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Commentary on Psalms - Volume 2
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PSALM 39

In the beginning of the psalm, David intimates that his heart had been seized with extreme bitterness of grief, which forced him to give utterance to complaints with too much vehemence and ardor. He confesses that whilst he was disposed to be silent, and to exercise patience, he was nevertheless compelled, by the vehemence of his sorrow, to break out into an excess which he by no means intended. Then he relates the complaints which he had made mingled with prayers, which indicate great trouble of mind; so that from this it appears that he had wrestled with no ordinary effort in resisting temptation, lest he should fall into despair.

To the chief musician, Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

It is well known that Jeduthun was one of the chief singers of whom sacred history makes mention. (1 Chronicles 9:16; 16:38, 41, 42) It is, therefore, probable that this psalm was delivered to the chief singer, who was of his household. Some, indeed, understand it as denoting the particular kind of tune, and suppose that it was the beginning of some other song; but this I consider too forced an interpretation. Nor can I agree with others who suppose that David here complains of some disease; for unless some urgent reason require it, it is improper to limit general statements to particular cases. On the contrary, from the extreme character of the sufferings which he here describes, it may be presumed that a variety of afflictions is here included, or, at least, that some one is referred to which was more severe than all the others, and one which had continued for a long time. Besides, it ought to be considered that in this psalm David is not proclaiming his own merit, as if in his affliction he had presented his prayers to God in the language, and according to the spirit dictated by true piety: he rather confesses the sin of his infirmity in bursting forth into immoderate sorrow, and in being led by the vehemence of this affection to indulge in sinful complaints.

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