A Psalm of David.  To bring to remembrance. 

This is another psalm by David, Israel’s great shepherd-king, and the one God chose to sit as Prince on the throne of Israel on earth during the coming kingdom of God. This psalm is actually a prayer. David asks the LORD for deliverance, both from his enemies, and from a disease which is upon him. This psalm is said to be to “bring to remembrance.” This could express David’s desire that the LORD remember him now in his trouble and work to deliver him. Or perhaps this title was given to the psalm after David had been delivered, and he dedicated it to the chief Musician so that all who heard it could remember how David had been delivered by the LORD from all the troubles that had come upon him.

1. O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,

It seems that these troubles had come upon David because of his sin, and he here begs the LORD not to further rebuke him because of His wrath against him. Perhaps this psalm is written regarding David’s punishment for his sin with Bathsheba and his causing the death of her husband Uriah.

Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!

David again recognizes that the LORD has hot displeasure against him, and pleads with Him not to chasten him further in this state of mind. I say “further” because of what we read in the next verse.

2. For Your arrows pierce me deeply,

The LORD’s punishments against David are here pictured as arrows piercing his flesh. He has been wounded by the LORD’s wrath against him.

And Your hand presses me down.

The LORD’s hand, that is, His power was against David, pressing him down. What a different experience this must have been for David, who was used to the LORD’s favor and blessing resting upon him, not His wrath! In this situation, though, even the favored one of the LORD was proven to be a sinner, like all the rest.

3. There is no soundness in my flesh

Here David states literally what he had hinted at in the previous verses, telling us what the effects of the LORD’s anger against him had caused. That wrath had taken away his health, until he could say that there was no soundness in his flesh.

Because of Your anger,

David recognized that this was no natural illness, as might chance upon any man today. He knew that this sickness was upon him because of the anger of Yahweh against him.

Nor any health in my bones

He speaks of even his bones being ill because of this punishment.

Because of my sin.

Again, it was the LORD’s punishment for his sin that had caused David to enter this state of illness. We must remember that David was living in a time when the LORD would bless men for serving Him and punish men for disobeying Him. Thus, the LORD could bring illness upon a person as a punishment for his sin. Yet this is not the way the LORD works in this dispensation of grace. Illness may come upon men for sin, such as the sexually transmitted diseases that many suffer from as a result of their deviant behavior. Yet one who is raped or abused is just as likely to suffer from such an illness, though what happened to such a person is no fault of their own. That is because these things are just the natural result of sin, and not brought upon people by the direct action of the LORD. The LORD does not punish people for their sin in our day. Instead, every act of His is gracious, and is an act of love and favor to the undeserving. Yet this is not the way it was in David’s day, and he was suffering punishment directly from Jehovah as a result of his sin.

4. For my iniquities have gone over my head;

David speaks of his iniquities going over his head like the waves might overwhelm the head of a drowning man. Bullinger in the Companion Bible suggests that this refers to a porter carrying so many burdens that they mount up over his head. This picture fits well with the next line of the verse. The point is that they are too great for him. There is nothing he can do to reverse them, no way he can repay them. Yes, when men commit murder and adultery, there is no way to take such things back. No provision but death was made in the law for such sin. Were it not for the LORD’s lovingkindness and grace, David would have been destroyed by the sin he had committed.

Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

David’s iniquities were too much for him to bear. Indeed, who could bear the full weight of his own sin? Thank the LORD that He bore our iniquities for us upon the cross!

5. My wounds are foul and festering

David describes the physical manifestations of the illness he was suffering from as wounds that the LORD has inflicted upon him by the arrows he described in verse 2. Apparently, he suffered from some sort of foul and festering sores upon his body.

Because of my foolishness.

David recognizes that it is his own foolishness that has brought this disease upon him. Remember, in the Scriptures, a fool is not so much one who is mentally deficient, as it is one who is morally deficient. It was David’s own immoral actions that were the cause of his suffering.

6. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly;

David was greatly troubled by this illness that was upon him, as well as by the remembrance of the sin that had caused it. He was greatly humbled by the curse that had come upon him.

I go mourning all the day long.

David testifies that all the day long he mourns his pitiful condition, and the anger of Jehovah that had caused it.

7. For my loins are full of inflammation,

David’s very loins were inflamed, reminding us again of the sexually transmitted diseases of today. Indeed, it was such a sin that had brought this punishment upon him. Yet remember that this was no natural illness, such as the immoral of our day might suffer from, but rather an illness brought upon him as punishment from the LORD, Who had chosen him as king, and thus was responsible for his actions as king. What David had done reflected upon the One Who had chosen him, and so He was obligated to bring punishment upon him. Yet the LORD chooses no one to specially represent Him today, and so no such punishment is ever necessary. It would be entirely inappropriate for the LORD to have to punish anyone in the day when He has chosen only to act in grace.

And there is no soundness in my flesh.

David feels that the disease has so consumed him that there is nothing sound and healthy left in his flesh. He was indeed suffering greatly from the wrath of Yahweh against him.

8. I am feeble and severely broken;

Again David describes his weakness because of this illness, and the broken condition of his body through all he was suffering.

I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.

It was not just his illness that laid heavy upon David, but also the turmoil in his heart because he knew that it was the LORD, the One he loved and served, Who in anger had laid this disease upon him.

9. Lord, all my desire is before You;

David has laid out his desire before the LORD. He knows all that is in David’s heart regarding this matter. If this indeed is a psalm regarding his sin with Bathsheba, we know that this would be after he had admitted his sin when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan. Now he has laid out all that was in his heart before the LORD, and trusted in Him to do as He would. We would do well to do the same when we have been caught in any sin, or at any time when we are in great difficulty. As Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Here the current Hebrew text reads “Adonai” as the name translated “Lord” here, but in the original text this was “Yahweh.” This is one of the 134 times when the Sopherim, the self-appointed editors of the Scriptures, changed the original YHWH to “Adonai,” out of a misguided desire to honor the name of the Jehovah. Their reasoning on this seems hard to follow many times. What the original text said was that all David’s desire was before Yahweh.

And my sighing is not hidden from You.

His grief and sorrow, indicated by his sighing, had not been hidden from the LORD. He knew how weighed down David’s heart was by what he had done. It is good if, when we sin, our hearts are made heavy by it. Sad indeed it is when we are unaffected by the evils we have committed!

10. My heart pants, my strength fails me;

David very poetically pictures his very heart within him as panting in weariness. His strength is failing him due to the illness that is upon him because of his sins.

As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.

We are all familiar with the idea of light in someone’s eyes signifying health or happiness. Here, the light has gone out of David’s eyes, as he suffers under the punishment that has come upon him.

11. My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague,

David’s very loved ones and friends are standing aloof from him because of his illness. This word “plague” is the same word often associated with leprosy, a seemingly supernatural disease that in many ways symbolized sin in the Old Testament. We have no record of David ever being struck with this particular illness, yet it seems clear that David is here comparing his illness to this terrible disease, in that the actions of his friends and loved ones in standing afar off from him because of it is similar to what they would have done had he had leprosy. So David has to suffer this, on top of his mental and physical anguish!
And my relatives stand afar off.

Even those related to David by blood are unwilling to stand with him at this time for fear of the disease he is suffering from.

12. Those also who seek my life lay snares for me;

David’s enemies are taking the opportunity of his illness to lay traps for him. Anticipating his possible recovery, they are planning ways to destroy him if he does get better. Even recovery hold difficulties for David in this illness!

The Hebrew word for “life” here is the Hebrew word nephesh, which means “soul.” Here, it is put for the person of David. The word is rightly interpreted as meaning “life,” but this is not its proper translation. It would have been better to translate it “soul,” and let the reader interpret it as meaning “life” in this case.

It is interesting to note the use of the word “those” here. Though we assume this is talking about his enemies, notice that it comes right after the mention of his relatives in verse 11. Could David particularly be thinking of false friends and relatives who thus would seek after his life? We know that such false friends and unfaithful kin existed, and caused much trouble for David throughout his later life.

Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction,

Notice they only speak of it, rather than actively working to bring it about. His enemies too are standing back, and waiting to see what the outcome of this disease will be.

And plan deception all the day long.

David repeats what he said in the first line for emphasis. They are planning deceptions, ready to carry them out if he does indeed recover.

13. But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;

David knows of his danger from his enemies, yet he is like a deaf man who does not even hear their words. This is because he does not respond to them. He is in no position to deal with the schemes of his enemies, and so he does not respond to them at all.

And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth.

Like a man who cannot speak, David does not answer the threats that are piling up against him.

14. Thus I am like a man who does not hear,

David repeats this again for emphasis. He is not acknowledging the schemes against him, even though he knows about them, thus being like a deaf man who did not even hear them.

And in whose mouth is no response.

Again he repeats that he is like a mute man, offering no response to his enemies. He is repeating this for emphasis, to make us particularly notice the reason he is acting this way, as given in the next verse.

15. For in You, O LORD, I hope;

This is why David does not even attempt to respond to his enemies. His expectation for deliverance from the difficulties he is in is not in his own power to meet them. Rather, it is in the LORD His God. He is the One Who can deliver David. He knows that he cannot save himself on his own. How good it is when we too can learn this important lesson! All our expectation is indeed in Him.

Notice here the use of the word “hope.” As I have said before, “hope” in our modern English has come to mean something you are unsure about, like saying, “I hope this will happen.” But in the Bible it means something you are sure will come and are waiting for. You would not say that you “hope” Christmas will come this year, yet you could say you are expecting it. That is what this word in Scripture means, and thus “expectation” would be a better word to use.

You will hear, O Lord my God.

David trusts that it is the LORD Who will hear these enemies’ schemes, and respond to them. He relies upon Him, even when suffering from the illness the LORD has laid upon him for his sin. He can surely be an example for us today, to trust in the LORD no matter what!

Again here the word is “Adonai” in our Bibles, but should be “Yahweh,” as the ancient text read this before the Sopherim got their dishonest hands upon it.

16. For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me,

This is what David had said to the LORD before he waited in expectation upon Him. He pled with Him to hear him, in order that these enemies of his would not be able to rejoice over him. Remember, David was God’s representative upon earth, and these men who rejoiced over his troubles were thus rejoicing against God.

Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.”

Again he trusts in the LORD not to allow this to happen. When he falls into trouble, he does not want them to get the power over him.

17. For I am ready to fall,

David views himself as teetering on the brink, and being about to fall if the LORD does not step in to aid him. Perhaps we have gone through similar times in our own lives, when it seemed that only the LORD stood between us and disaster! Thank our God that He is a very present help in times of trouble.

And my sorrow is continually before me.

There was nothing to make David forget, and no way to escape the constant memory of his sorrow. No doubt this is because the reminders of it were there in his own body, not to mention among the members of his own family.

18. For I will declare my iniquity;

David has confessed his iniquity. He no longer tries to deny it. Getting past that point of denying our sins is very important in coming to the place of broken confession before the LORD that David has come to in this psalm.

I will be in anguish over my sin.

It was not just the illness that the LORD laid upon David that has caused his anguish. His soul is also in anguish over the sin he has committed. We know from the Scripture record that David was a man with a great heart, and now the evils he had committed must have weighed most heavily upon him.

19. But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong;

David knew he was not facing enemies who were weak and easily defeated. These enemies were a real challenge to David, and he needed the help of God if he was to overcome them. In the same way, we know that in our day the enemies of the truth and of righteousness are far stronger than those who are the friends of these things. We too need the Lord’s help, or we will be overwhelmed, even in our day. We need God to stand on our side, or we will be sure to fall.

And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied.

David knew that the number of his enemies had grown. These did not hate David with a good cause, but hated him for no good reason. Again, this probably refers to the time when David was being punished for his sin with Bathsheba. We know that this punishment resulted in the eventual revolt of many of the Israelites under David’s own son Absalom. He was hated then by many Israelites without any good reason. Yet in our day too we who stand on the Word of God are often hated without a cause.

20. Those also who render evil for good,

It is clear here that the meaning for the Hebrew words translated “good” and “evil” in our Bibles has more to do with prosperity and calamity than it does with righteousness and sin. David had worked to benefit these very men who were now seeking his harm. They had truly rendered him evil for good.

They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.

Here “good” means “right.” As David followed right ways and ways that led to an outcome that was right, so these men hated him. It is common for those who do evil to become the enemies of those who do good. Perhaps they cannot stand to be shown up by those who do not join them in their wicked practices.

21. Do not forsake me, O LORD;

This is David’s cry and his prayer as he faces these adversaries who so hate him and seek his harm. He calls upon the LORD, knowing that His help is all he can truly count on in his time of distress.

O my God, be not far from me!

Again, he calls on God to be near him as he faces this woe.

22. Make haste to help me,

David looks to God for help, and calls upon Him to bring that help speedily. As he faced not only enemies, but also illness brought on him by God’s punishing hand, he never hesitated to seek the LORD for strength and help. In the same way, even in our own sin and distress we should not hesitate to pray to our God and seek His help. We may be at fault, but He is very gracious, and our help truly does come from Him.

O Lord, my salvation!

So David looked to the LORD even now to be his salvation. Again, “Lord” here was an occurrence when the Sopherim changed “Yahweh” to “Adonai.” It was Yahweh David looked to to save him. Let us ever look to Him as well, for He is truly our Savior!

To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun.

Probably when this time of distress, illness, and adversity was over, David dedicated this psalm to the Chief Musician for public use. He probably wanted all Israel to know that even when one has sinned, the LORD is still the one we can look to for help.

Jeduthun apparently is the name of the particular Chief Musician David dedicates this psalm to here. According to Appendix 65 of the Companion Bible, Jeduthun was one of three directors of temple worship, or the “Chief Musicians.” They are mentioned in I Chronicles 16:41-42.

42. and with them Heman and Jeduthun, to sound aloud with trumpets and cymbals and the musical instruments of God. Now the sons of Jeduthun were gatekeepers.

They are also discussed in I Chronicles 25:1-6.

1a. Moreover David and the captains of the army separated for the service some of the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals…3. Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp to give thanks and to praise the LORD…6b. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the authority of the king.

We also read of him in II Chronicles 5:12.

12 and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets—

Finally, he is mentioned in II Chronicles 35:15.

15a. And the singers, the sons of Asaph, were in their places, according to the command of David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s seer.

Bullinger suggests that Jeduthun was also called “Ethan,” in other words, he had two names. This “Ethan” is mentioned in I Chronicles 15:17 and 19 as one of the three musicians, and so he must be Jeduthun under another name.

This is the first of three psalms connected with Jeduthun. According to what we discussed in my message on “The Psalm Titles and Habakkuk 3,” this dedication should be in the postscript of psalms 38, 61, and 76, not in the prologue of psalms 39, 62, and 77, where our Bibles place them. This man, a Chief Musician, was given charge of this psalm by David to perform it for the people to remind them of God’s answer to David’s prayer, and His help in times of trouble.