Psalm 39

I said, ‘I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.’
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
    my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

‘Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.

‘Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

‘But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
    do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
    for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
    you consume their wealth like a moth –
    surely everyone is but a breath.

12 ‘Hear my prayer, Lord,
    listen to my cry for help;
    do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
    a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
    before I depart and am no more.’

Wow! Another anguish-ridden psalm from David. I am so thankful that the Bible takes a warts-and-all approach! How often have we felt as he does in those opening verses? We know we have nothing good to say, so we choose to say nothing at all. But then we find we can’t express anything good either and eventually we can’t hold back the dam anymore and everything explodes out. David seems to have directed his torrent of words in the right direction though: towards a God who is infinitely compassionate and gracious, towards a God who feels our pain, towards a God who is big enough to handle our shouting. The picture I have is of a tiny child beating his puny fists against the broad chest of his father, who simply waits it out and then gathers up the exhausted, weeping little one into his arms, murmuring, “There, there, I have you and everything is going to be alright.”


Questions for thought and discussion

  • How can we learn to express our emotions in the right direction?
  • How can we help our pain-ridden young people to experience the love of their heavenly Father?

Jenny Cheung

Jenny is the Independent Schools’ Worker in west & central Scotland. She’s also a mum of three and has a passion for the gym and the community choir she directs (the last two are not related!).