Psalm 39:13
O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.
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(13) Recover strength.—Better, Let me become cheerful, i.e., look up with a glad look once more on my face, as the angry look fades from the Divine countenance.

Before.—Literally, before I go, and am not. All the words and phrases of this last verse occur in the Book of Job. (See Job 7:8; Job 7:19; Job 7:21; Job 14:6; Job 10:20-21.)

Psalm 39:13. O spare me — Hebrew, השׁע ממני, hashang, memenni — Desiste a me, desist, or cease from me, that is, from afflicting me: do not destroy me; my life at best is short, and full of trouble, and thou knowest sufficient for it is the evil thereof: do not add affliction to the afflicted. That I may recover strength — Both in my outward and inward man, both which are much weakened and oppressed. Hebrew, אבליגה, abligah, recreabo me, that I may refresh myself or may be refreshed, or comforted, namely, eased of the burden of my sins, and of thy terrors consequent upon them; and better prepared for a comfortable and happy dissolution. Before I go hence — Unto the grave, as this phrase is often used; or the way of all the earth, Joshua 23:14; or whence I shall not return, as it is, Job 10:21. And be no more — Namely, among the living, or in this world.

39:7-13 There is no solid satisfaction to be had in the creature; but it is to be found in the Lord, and in communion with him; to him we should be driven by our disappointments. If the world be nothing but vanity, may God deliver us from having or seeking our portion in it. When creature-confidences fail, it is our comfort that we have a God to go to, a God to trust in. We may see a good God doing all, and ordering all events concerning us; and a good man, for that reason, says nothing against it. He desires the pardoning of his sin, and the preventing of his shame. We must both watch and pray against sin. When under the correcting hand of the Lord, we must look to God himself for relief, not to any other. Our ways and our doings bring us into trouble, and we are beaten with a rod of our own making. What a poor thing is beauty! and what fools are those that are proud of it, when it will certainly, and may quickly, be consumed! The body of man is as a garment to the soul. In this garment sin has lodged a moth, which wears away, first the beauty, then the strength, and finally the substance of its parts. Whoever has watched the progress of a lingering distemper, or the work of time alone, in the human frame, will feel at once the force of this comparison, and that, surely every man is vanity. Afflictions are sent to stir up prayer. If they have that effect, we may hope that God will hear our prayer. The believer expects weariness and ill treatment on his way to heaven; but he shall not stay here long : walking with God by faith, he goes forward on his journey, not diverted from his course, nor cast down by the difficulties he meets. How blessed it is to sit loose from things here below, that while going home to our Father's house, we may use the world as not abusing it! May we always look for that city, whose Builder and Maker is God.O spare me - The word used here - from שׁעה shâ‛âh - means "to look;" and then, in connection with the preposition, "to look away from;" and it here means, "Look away from me;" that is, Do not come to inflict death on me. Preserve me. The idea is this: God seemed to have fixed his eyes on him, and to be pursuing him with the expressions of his displeasure (compare Job 16:9); and the psalmist now prays that he would "turn away his eyes," and leave him.

That I may recover strength - The word used here - בלג bâlag - means, in Arabic, to be bright; to shine forth; and then, to make cheerful, to enliven one's countenance, or to be joyful, glad. In Job 9:27, it is rendered "comfort;" in Job 10:20, that I "may take comfort;" in Amos 5:9, "strengtheneth." It is not used elsewhere. The idea is that of being "cheered up;" of being strengthened and invigorated before he should pass away. He wished to be permitted to recover the strength which he had lost, and especially to receive consolation, before he should leave the earth. He desired that his closing days might not be under a cloud, but that he might obtain brighter and more cheerful views, and have more of the consolations of religion before he should be removed finally from this world. It is a wish not to leave the world in gloom, or with gloomy and desponding views, but with a cheerful view of the past; with joyful confidence in the government of God; and with bright anticipations of the coming world.

Before I go hence - Before Idie.

And be no more - Be no more upon the earth. Compare Psalm 6:5, note; Psalm 30:9, note. See also the notes at Job 14:1-12. Whatever may have been his views of the future world, he desired to be cheered and comforted in the prospect of passing away finally from earth. He was unwilling to go down to the grave in gloom, or under the influence of the dark and distressing views which he had experienced, and to which he refers in this psalm. A religious man, about to leave the world, should desire to have bright hopes and anticipations. For his own comfort and peace, for the honor of religion, for the glory of God, he should not leave those around under the impression that religion does nothing to comfort a dying man, or to inspire with hope the mind of one about to leave the earth, or to give to the departing friend of God cheerful anticipations of the life to come. A joyful confidence in God and his government, when a man is about to leave the world, does much, very much, to impress the minds of others with a conviction of the truth and reality of religion, as dark and gloomy views can hardly fail to lead the world to ask what that religion is worth which will not inspire a dying man with hope, and make him calm in the closing scene.

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. Spare me; or, cease from me, i.e. from afflicting me; do not destroy me. My life at best is but short and miserable, as I have said, and thou knowest; sufficient for it is the evil thereof: do not add affliction to the afflicted.

That I may recover strength, both in my outward and inward man, both which are much weakened and oppressed. Or, that I may be refreshed, or comforted, eased of the burden of my sins, and thy terrors consequent upon them, and better prepared for a comfortable and happy dissolution.

Before I go hence, Heb. before I go, to wit, unto the grave, as this phrase is used, Genesis 15:2 25:32; or the way of all the earth, as the phrase is completed, Joshua 23:14; or whence I shall not return, as it is Job 10:21; or, which is all one, into that place and state in which I shall not be, to wit, amongst the living, or in this world, as this phrase is frequently used, both in Scripture, as Genesis 5:24 37:30 42:36, and in heathen authors; of which see my Latin Synopsis.

O spare me,.... Or "look from me" (f); turn away thy fierce countenance from me; or "cease from me (g), and let me alone"; as in Job 10:20; from whence the words seem to be taken, by what follows:

that I may recover strength; both corporeal and spiritual:

before I go hence; out of this world by death:

and be no more; that is, among men in the land of the living; not but that he believed he should exist after death, and should be somewhere, even in heaven, though he should return no more to the place where he was; see Job 10:20, when a man is born, he comes into the world; when he dies, he goes out of it; a phrase frequently used for death in Scripture; so the ancient Heathens called death "abitio", a going away (h).

(f) "respice aliorsum a me", Gejerus; "averte visum a me", Michaelis. (g) "Desine a me", Pagninus; "desiste a me", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; "cessa a me", Vatablus. (h) Fest. Pomp. apud Schindler. Lexic. col. 440.

O spare me, that I may recover strength, {k} before I go hence, and be no more.

(k) For his sorrow caused him to think that God would destroy him completely, by which we see how hard it is for the saints to keep a measure in their words, when death and despair assails them.

13. O spare me] So Jerome, parce mihi. But more exactly, Look away from me. Cheyne renders, ‘avert thy frown.’

that I may recover strength] Lit. brighten up, as the sky when the clouds clear.

Parallels for every phrase in the verse are to be found in Job. See Job 7:19; Job 14:6; Job 10:20-21; Job 7:8 (R.V.).

It is, as Delitzsch remarks, the heroic character of Old Testament faith, that in the midst of the enigmas of life, and in full view of the deep gloom enshrouding the future, it throws itself unconditionally into the arms of God.

Verse 13. - O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more. The Psalmist, no longer anxious for death, but still expecting it, requests of God, in conclusion, a breathing-space, a short time of refreshment and rest, before he is called on to leave the earth and "be no more ;" i.e. bring his present state of existence to an end. Nothing is to be gathered from the expression used as to his expectation or non-expectation of a future life.

Psalm 39:13(Heb.: 39:13-14) Finally, the poet renews the prayer for an alleviation of his sufferings, basing it upon the shortness of the earthly pilgrimage. The urgent שׁמעה is here fuller toned, being שׁמעה.

(Note: So Heidenheim and Baer, following Abulwald, Efodi, and Mose ha-Nakdan. The Masoretic observation לית קמץ חטף, "only here with Kametzchateph," is found appended in codices. This Chatephkametz is euphonic, as in לקחה, Genesis 2:23, and in many other instances that are obliterated in our editions, vid., Abulwald, חרקמה ס, p. 198, where even מטּהרו equals מטּהרו, Psalm 89:45, is cited among these examples (Ges. 10, 2rem.).)

Side by side with the language of prayer, tears even appear here as prayer that is intelligible to God; for when the gates of prayer seem to be closed, the gates of tears still remain unclosed (שׁערי דמעות לא ננעלו), B. Berachoth 32b. As a reason for his being heard, David appeals to the instability and finite character of this earthly life in language which we also hear from his own lips in 1 Chronicles 29:15. גּר is the stranger who travels about and sojourns as a guest in a country that is not his native land; תּושׁב is a sojourner, or one enjoying the protection of the laws, who, without possessing any hereditary title, has settled down there, and to whom a settlement is allotted by sufferance. The earth is God's; that which may be said of the Holy Land (Leviticus 25:23) may be said of the whole earth; man has no right upon it, he only remains there so long as God permits him. כּכל־אבותי glances back even to the patriarchs (Genesis 47:9, cf. Psalm 23:4). Israel is, it is true, at the present time in possession of a fixed dwelling-place, but only as the gift of his God, and for each individual it is only during his life, which is but a handbreadth long. May Jahve, then - so David prays - turn away His look of wrath from him, in order that he may shine forth, become cheerful or clear up, before he goes hence and it is too late. השׁע is imper. apoc. Hiph. for השׁעה (in the signification of Kal), and ought, according to the form הרב, properly to be השׁע; it is, however, pointed just like the imper. Hiph. of שׁעע in Isaiah 6:10, without any necessity for explaining it as meaning obline (oculos tuos) equals connive (Abulwald), which would be an expression unworthy of God. It is on the contrary to be rendered: look away from me; on which compare Job 7:19; Job 14:6; on אבליגה cf. ib. Job 10:20; Job 9:27; on אלך בּטרם, ib.Job 10:21; on ואיננּי, ib. Job 7:8, Job 7:21. The close of the Psalm, consequently, is re-echoed in many ways in the Book of Job The Book of Job is occupied with the same riddle as that with which this Psalm is occupied. But in the solution of it, it advances a step further. David does not know how to disassociate in his mind sin and suffering, and wrath and suffering. The Book of Job, on the contrary, thinks of suffering and love together; and in the truth that suffering also, even though it be unto death, must serve the highest interests of those who love God, it possesses a satisfactory solution.

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