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Psalms 39:1-4

Context
Psalm 39 1 

For the music director, Jeduthun; a psalm of David.

39:1 I decided, 2  “I will watch what I say

and make sure I do not sin with my tongue. 3 

I will put a muzzle over my mouth

while in the presence of an evil man.” 4 

39:2 I was stone silent; 5 

I held back the urge to speak. 6 

My frustration grew; 7 

39:3 my anxiety intensified. 8 

As I thought about it, I became impatient. 9 

Finally I spoke these words: 10 

39:4 “O Lord, help me understand my mortality

and the brevity of life! 11 

Let me realize how quickly my life will pass! 12 

1 sn Psalm 39. The psalmist laments his frailty and mortality as he begs the Lord to take pity on him and remove his disciplinary hand.

2 tn Heb “I said.”

3 tn Heb “I will watch my ways, from sinning with my tongue.”

4 sn The psalmist wanted to voice a lament to the Lord (see vv. 4-6), but he hesitated to do so in the presence of evil men, for such words might be sinful if they gave the wicked an occasion to insult God. See C. A. Briggs and E. G. Briggs, Psalms (ICC), 1:345.

5 tn Heb “I was mute [with] silence.”

6 tn Heb “I was quiet from good.” He kept quiet, resisting the urge to find emotional release and satisfaction by voicing his lament.

sn I held back the urge to speak. For a helpful discussion of the relationship (and tension) between silence and complaint in ancient Israelite lamentation, see E. S. Gerstenberger, Psalms, Part I (FOTL), 166-67.

7 tn Heb “and my pain was stirred up.” Emotional pain is in view here.

8 tn Heb “my heart was hot within me.”

9 tn Heb “In my reflection fire burned.” The prefixed verbal form is either a preterite (past tense) or an imperfect being used in a past progressive or customary sense (“fire was burning”).

10 tn Heb “I spoke with my tongue.” The phrase “these words” is supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.

11 tn Heb “Cause me to know, O Lord, my end; and the measure of my days, what it is!”

12 tn Heb “Let me know how transient I am!”



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