Psalm 38
James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance. O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
Psalms 38:1-51:19

Psalms 38

An appeal to God from chastisement because of iniquity (Psalm 38:1-4). The mental anguish is described in figures of physical disease, and yet it is not impossible that such disease may have been part of the chastisement (Psalm 38:5-8).

The desertion of friends and the opposition of enemies also entered into it (Psalm 38:10-17). There are verses susceptible of an application to Christ, but others would prevent its application as a whole to him.

Psalms 40

Messianic (compare Hebrews 10:5 ff.). To quote the Scofield Bible: “It opens with the joy of Christ in resurrection (Psalm 40:1-2). Psalm 40:3-5 give his resurrection testimony. The others are retrospective.” “Mine iniquities” (Psalm 40:12) may mean “penal afflictions.” This meaning is common (Psalm 31:11; Psalm 38:4; compare Genesis 4:13; Genesis 19:15; 1 Samuel 28:10; also 2 Samuel 16:12; Job 19:29; and Isaiah 5:18; Isaiah 53:11). It is also favored by the clause “taken hold of me,” which can be said appropriately of sufferings, but not of sins (compare Job 27:20; Psalm 69:24). Thus, difficulties in referring this psalm to Christ are removed.

The language of verses 14-15 is not imprecatory, but a confident expectation (Psalm 5:11), though the former sense is not inconsistent with Christ’s prayer for His murderers, as their confusion and shame might be to prepare them for seeking forgiveness (compare Acts 2:37).

Psalms 41

Closes Book 1 of the Psalms (see introductory lesson). It celebrates the blessedness of having compassion upon the poor (Psalm 40:1-3) which the psalmist contrasts with the treatment he received both from avowed enemies and professed friends.

Psalms 42-43

The rhythm of Hebrew poetry is not in the sound but in the recurrence of the thought. Thought may be rhythmic as well as sound, and the full meaning of Scripture is not grasped by one who does not feel how thoughts can be emphasized by being restated differently. In this we see the wisdom of God as applied to the Scripture, for the poetry of the Bible can be translated into any tongue without serious loss to the thought, while of other poetry, depending as it does on the sound, this cannot be said. The first of the two psalms expresses the feelings of an exile from the altar of his God. The spirit of the whole lyric is summed up in its refrain, a struggle between hope and despair:

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God:

For I shall yet praise Him, Who is the health of my countenance And my God!

This refrain is found to unify into a single poem Psalms 42, 43; and the whole falls into “three strophes.” Instead of “three strophes and a refrain,” substitute “three verses and a chorus,” and we have a more popular idea of the poetical form of the two psalms.

Psalms 44

The section of psalms now entered upon introduces “The Sons of Korah,” but whether they were written by them, or for them, as a class of the Levitical singers, is difficult to say. The present psalm was penned with reference to a national calamity, just when, or what, is not known. But the psalmist recounts past deliverances in such crises as a ground of confidence and hope now.

Psalms 45-46

Is Messianic, for the proof of which, see the marginal references to the New Testament. The divisions are: The beauty of the King (Psalm 45:1-2); His coming in glory (Psalm 45:4-5); His Deity and the character of His reign (Psalm 45:6-7); the Church as associated with Him in His earthly reign (Psalm 45:9-13); Her virgin companions (the Jewish remnant?) (Psalm 45:14-15); the whole concluding with an allusion to His earthly fame (Psalm 45:16-17).

The Scofield Bible thinks this psalm might be classed with the two following, as all three look “forward to the advent in glory.” The same might be said of all down to and including Psalms 50, with the possible exception of Psalms 49.

To speak of Psalms 46 particularly: Israel is seen in great trouble but firmly trusting in God (Psalm 46:1-5). The cause is the gathering of the nations against her (Psalm 46:6). But God is with her and overcomes the nations, visiting them with judgment (Psalm 46:7-8). Following these judgments there is peace over all the earth (Psalm 46:9-11). This is clearly millennial in its ultimate application.

Psalms 47

Is of the same character. Psalms 52 also can hardly be read by anyone familiar with the later revelations of the Bible concerning the Antichrist without thinking of that arch-despot. He is overcome by the Lord (Psalm 47:5), and exalted over by the righteous (Psalm 47:6-7), whose trust in the mercy of God has not been in vain (Psalm 47:8-9).

Psalms 51

Historical, and grounded on the sad event in David’s life dwelt upon in 2 Samuel. The ScofieId Bible characterizes it in its successive steps as “The mould of the experience of a sinning saint, who comes back to full communion and service:” (1) Sin is judged before God, Psalm 51:1-6; (2) forgiveness and cleansing are secured through the blood, Psalm 51:7-19; and (3) the restored one is now filled with the Holy Spirit for joy, power, service and worship, Psalm 51:11-17; and is at last seen in fellowship with God, not about self, but Zion (Psalm 51:18-19). Personally, while it was David’s pathway to restored communion, dispensationally, it will be that of returning Israel at the end of the age (Deuteronomy 30:1-10).

The other psalms in this lesson give their historical setting in their titles, and the student of those preceding will interpret them with little difficulty.


1. What verses of Psalms 38 would seem to prevent its Messianic application?

2. What Messianic psalms are noted in this lesson?

3. In what does the rhythm of Hebrew poetry consist?

4. What advantage does this give the poetry of Scripture?

5. Repeat the “chorus” of Psalms 42, 43.

6. Which psalms of this lesson look forward to the millennial age?

7. On what historical event is Psalms 51 grounded?

8. What dispensational application is possible in its case?

James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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