do not go quietly

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Psalm 38:13-20

Psalm 38:13 I am like a deaf person; I do not hear. I am like a speechless person who does not open his mouth.

Psalm 38:14 I am like a man who does not hear and has no arguments in his mouth

Psalm 38:15 because I put my hope in you, Yahveh; you will answer me, my Lord, my God.

Psalm 38:16 You see, I said, “Don’t let them be happy over me – those who are arrogant toward me when I stumble”

Psalm 38:17 because I am about to fall, and my time of anguish is constantly with me.

Psalm 38:18 So I confess my violation; I am anxious because of my sin.

Psalm 38:19 But my enemies are vigorous and powerful; many hate me for no reason.

Psalm 38:20 Those who repay evil for good attack me for chasing after good.

do not go quietly

The psalmist has sinned and does not feel worthy of deliverance. In fact, he is ready to remain mute before God and take his punishment, even if his fall is to the death. But something changes his mind. He thinks about those enemies of his who are also enemies of his God. The thought is that his downfall and ultimate disgrace will give those enemies more ammunition in their war against God.

So, he who was content to fade away without words decides to open his mouth and confess his violation. God gets more glory when the sinner repents and the door is opened for restoration.

If you think you have offended God and you are on your way out, don’t go quietly. Come back to him with a confession. God does not want to destroy you. He wants to restore you.

Lord, we choose to come back, not to go quietly.

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full disclosure

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Psalm 38:9-12

Psalm 38:9 Master, my every desire is in front of you; my sighing is not hidden from you.

Psalm 38:10 My heart races, my strength leaves me, and even the light of my eyes has faded.

Psalm 38:11 My loved ones and friends stand back due to my affliction, and my relatives stand at a distance.

Psalm 38:12 Those who intend to kill my soul set traps, and those who want to harm me spoke out to destroy me; they plot treachery all day long.

full disclosure

The misery the psalmist had expressed in yesterday’s section (3-8) is now repeated as another prayer to God. Why do this? It is not that God does not know what is going on. Verse nine makes that clear. But notice that God is being addressed as master. The servant turns to the master for help, because only the master is empowered to help.

In the same way, we have to get over our awareness of God’s omniscience, and learn to regularly come to him in prayer. Recounting what is going on in our lives is more than just therapy. It is an expression of faith. God can read the hidden sighs, but he wants us to come with him with full disclosure anyway. When we confess not only our failures but also our needs, we are inviting him to be our rescuer.

Master, Our sighing is not hidden from you. Come and rescue us!

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when justice is too much

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Psalm 38:3-8

Psalm 38:3 There is no soundness in my body because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.

Psalm 38:4 For my violations have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear.

Psalm 38:5 My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness.

Psalm 38:6 I am bent over and brought very low; all day long I go around in mourning

Psalm 38:7 because my insides are full of burning pain, and there is no soundness in my body.

Psalm 38:8 I am faint and severely crushed; I groan because of the anguish of my heart.

when justice is too much

The psalmist describes how he feels physically and emotionally because of his own failures. He draws a direct link from his present condition to his past sins. He does not blame anyone else – not even God, although he recognizes that his punishment comes from God. The punishment is all the more terrible because it is just. He finds himself in the uncomfortable position of one who must appeal to his own jailer for freedom.

What does one do in such a situation? Hopefully, one learns that God is just but that he is also merciful. The best course of action when confronted with an unbearable punishment one deserves is to appeal for mercy, because our just God is ready and willing to shorten the sentence.

Lord, shower us with your mercy. If we received what we deserve, we would not be able to bear it.

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remembering the price of sin

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Psalm 38:1-2

Psalm 38:11 Yahveh, do not punish me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath

Psalm 38:2 because your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has pressed down on me.

remembering the price of sin

The psalmist focuses on life at its lowest here. Everything is going wrong. He is a believer in God, but he has sinned, and feels God’s hand of punishment. His body is sick and sore and almost sightless. His enemies are seeking to take advantage of his condition to eliminate him altogether. He feels so ashamed, it is hard to speak. But he must speak, at least to God. He confesses (18).

This psalm contains the note “for remembrance.” One would think that the ordeal it describes is something one would want to forget, not remember. But may that never happen! May we never forget the terrible price of sin. Sin destroys. In the future, sin will destroy the reprobate in hell, and it destroys lives of those who cling to it presently. We need to remember that.

Lord, remind us of the terrible price we pay when we choose to disobey you.

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1superscription: A psalm of David for remembrance.

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he helps and delivers

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Psalm 37:39-40

Psalm 37:39 The salvation of the righteous is from Yahveh, their refuge in a time of distress.

Psalm 37:40 Yahveh helps and delivers them; he will deliver them from the wicked and will save them because they take refuge in him.

he helps and delivers

First, the psalmist had invited us to look at the wicked, and notice that their wickedness does not last. Now, he invites us to look at the righteous. He wants us to notice that the times are numerous that just when you think their troubles have destroyed them, there is deliverance. A miracle happens. The psalmist’s point is that when that happens, it is indeed a miracle because God has stepped in and saved those who had put their trust in him.

Lord, we choose to take refuge in you.

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trusting for a future

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Psalm 37:37-38

Psalm 37:37 Watch the blameless and observe the upright, because the person of peace will have a future.

Psalm 37:38 But transgressors will all be eliminated; the future of the wicked will be destroyed.

trusting for a future

The psalmist invites us to watch what is going on. If we pinpoint our observations too closely, we might miss reality. Reality is determined not by our present circumstances, but by our future. If we dare to trust God, we will see how faithful he is. If we turn our back on him because the dark side seems to be presently winning, we will miss that future.

Lord, we choose to stand by you in the present, so that we can have a future.

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on their way out

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Psalm 37:35-36

Psalm 37:35 I have seen a wicked, violent person well-rooted, like a flourishing native tree.

Psalm 37:36 Then I passed by and noticed he was gone; I searched for him, but he could not be found.

on their way out

The previous verse of this psalm promises a future ultimate destruction of the wicked. These verses are a reflection upon the providence of God as he deals with the wicked in the present. God’s people need not concern themselves that their enemies seem “well-rooted, like a flourishing native tree.” The psalmist remembers having enemies like that. Their wickedness and violence was as notorious as their apparent prosperity. But they are gone now. God has a way of rooting out the most stubborn tree which does not belong in his forest.

When I was in the army, I developed an attitude about people in my unit who made life difficult for me. I rarely opposed them. I had come to the conclusion that since each of us were assigned to our duty station temporarily, then the people who made life difficult for me were on their way out anyway. Consequently, I saw no reason to be anxious about them, or to return their opposition.

Lord, thank you that time is on the side of those who put their trust in you.

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you will watch

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Psalm 37:34

Psalm 37:34 Wait for Yahveh and keep to his road, and he will exalt you to inherit the land. You will watch when the wicked are destroyed.

you will watch

The promise in today’s text is that God is the one who will fight our battles. All we need to do is stay on the path he prescribes, and wait faithfully for him to act. God promises to act by destroying the wicked, who oppose both the righteous and God himself. The payoff to a life of faithfulness is that we will inherit the land (reward) and have an opportunity to watch when all the harm and corruption is cleansed from God’s universe (destruction).

Note how the New Testament describes this same payoff:

“And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18 NASB).

Lord, we don’t want to miss it when you engage all that is evil in this universe, and defeat all your enemies.

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a gospel twist

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Psalm 37:30-31

Psalm 37:30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom; his tongue speaks what is just.

Psalm 37:31 The instruction of his God is in his heart; his steps do not falter.

Psalm 37:32 The wicked one lies in wait for the righteous and intends to kill him;

Psalm 37:33 Yahveh will not leave him in the power of the wicked one or allow him to be condemned when he is judged.

a gospel twist

This promise of God’s protection is also prophetic of the life and ministry of Christ – except for a gospel twist. The wicked intended to kill Jesus, and it was allowed. Jesus was condemned and executed in spite of the fact that he had God’s instruction in his heart and only spoke wisdom and justice. His betrayal and execution were not a mistake. God planned for the death of Christ to atone for those of us who have put their trust in him.

It is essential that this song introduce a hint of substitutionary atonement at this point. Otherwise, yesterday’s section might give worshipers the notion that righteousness is obtained by merely abandoning sin. No, even as repentant believers, we cannot have access to the throne without a crucified Savior.

Lord, thank you for Jesus, who took condemnation upon himself, so that those who trust you can have permanent protection.

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a gospel twist

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Psalm 37:30-31

Psalm 37:30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom; his tongue speaks what is just.

Psalm 37:31 The instruction of his God is in his heart; his steps do not falter.

Psalm 37:32 The wicked one lies in wait for the righteous and intends to kill him;

Psalm 37:33 Yahveh will not leave him in the power of the wicked one or allow him to be condemned when he is judged.

a gospel twist

This promise of God’s protection is also prophetic of the life and ministry of Christ – except for a gospel twist. The wicked intended to kill Jesus, and it was allowed. Jesus was condemned and executed in spite of the fact that he had God’s instruction in his heart and only spoke wisdom and justice. His betrayal and execution were not a mistake. God planned for the death of Christ to atone for those of us who have put their trust in him.

It is essential that this song introduce a hint of substitutionary atonement at this point. Otherwise, yesterday’s section might give worshipers the notion that righteousness is obtained by merely abandoning sin. No, even as repentant believers, we cannot have access to the throne without a crucified Savior.

Lord, thank you for Jesus, who took condemnation upon himself, so that those who trust you can have permanent protection.

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