As we age, our preoccupation with our body and health increases. Every new pain or discomfort comes with that feeling that maybe this is something else. Every time that our doctor calls us after receiving our tests gives us chills. It gets worse when he or she says: “We need to talk.” Now this feeling is amplified when we have done something wrong.
Psalm 39 was composed during a situation like this. Most of the scholars believe that it was right after David’s son, the one that he had with Bathsheba died. David contracted an illness and almost died. During that time he developed an unsettling feeling of the proximity of death. He knew that he had sinned, and now God was going to punish him with death.
In this psalm David makes clear that he understands that life is short. He describes it poetically in these verses: “Psa. 39:4-6 Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.” Not only that, but he asks God to let him know how much time he has. He is not only curious about his life span. He wants to be sure that he has time enough to get things right.
One thing that he tried was to keep his mouth shut. But it seems that he did not get the results that he was looking for. “Psa. 39:2-3 But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased. My heart grew hot within me…” He thought that if he stopped talking, blaming, cursing, and complaining things would get better, but despite his desperation it did not work. This is what happens when we try to fix our sins with our own solutions. There is nothing that we can do that can fix our sins before the Lord. David should have known better and so should we.
He finally realized that only God could save him and forgive him. At that point the only thing that he could do was to cry for mercy and help. “Psa. 39:8 Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools.” How long will we keep trying to solve the problems that we created and trying to redeem ourselves from our sins? We need to learn with David to bring our wrongdoings to God and leave them at His feet.
At the end of the psalm David has one more thing to ask. He prays that God will give him more time so he could experience joy again. “Psa. 39:13 Look away from me, that I may rejoice again before I depart and am no more.” Like David, none of us would like to die without resolving relationships and without experiencing forgiveness for our sins. It is this kind of joy that David is talking about, the assurance that he is at peace with God.
Have a blessed week,