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Psalm 39: A Reflection

Ruby is a freelance writer from the Philippines. Besides writing, she enjoys gardening and studying the Scripture.


Reflecting on Psalm 39 in my personal bible study this morning, I could imagine the author King David wrote this as he came to a stark realization about his own life--a realization that really hit him so hard. Here, the writer presents human facts which remind us of sheer realities about life that appear to have been forgotten by us. This psalm is a beautiful passage to reflect about. Let me share with you what I have found out what these realities are.

The Realities of Sin and Brevity of Life

"1 I said to myself, I will watch what I do
and not sin in what I say.
I will hold my tongue
when the ungodly are around me.”
2 But as I stood there in silence—
not even speaking of good things—
the turmoil within me grew worse.
3 The more I thought about it,
the hotter I got,
igniting a fire of words:
4 Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath” (Psalm 39:1-5, NLT).

Verse 1 really speaks to me, in a personal level. Many times, I promised to myself to be extra careful with my mouth and tongue so that i will not sin especially when I am with colleagues and unbelievers. But several times I failed with my own promise. Why? Verse 2-3 provides the answer. The more I keep quiet trying to listen to those around me, the more my heart pounds. As i keep on listening more, my mind becomes hotter and words become intense ready to burst. So, even in my own mind and heart, the debate continues and words could not be stopped. Sin indeed is real, whether it's inside or outside of us.

In verse 4-5, the Writer King David reminds us of the brevity of life. He calls our attention to the fact that our Time here on this earth is very short. He even specifies it that "our Days are numbered." In verse 5 he makes it even more concrete to us by saying that our life is less than two meters by using the imagery of "no longer than the width of my hand." Additionally, he states that our whole lifetime is just a jiffy, a puff, a recess.


Realities of Amassing Wealth and Putting Trust on It

"6 We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
not knowing who will spend it.
7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you.
8 Rescue me from my rebellion.
Do not let fools mock me.
9 I am silent before you; I won’t say a word,
for my punishment is from you.
10 But please stop striking me!
I am exhausted by the blows from your hand.
11 When you discipline us for our sins,
you consume like a moth what is precious to us.
Each of us is but a breath" (Psalm 39:6-11).

In Verse 6 the writer reminds us that we spend so much effort trying to amass wealth on earth. But we have forgotten that as we sacrifice our health and when we die, we can never even spend a single peso or dollar of it for people who have never worked hard for it will actually spend the money we have worked so hard. Verse 7 reminds us not to put trust on our wealth our hope should be on God and God alone for everything on this earth will simply vanish and God alone can give us eternal life-in Him alone is our hope, nothing and no where else.

In the next verse, the King David speaks that what humanity is doing is but a form of rebellion, a disregard to God's word. Thus, the struggles and suffering we are in, He allows them too. Sometimes he allows things them to discipline us. David ends this part by stating that when God disciplines us, He removes what is precious to us, what we hold so dearly in our lives. Perhaps so that we may recognize our nothingness and see God more clearly in our lives.


A Plea for Mercy and Reminder that Man's Stay on Earth is Temporary

"12 Hear my prayer, O Lord!
Listen to my cries for help!
Don’t ignore my tears.
For I am your guest—
a traveler passing through,
as my ancestors were before me.
13 Leave me alone so I can smile again
before I am gone and exist no more" (Psalm 39:12-13).

Upon realizing, David pleads to hear his prayer for mercy. In tears he begs for help from the Lord. With this plea, he realizes that life here on earth is indeed transient by saying "For I am your guest--...", just like those who have died before us. Then he pleads to give him back his happiness again to grant him back his smile.

What a beautiful psalm! This is a passage worth our time of reflection, consideration, and meditation. Studying and sharing this passage has blessed me so much today. It has filled my mind with good thoughts. It has fattened my soul. It gave me so much inspiration today. I encourage each one to spend time with God and His words.


© 2022 Ruby Campos

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