|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
39:1-6 If an evil thought should arise in the mind, suppress it. Watchfulness in the habit, is the bridle upon the head; watchfulness in acts, is the hand upon the bridle. When not able to separate from wicked men, we should remember they will watch our words, and turn them, if they can, to our disadvantage. Sometimes it may be necessary to keep silence, even from good words; but in general we are wrong when backward to engage in edifying discourse. Impatience is a sin that has its cause within ourselves, and that is, musing; and its ill effects upon ourselves, and that is no less than burning. In our greatest health and prosperity, every man is altogether vanity, he cannot live long; he may die soon. This is an undoubted truth, but we are very unwilling to believe it. Therefore let us pray that God would enlighten our minds by his Holy Spirit, and fill our hearts with his grace, that we may be ready for death every day and hour.
Verse 4. - Lord, make me to know mine end, and the number of my days. This is not exactly the request of Job, who desired to be at once cut off (Job 6:9; Job 7:15; Job 14:13), but it is a request conceived in the same spirit. The psalmist is weary of life, expects nothing from it, feels that it is "altogether vanity." He asks, therefore, not exactly for death, but that it may be told him how long he will have to endure the wretched life that he is leading. He anticipates no relief except in death, and feels, at any rate for the time, that he would welcome death as a deliverer. That I may know how frail I am. So most moderns; but Hengstenberg denies that חדל can ever mean "frail," and falls back upon the old rendering, "that I may know when I shall cease [to be]," which certainly gives a very good sense.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Lord, make me to know mine end,.... Not Christ, the end of the law for righteousness, as Jerom interprets it; nor how long he should live, how many days, months, and years more; for though they are known of God, they are not to be known by men; but either the end of his afflictions, or his, latter end, his mortal state, that he might be more thoughtful of that, and so less concerned about worldly things, his own external happiness, or that of others; or rather his death; see Job 6:11; and his sense is, that he might know death experimentally; or that he might die: this he said in a sinful passionate way, as impatient of his afflictions and exercises; and in the same way the following expressions are to be understood;
and the measure of my days, what it is; being desirous to come to the end of it; otherwise he knew it was but as an hand's breadth, as he says in Psalm 39:5;
that I may know how frail I am; or "what time I have here"; or "when I shall cease to be" (u); or, as the Targum is, "when I shall cease from the world"; so common it is for the saints themselves, in an angry or impatient fit, to desire death; see Job 7:15; and a very rare and difficult thing it is to wish for it from right principles, and with right views, as the Apostle Paul did, Philippians 1:23.
(u) "quanti aevi ego", Montanus; "quamdiu roundanus ero", Vatablus; "quam brevis temporis sim", Musculus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4-7. Some take these words as those of fretting, but they are not essentially such. The tinge of discontent arises from the character of his suppressed emotions. But, addressing God, they are softened and subdued.
make me to know mine end—experimentally appreciate.
how frail I am—literally, "when I shall cease."
Psalm 39:4 Parallel Commentaries
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