Psalm 39

39:0In Psalm 38 David was ill. We think that Psalm 39 is about the same time in David's life. He thought that he would soon die. So he thinks about death in this psalm. He says that life is short. People soon go from the earth. They are like shadows, or the wind. One minute they are there, the next they are gone! So David finishes by with a prayer: let me live a little longer.

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This is a song that David wrote.

It is for Jeduthun, the leader of the music.

1 I said, I will be careful what I do so that I do not sin.

I will be careful what

2 I say.

I will shut my mouth when the godless are near me.

3 I will be like a dumb man and not speak.

I will not even talk about good things.

But it hurt me to do this and the pain in my heart grew worse.

It was like a fire inside me when I thought about it.

I just had to say something!

39:3Verses 1-3: David says that he is not going to say anything. Even though godless people make him want to speak, he will not. But this makes him feel worse. So David decides that he will say something.

4 Lord, tell me about my life,

how long it will be and when it will finish.

Then I will know how weak I am.

5 Look, you have made my life just as wide as my hand!

The length of my life is as nothing to you.

It is true that the life of everybody is like the wind.


6 People walk about just like shadows.

They are like the wind.

They get a lot of money,

but they do not know who will have it when they die.

39:6Verses 4-6: David asks God how long he will stay alive. He says that his life is ‘as wide as my hand.’ A hand is not very wide so this means that his life is not very long. Our lives are so short they seem like the wind blowing for a short time, or a shadow that goes when the sun goes down.

7-8 Now, what do I hope for, Lord?

I am hoping for you to save me from all the bad things that I do!

Do not put me where fools will laugh at me.

9 I will not say anything.

I will not open my mouth, because you have done something!

39:9Verses 7-9: Now David says what he really wants. He wants God to make him safe from the results of the bad things that he did. David thought that one of the results was his illness.

10 Do not hit me again.

Your hand is hurting and destroying me.

11 You speak angrily to people about sin and you punish them.

You make all that is pleasant in them fly away like a moth!

It is true that everyone is like the wind.


12 Lord, hear my prayer.

Listen to me when I cry. Do not be dumb to my tears.

I am an alien to you. I am a stranger, like all my fathers were.

13 Look away from me.

Then I will be happy until I live no more and die.

39:13Verses 10-13: Here David says that God is hitting him, hurting him and destroying him. He means that God is punishing him for his sin. David believes that God is doing this by making him ill. ‘fly away like a moth’ means that for a while you can see it, then it flies away and you cannot see it. ‘do not be dumb’ means ‘speak to me.’ Until God speaks, David will feel that he and God are in different places! ‘my fathers’ means father, grand-father and so on.