Final Thoughts on Psalm 38:1-12
O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure! For Your arrows pierce me deeply, And Your hand presses me down. There is no soundness in my flesh Because of Your anger, Nor any health in my bones Because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds are foul and festering Because of my foolishness. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are full of inflammation, And there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart pants, my strength fails me; As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me. My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, And my relatives stand afar off. Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, And plan deception all the day long. NKJV
Psalm 38 was written by David at some point in his life when the Lord was chastening him for some type of sin. Just as an earthly parent will chasten his child for disobeying, so God, as our heavenly Father, will chasten us for disobeying His commandments (Heb. 12:5-8). In our text, we see three truths regarding our heavenly Father’s chastisement.
First, in verses 1-2, God chastises by convicting the conscience. Sin defiles the conscience (I Cor. 8:7), but repentance cleanses the defiled conscience. The inward effect of a defiled conscience is conviction and the emotional weight of guilt (vs. 2, 4). The cure for the emotional weight of a guilty conscience is repentance and confession of our sin to the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:1-2, Matt. 11:28, I Jn. 1:9). The emotional weight of our guilt robs us of our joy as Christians, thus bringing about depression (vs. 6, 8; Psa. 51:12). Again, the cure for this depression is repentance.
Second, we see in verse 3, that God sometimes chastens his children by bringing physical illness upon them (vs. 5, 7, 10). Like an earthly father who is unable to get his child’s attention through mere verbal rebuke, when God cannot get our attention by convicting our consciences, He usually resorts to more severe methods. Physical illness is our heavenly Father’s equivalent of a spanking. If physical chastening fails to correct the His child’s transgressions, God may even take the life of the rebellious Christian, thereby bringing an end to the shaming of His holy name by His disobedient child (I Cor. 11:30, Jas. 5:19-20). The Lord struck King Uzziah with fatal leprosy because, in his pride, Uzziah disobeyed God and usurped the authority of the priests by going into the temple himself to burn incense (II Chron. 26). In Acts 5, The Lord slew Ananias and Sapphira because they lied to the Holy Spirit regarding the amount of money they had given to the church at Jerusalem.
Third, God’s chastisement sometimes ends in broken relationships. Sin can wreck even the strongest of relationships. How many marriages have been wrecked by the sins of adultery, or drunkenness? Sometimes the broken relationships caused by sin lead to outright hatred and a desire for revenge (v. 12). David experienced some of these situations himself in his broken relationship with his own son, Absalom, and his counselor, Ahithophel (Psa. 22:12-14). Jacob’s deceit and lies led to his brother, Esau, swearing to kill him (Gen. 27). It takes a long time and a lot of effort to build relationships, but it only takes a moment to tear them down.
How do we build relationships? By accounting others as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:3), by doing what is always good for the benefit of others (Eph. 4:29), and by treating others in the same way that we would like to be treated by them (Lk. 6:31).
How is your relationship with others? How is your relationship with God? Is your conscience clean and guilt free? Or are there things in your life that you need to repent of and seek God’s forgiveness for; and perhaps that of other people as well?