Psalm 38:1
A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance. O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
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(1) O Lord, rebuke.—See Note, Psalm 6:1, of which verse this is almost a repetition.

Psalm 38:1-2. Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure — I confess that I both deserve chastisement and need it, and therefore I do not desire that thou shouldest entirely remove it, but only moderate it: see Psalm 6:1. For thine arrows — Thy judgments inflicted on my outward and inward man; stick fast in me — Have entered deep into me, as נחיו בי, nichathu bi, is properly rendered; and thy hand presseth me sore — תנחת עלי, tinchath gnali, is come down upon me; as when a strong man lifts up his hand and weapon, that it may fall down with the greater violence, and make a deeper wound.

38:1-11 Nothing will disquiet the heart of a good man so much as the sense of God's anger. The way to keep the heart quiet, is to keep ourselves in the love of God. But a sense of guilt is too heavy to bear; and would sink men into despair and ruin, unless removed by the pardoning mercy of God. If there were not sin in our souls, there would be no pain in our bones, no illness in our bodies. The guilt of sin is a burden to the whole creation, which groans under it. It will be a burden to the sinners themselves, when they are heavy-laden under it, or a burden of ruin, when it sinks them to hell. When we perceive our true condition, the Good Physician will be valued, sought, and obeyed. Yet many let their wounds rankle, because they delay to go to their merciful Friend. When, at any time, we are distempered in our bodies, we ought to remember how God has been dishonoured in and by our bodies. The groanings which cannot be uttered, are not hid from Him that searches the heart, and knows the mind of the Spirit. David, in his troubles, was a type of Christ in his agonies, of Christ on his cross, suffering and deserted.O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath - See the notes at Psalm 6:1, where the same language occurs, except in the change of a single Hebrew "word," that is, "wrath," though expressing the same idea.

Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure - See the notes at Psalm 6:1. The Hebrew in both is the same, except that in this place the negative particle is omitted, but without affecting the sense. It is not improbable that the one was copied from the other, or that this was composed with the language of the former in the memory. Thus we often use language with which we are familiar, as being well adapted to express our ideas.


Ps 38:1-22. To bring to remembrance, or, remind God of His mercy and himself of his sin. Appealing to God for relief from His heavy chastisement, the Psalmist avows his integrity before men, complains of the defection of friends and persecution of enemies, and in a submissive spirit, casting himself on God, with penitent confession he pleads God's covenant relation and his innocence of the charges of his enemies, and prays for divine comfort and help.

1-4. He deprecates deserved punishment, which is described (Ps 6:1), under the figure of bodily disease [Ps 38:3].

1 O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath; neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

"O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath." Rebuked I must be, for I am an erring child and thou a careful Father, but throw not too much anger into the tones of thy voice; deal gently although I have sinned grievously. The anger of others I can bear, but not thine. As thy love is most sweet to my heart, so thy displeasure is most cutting to my conscience. "Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure." Chasten me if thou wilt, it is a Father's prerogative, and to endure it obediently is a child's duty; but, O turn not the rod into a sword, smite not so as to kill. True, my sins might well inflame thee, but let thy mercy and long-suffering quench the glowing coals of thy wrath. O let me not be treated as an enemy or dealt with as a rebel. Bring to remembrance thy covenant, thy fatherhood, and my feebleness, and spare thy servant. THE ARGUMENT

This is reckoned one of David’s penitential Psalms. It was composed upon occasion of some sore disease, or grievous calamity; which he rightly judged to be inflicted upon him for his sins.


1. To God, that by this humble and mournful prayer he might prevail with God to remember and pity him; for now he seemed quite to have forgotten him. Or,

2. To himself, that by reviewing this Psalm afterwards he might call to mind his former danger and misery, and God’s wonderful mercy in delivering him from them; which we are very apt to forget; and that others also might remember and consider what God had done to him, first in chastening, and then in restoring him, and might make use of his example for their benefit.

David, being visited with sickness, rehearseth his woeful condition, Psalm 38:1-3, by reason of his sins, Psalm 38:4-8; prayeth for forgiveness, help, and favour, Psalm 38:9,10. He lays before God the unfaithfuless of his friends, Psalm 38:11-18, and the cruelty of his enemies, Psalm 38:19-22.

I confess I both deserve chastisement and need it, and therefore I desire not that thou wouldst remove it, but only moderate it. See the same expression Psalm 6:1.

O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure,.... This and the following clause are the same as in Psalm 6:1, only instead of wrath there it is anger; See Gill on Psalm 6:1. <{a} remembrance.>> O LORD, rebuke me not in thy {b} wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

(a) To put himself and others in mind of God's chastisement for sin.

(b) He desires not to be exempted from God's rod, but that he would so moderate his hand, that he might be able to bear it.

1. In words almost identical with Psalm 6:1 the Psalmist deprecates the severity of a chastisement which seems to proceed from an angry Judge rather than from a loving Father. The emphasis is on in thy wrath … in thy hot displeasure. Cp. Jeremiah 10:24. For similar expressions of a sense of guilt under suffering, see Psalm 25:18; Psalm 31:10; Psalm 39:10 ff.; Psalm 40:12.

1–8. The chastisement of sin.

Verse 1. - O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath (comp. Psalm 6:1, where the first of the penitential psalms begins similarly). The prayer is for the cessation of God's wrath, rather than of the "rebuke" which has resulted from it. Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure (see the comment on Psalm 6:1). Psalm 38:1(Heb.: 38:2-9) David begins, as in Psalm 6:1-10, with the prayer that his punitive affliction may be changed into disciplinary. Bakius correctly paraphrases. Psalm 38:2 : Corripe sane per legem, castiga per crucem, millies promerui, negare non possum, sed castiga, quaeso, me ex amore ut pater, non ex furore et fervore ut judex; ne punias justitiae rigore, sed misericordiae dulcore (cf. on Psalm 6:2). The negative is to be repeated in Psalm 38:2, as in Psalm 1:5; Psalm 9:19; Psalm 75:6. In the description, which give the ground of the cry for pity, נחת, is not the Piel, as in Psalm 18:35, but the Niphal of the Kal נחת immediately following (root נח). קצף is anger as a breaking forth, fragor (cf. Hosea 10:7, lxx φρύγανον), with ĕ instead of ı̆ in the first syllable, vowels which alternate in this word; and חמה, as a glowing or burning. חצּים (in Homer, κῆλα), God's wrath-arrows, i.e., lightnings of wrath, are His judgments of wrath; and יד, as in Psalm 32:4; Psalm 39:11, God's punishing hand, which makes itself felt in dispensing punishment, hence תּנחת might be attached as a mood of sequence. In Psalm 38:4 wrath is called זעם as a boiling up. Sin is the cause of this experiencing wrath, and the wrath is the cause of the bodily derangement; sin as an exciting cause of the wrath always manifests itself outwardly even on the body as a fatal power. In Psalm 38:5 sin is compared to waters that threaten to drown one, as in Psalm 38:5 to a burden that presses one down. ככבּדוּ ממּנּי, they are heavier than I, i.e., than my power of endurance, too heavy for me. In Psalm 38:6 the effects of the operation of the divine hand (as punishing) are wounds, חבּוּרת (properly, suffused variegated marks from a blow or wheals, Isaiah 1:6; from חבר, Arab. ḥbr, to be or make striped, variegated), which הבאישׁוּ, send forth an offensive smell, and נמקּוּ, suppurate. Sin, which causes this, is called אוּלת, because, as it is at last manifest, it is always the destruction of itself. With emphasis does מפּני אוּלתּי form the second half of the verse. To take נעויתי out of Psalm 38:7 and put it to this, as Meier and Thenius propose, is to destroy this its proper position. On the three מפּני, vid., Ewald, 217, l. Thus sick in soul and body, he is obliged to bow and bend himself in the extreme. נעוה is used of a convulsive drawing together of the body, Isaiah 21:3; שׁחח, of a bowed mien, Psalm 35:14; הלּך, of a heavy, lagging gait. With כּי in Psalm 38:8 the grounding of the petition begins for the third time. His כּסלים, i.e., internal muscles of the loins, which are usually the fattest parts, are full of נקלה, that which is burnt, i.e., parched. It is therefore as though the burning, starting from the central point of the bodily power, would spread itself over the whole body: the wrath of God works commotion in this latter as well as in the soul. Whilst all the energies of life thus yield, there comes over him a partial, almost total lifelessness. פּוּג is the proper word for the coldness and rigidity of a corpse; the Niphal means to be brought into this condition, just as נדכּא means to be crushed, or to be brought into a condition of crushing, i.e., of violent dissolution. The מן of מנּהמת is intended to imply that the loud wail is only the utterance of the pain that is raging in his heart, the outward expression of his ceaseless, deep inward groaning.
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