Psalm 39:2
I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.
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(2) Even from good.—This interpretation, while following the LXX., Vulg., and most ancient versions, is suspicious, since the particle, rendered from, is not generally used in this sense after a verb expressing silence. Indeed there is only one instance which at all supports this rendering (1Kings 22:3, margin). Nor does the context require or even admit it. If the bright side of things had been so evident that he could speak of it the Psalmist would not have feared reproach for doing so, nor was there cause for his silence “as to the law,” the rabbinical mode of explaining the passage. The obvious translation makes the clause parallel with that which follows: “I held my peace without profit. My sorrow was increased,” i.e., instead of lessening my grief by silence, I only increased it.

Stirred.—The LXX. and Vulg. “renewed,” which is nearer the meaning than either the Authorised Version or margin.

Psalm 39:2. I was dumb with silence — Or, I was dumb in silence; two words expressing the same thing with greater force. I held my peace even from good — I spake not a word, either good or bad, but remained, like a dumb man, in perfect silence. I refrained even from giving God the glory, with respect to my illness, by acknowledging his greatness and justice, and the nothingness and sinfulness of man. Perhaps the reason why he would not speak at all before his enemies was, because he was unwilling to give them an occasion of triumph, as he thought he should do if he acknowledged his weakness and sin. But he could not bear this restraint long; it became more and more grievous. My sorrow, he says, was stirred — My silence did not assuage my grief, but increased it, as it naturally and commonly does. “There is a time to keep silence,” says Dr. Horne, “because there are men who will not hear; there are tempers, savage and sensual, as those of swine, before whom evangelical pearls, or the treasures of heavenly wisdom, are not to be cast. This consideration stirreth up fresh grief and trouble in a pious and charitable heart.”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.I was dumb with silence - Compare Psalm 38:13. The addition of the words "with silence," means that he was entirely or absolutely mute; he said nothing at all. The idea is, that he did not allow himself to give utterance to the thoughts which were passing in his mind in regard to the divine dealings. He kept his thoughts to himself, and endeavored to suppress them in his own bosom.

I held my peace, even from good - I said nothing. I did not even say what I might have said in vindication of the ways of God. I did not even endeavor to defend the divine character, or to explain the reasons of the divine dealings, or to suggest any considerations which would tend to calm down the feelings of complaint and dissatisfaction which might be rising in the minds of other men as well as my own.

And my sorrow was stirred - The anguish of my mind; my trouble. The word "stirred" here, rendered in the margin "troubled," means that the very fact of attempting to suppress his feelings - the purpose to say nothing in the case - was the means of increased anguish. His trouble on the subject found no vent for itself in words, and at length it became so insupportable that he sought relief by giving utterance to his thoughts, and by coming to God to obtain relief. The state of mind referred to here is that which often occurs when a man broods over his own troubled thoughts, and dwells upon things which are in themselves improper and rebellious. We are under no necessity of endeavoring to vindicate the psalmist in what he here did; nor should we take his conduct in this respect as our example. He evidently himself, on reflection, regarded this as wrong; and recorded it not as a pattern for others, but as a faithful transcript of what was passing at the time through his own mind. Yet, wrong as it was, it was what often occurs even in the minds of good men. Even they, as in the cases referred to above, often have thoughts about God and his dealings which they do not dare to express, and which it would do harm to express. They, therefore, hide them in their own bosom, and often experience just what the psalmist did - increased trouble and perplexity from the very purpose to suppress them. They should go at once to God. They may say to him what it would not be proper to say to men. They may pour out all their feelings before him in prayer, with the hope that in such acts of praying, and in the answers which they will receive to their prayers, they may find relief.

2. even from good—(Ge 31:24), everything. I was dumb with silence; I was so long and so obstinately silent, that I seemed to myself and to others to be dumb. Two words put together expressing the same thing, to aggravate or increase it. Or, I was dumb with quietness, i.e. not out of sullenness, but with submissiveness to God’s dispensations, which is oft noted by silence.

I held my peace, even from good; I forbore to speak what I justly might upon that occasion, lest the flood-gates of speech being once opened, and speech stirring up my passion, I should by degrees break forth into some indecent and sinful expressions, to the dishonour of God, the wounding of mine own conscience, and the offence of others. or this may be a proverbial speech, signifying strict silence; like that Genesis 31:29, speak to him neither good nor bad, i.e. nothing at all, to wit, about that matter, to persuade him to return.

My sorrow was stirred; my silence did not assuage my grief, but increase it, as it naturally and commonly doth. I was dumb with silence,.... Quite silent, as if he had been a dumb man, and could not speak; so he was before men, especially wicked men, and under the afflicting hand of God; see Psalm 39:9; thus he put his resolution into practice;

I held my peace, even from good; that is, he said neither good nor bad: this expresses the greatness of his silence: he did not choose to open his lips, and say anything that was good, lest evil should come out along with it; though this may be considered as carrying the matter too far, even to a criminal silence; saying nothing of the affliction he laboured under as coming from the hand of God, and of his own desert of it; nor praying to God for the removal of it, nor giving him thanks for his divine goodness in supporting him under it, and making it useful to him; though it seems rather to have respect to his silence concerning the goodness of his cause before men; he said not one word in the vindication of himself; but committed his cause to him that judgeth righteously. The Targum and Jarchi interpret it of his silence and cessation "from the words of the law": he said nothing concerning the good word of God; which sense, could it be admitted, the words in Jeremiah 20:9; might be compared with these and the following;

and my sorrow was stirred; this was the issue and effect of his silence; his sorrow being pent up, and not let out and eased by words, swelled and increased the more; or the sorrow of his heart was stirred up at the insults and reproaches of his enemies, as Paul's spirit was stirred up by the superstition and idolatry of the city of Athens, Acts 17:16.

I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; {c} and my sorrow was stirred.

(c) Though when the wicked ruled he thought to have kept silence, yet his zeal caused him to change his mind.

2. silence] The word carries with it the idea of mute submission. Cp. Psalm 62:1; Psalm 37:7; Lamentations 3:26.

even from good] I kept absolute silence, speaking neither good nor bad (Genesis 31:24). Less probably as R.V. marg., and had no comfort.

my sorrow was stirred] The effort to suppress his feelings only aggravated the pain. Cp. Psalm 32:3. So Ovid, Trist. v. 1. 63, ‘Strangulat inclusus dolor atque exaestuat intus.’Verse 2. - I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good. Some explain, "I held my peace, but it did me no good - I was none the better for it" (Hupfeld, Hengstenberg, Canon Cook); others adopt the Prayer-book Version, I kept silence even from good words" (Kay, Alexander, Revised Version). And my sorrow was stirred. The pain at my heart was not quieted thereby, nor even lessened; rather, it was roused up, quickened, and aggravated. This is the natural result of repressing any strong feeling. (Heb.: 38:16-23) Become utterly useless in himself, he renounces all self-help, for (כּי) he hopes in Jahve, who alone can help him. He waits for His answer, for (כי) he says, etc. - he waits for an answer, for the hearing of this his petition which is directed towards the glory of God, that God would not suffer his foes to triumph over him, nor strengthen them in their mercilessness and injustice. Psalm 38:18 appears also to stand under the government of the פּן;

(Note: The following are the constructions of פן when a clause of ore than one member follows it: (1) fut. and perf., the latter with the tone of the perf. consec., e.g., Exodus 34:15., or without it, e.g., Psalm 28:1 (which see); (2) fut. and fut. as in Psalm 2:12, Jeremiah 51:46. This construction is indispensable where it is intended to give special prominence to the subject notion or a secondary notion of the clause, e.g., Deuteronomy 20:6. In one instance פן is even followed (3) by the perf. and fut. consec., viz., 2 Kings 2:10.)

but, since in this case one would look for a Waw relat. and a different order of the words, Psalm 38:18 is to be regarded as a subject clause: "who, when my foot totters, i.e., when my affliction changes to entire downfall, would magnify themselves against me." In Psalm 38:18, כּי connects what follows with בּמוט רגלי by way of confirmation: he is נכון לצלע, ready for falling (Psalm 35:15), he will, if God does not graciously interpose, assuredly fall headlong. The fourth כּי in Psalm 38:19 is attached confirmatorily to Psalm 38:18: his intense pain or sorrow is ever present to him, for he is obliged to confess his guilt, and this feeling of guilt is just the very sting of his pain. And whilst he in the consciousness of well-deserved punishment is sick unto death, his foes are numerous and withal vigorous and full of life. Instead of חיּים, probably חנּם, as in Psalm 35:19; Psalm 69:5, is to be read (Houbigant, Hitzig, Kster, Hupfeld, Ewald, and Olshausen). But even the lxx read חיים; and the reading which is so old, although it does not very well suit עצמוּ (instead of which one would look for ועצוּמים), is still not without meaning: he looks upon himself, according to Psalm 38:9, more as one dead than living; his foes, however, are חיּים, living, i.e., vigorous. The verb frequently ash this pregnant meaning, and the adjective can also have it. Just as the accentuation of the form סבּוּ varies elsewhere out of pause, ורבּוּ here has the tone on the ultima, although it is not perf. consec.

(Note: As perf. consec. the following have the accent on the ultima: - וחתּוּ, Isaiah 20:5, Obadiah 1:9, and ורבּוּ, Isaiah 66:16; perhaps also וחדּוּ, וקלּוּ, Habakkuk 1:8, and ורבּוּ (perf. hypoth.), Job 32:15. But there is no special reason for the ultima-accentuation of רכּוּ, Psalm 55:22; רבּוּ, Psalm 69:5; דּלּוּ, Isaiah 38:14; קלּוּ, Jeremiah 4:13; שׁחוּ, Proverbs 14:19; Habakkuk 3:6; חתּוּ, Job 32:15; זכּוּ, צחוּ, Lamentations 4:7.)

Psalm 38:21 is an apposition of the subject, which remains the same as in Psalm 38:20. Instead of רדופי (Ges. 61, rem. 2) the Ker is רדפי, rādephî (without any Makkeph following), or רדפי, rādophî; cf. on this pronunciation, Psalm 86:2; Psalm 16:1, and with the Chethb רדופי, the Chethb צרופה, Psalm 26:2, also מיורדי, Psalm 30:4. By the "following of that which is good" David means more particularly that which is brought into exercise in relation to his present foes.

(Note: In the Greek and Latin texts, likewise in all the Aethiopic and several Arabic texts, and in the Syriac Psalterium Medilanense, the following addition is found after Psalm 38:21 : Ce aperripsan me ton agapeton osi necron ebdelygmenon, Et projecerunt me dilectum tanquam mortuum abominatum (so the Psalt. Veronense). Theodoret refers it to Absalom's relation to David. The words ὡσεὶ νεκρὸν ἐβδελυγμένον are taken from Isaiah 14:19.)

He closes in Psalm 38:22 with sighs for help. No lighting up of the darkness of wrath takes place. The fides supplex is not changed into fides triumphans. But the closing words, "O Lord, my salvation" (cf. Psalm 51:16), show where the repentance of Cain and that of David differ. True repentance has faith within itself, it despairs of itself, but not of God.

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