul and festering to describe his sin. If you have an accident and you get a deep wound on your skin and you do not take care of it by cleaning it and keeping it clean, it will start stinking and oozing all kinds of nasty stuff. Left untreated it will kill you. This is a great visually illustration of sin because sin is foul and it is repulsive to God and it should be repulsive to us. If we donít take care of our sin and have it washed away by the blood of Jesus, the sin will do more damage to us until it causes spiritual death.


David understood the severity of his sin. Since he loved God and hated what he had done it was troubling him and made him feel broken and feeble. His loins were inflamed and skin was in turmoil. David certainly has a knack for giving us a visual picture of how ugly sin is and how it affects us.


While we may not be as good as David is at describing the effect of our sin, I think we can all relate to the pain that he is going through because all us have done things that we are not proud of in the past. Notice what else David says:


Psalm 38:9 Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You.10 My heart pants, my strength fails me; As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, And my relatives stand afar off.


David knows there is no one else that can help him with his situation except for God. David is open to God, and he is bearing his soul to Him because he knows that God is control and nothing can be hidden from Him. David mentions how even his sighing is not hidden from Him.


We need understand as Christian that God is the only person we can go to take care of our sin and our troubles, and we certainly cannot hide anything from Him.


Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.


Hebrews 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.


In verse 10, David gives us a strong mental picture of what his sin makes him feel like. In my mind, I think about how I have felt before when I was swimming and got out a little too far and could not touch. I swam and swam trying to get back toward the shore and would reach down with my foot to see if I had swam far enough, but I had not. I got so exhausted that my heart was pounding and I had no strength left in me, so I had to turn over and float on my back, otherwise I would have probably drowned.


Perhaps you have had a similar experience, but add on top of that feeling like you cannot see, which would be scary to me. This is what David felt like as he was dealing with the guilt of his sin. I feel sorry for him and anyone who has to deal with the guilt of their, but I am not sorry that we experience guilt because without it, we would stay in our sins.


Paul talks about this idea to the Corinthians:


2 Corinthians 7:8 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.


Paul did not want the Corinthians to feel guilty just for the fun of it, and he certain took no pleasure in it, but he was happy and thankful that their guilt caused them to see their sin and repent of it so they could get back right with God.


So, to experience guilt for sin, is a good thing, but it still doesnít change the fact that it will hurt and tear you up inside when you do feel guilty. David already felt like an open wound, but now it is like someone was pouring salt on it because we learn in verse 11 that his friends and family would have anything to do with him because of his sin, which implies to me that David is dealing with his sin with Bathsheba.


There are certain sins that we can get involved in that even our friends and loved ones will abandon us over. Since Davidís loved ones were not there for him in his time of need, it added to his misery. This is one area where God stands out from rest because God will never abandon you. Yes, He will punish you, and He hates the sins you get involved in, but He never stops loving you and when you reach out to Him for help and forgiveness of your sin He will be there for you every time. This can be proven by reading through the O.T. and seeing how God dealt with the children of Israel. Over and over again, He would forgiven them and let them start over when they repented and made an effort to get back right with God. That should be comforting to us as Christians to know that even if our family and friends abandon us in our hour of need, God will always be there for us, so we never have to face our troubles alone.


Psalm 38:12 Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, And plan deception all the day long.13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth.14 Thus I am like a man who does not hear, And in whose mouth is no response.


Right now, David was at his weakest. Not only was he sick, he was physically and mentally weak and no one was there to encourage him. This was the best time for his enemies to attack. Since David knew how vulnerable he was, and how easy his enemy could take him over, it added to his misery.


Even though his family and his friends have left him and his enemies were speaking against him, he does not try justify his sin to his loved ones or deal with the threats of his enemies. Since David was guilty of sin there wasnít anything he could say in his defense. He had no one to blame but himself. So, he felt like a deaf and mute man who could not hear the accusations against him or defend himself with words.


Again, I think most of us can relate to what David was going through because when we sin, we cannot blame someone else for what we did even if they influenced us, because we have a free will and no one can force us to sin. There is always a way out, but we have to be strong enough to choose the right way. When we donít, we cannot justify our sin, we can only be forgiven of it.


Psalm 38:15 For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God.16 For I said, "Hear me, lest they rejoice over me, Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me."17 For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me.18 For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin.19 But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong; And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied.20 Those also who render evil for good, They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.


Even when David felt like he was about to die, and he was surrounded by his enemies, He never gave up his hope in God. He was confident that God would hear his prayers and answer them. David knew that if God did not help him, his life was in danger, and he did not want his enemy to be able rejoice over him. If his enemies could defeat him, it would appear to them that they were more powerful than God. The last thing David wanted was for his sin to bring reproach on God.


David was full of sorrow, and he was ready to confess his iniquity so that God would forgive him and not allow his enemy to succeed, but while he was drowning in his sin his enemy had multiplied and became more powerful and he talks about how those who hate him have hated him from the wrong reasons. Some hated him, just because he stood for what was right.


Like David, we need to realize the importance of taking care of our sin and confessing it to God because the longer we live in sin, the stronger our enemy the devil will become. The last thing we should want is for our sin to do damage to name of God and to His church. It is bad enough when we sin in the first place, but to continue in that sin is far worse.


We are so fortunate to have a loving God that will allow us to sin and then be forgiven of that sin no matter how bad it is, but we must never forget that there are always consequences to face with any sin.


Psalm 38:21 Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, be not far from me!22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!


David make his finally plea to God, and as much pain as David is going through because of his sin, I can imagine he was crying as he made this last plea. He knew that he had sinned, but he does not want God to forsake him or be far from him. Also, he wants God to help him quickly because only God would be able to bring about His salvation. I am sure David felt relieved after this prayer because He knew that God heard his prayer and would answer it.


God will do the same for us. If we cry out to Him in prayer and ask Him for forgiveness and help, He will do it. How He helps will be done by His terms and His timing, but we must trust in the Lord and wait on Him knowing that He loves us and is working in the background for us.


In this Psalm, we have learned how foolish sin can be and what kind misery it can bring. Even though we may feel like we are about to die and even if our loved ones have abandoned us, we can know that God will be there for us and will never forsake us as:


Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"


God is our salvation, and we should never stop hoping in the promises He has given us because He has never failed to keep His promises, and He is not about to start now. So, keep fighting the good of fight of faith knowing that heaven will be your reward. I want to close my lesson with the words of Paul:


1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.