Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 39:1-13. To Jeduthun (1Ch 16:41, 42), one of the chief singers. His name mentioned, perhaps, as a special honor. Under depressing views of his frailty and the prosperity of the wicked, the Psalmist, tempted to murmur, checks the expression of his feelings, till, led to regard his case aright, he prays for a proper view of his condition and for the divine compassion.
1. I said—or, "resolved."
will take heed—watch.
ways—conduct, of which the use of the tongue is a part (Jas 1:26).
bridle—literally, "muzzle for my mouth" (compare De 25:4).
while … before me—in beholding their prosperity (Ps 37:10, 36).
I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.
2. even from good—(Ge 31:24), everything.
My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,
3. His emotions, as a smothered flame, burst forth.
LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
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."
Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.
5, 6. His prayer is answered in his obtaining an impressive view of the vanity of the life of all men, and their transient state. Their pomp is a mere image, and their wealth is gathered they know not for whom.
Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.
And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.
7. The interrogation makes the implied negative stronger. Though this world offers nothing to our expectation, God is worthy of all confidence.
Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.
8-10. Patiently submissive, he prays for the removal of his chastisement, and that he may not be a reproach.
I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.
Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.
When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.
11. From his own case, he argues to that of all, that the destruction of man's enjoyments is ascribable to sin.
Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.
12, 13. Consonant with the tenor of the Psalm, he prays for God's compassionate regard to him as a stranger here; and that, as such was the condition of his fathers, so, like them, he may be cheered instead of being bound under wrath and chastened in displeasure.
O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.