Psalm 39 Commentary
The psalmist will do his best to keep away from evil. He keeps quiet to ensure his mouth doesn’t breed trouble. But from his position of apparent innocence, more questions swell up within his heart.
“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.”
Then a shocking discovery. “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.” Everyone, believers included.
So let’s check what everyone is doing in view of this naked fact. Some pile-up wealth even when they know it all comes to nothing at the end of it all. But the psalmist seeks forgiveness for his transgressions. He specifically prays that the LORD doesn’t make him the scorn of fools.
The fools may represent individuals who feel there is nothing more than the life we know. They, therefore, seek maximum pleasure and fulfillment from it. The saint on the other hand scorns the present life in preference for a better tomorrow in God’s presence. Let the LORD secure his after-life otherwise, there will be no end to shame.
The psalmist has just seen a movie between now and the end of his life. There is nothing to write home about. It could be an important exercise for many today. See-through your possible achievements, great or small. See-through your social status, most popular or otherwise very private and obscure. Push your income to the highest point and replace the richest man in the world. Consider the wisdom route and be the most admired of men. What about power and authority? You can also have it.
Then comes the naked truth of life’s brevity. Everything now looks vain and a chase after wind. The psalmist won’t have it that way. There should be more to existence. These pages provide an answer: the LORD God Almighty. A return to the LORD God in repentance and then it can be good.
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. First Corinthians 15 verse 19. The psalmist prays for a better outcome. His own isn’t at all different from his ancestors. He dwells with God as a foreigner or stranger as did his ancestors.
There is a thought that the psalmist is anticipating the resurrection. We have a pointer to blessed immortality in the presence of God. Then the saint will not be a stranger at all.
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