Prayer for Relief from a Burden of Guilt.
A psalm of David, to bring to remembrance, to remind God of His great mercy toward poor sinners, the hymn probably being intended for that part of worship when the meat-offering was added to the sacrifice, for its sweet savor was to rise to Jehovah with the prayer of the faithful, V. 1, O Lord, rebuke me not in Thy wrath, although, as David knew, he well deserved it; neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure, with the full rigor of divine justice. V. 2. For Thine arrows stick fast in me, the arrows of God's anger having sunk into his flesh, and Thy hand presseth me sore, in the misfortune or in the dread which was oppressing him. V. 3. There is no soundness in my flesh because of Thine anger, his body being ill in consequence of Jehovah's indignation over his sins; neither is there any rest in my bones, no proper health and peace, because of my sin, the results of which affected both body and mind with their afflictions. V. 4. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head, passing over him like an overwhelming flood; as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me, the burden bearing down upon his conscience exceeding his strength. V. 5. My wounds, the bruises which he, figuratively, bore by reason of his sins, stink and are corrupt, not only having an evil odor, but also running like an open, festering sore, because of my foolishness, this designation being chosen since all sin is folly and self-destruction. V. 6. I am troubled, bent over with the disease of his soul; I am bowed down greatly, as with a sickness which contracts the body in writhing pains; I go mourning all the day long, literally, “squalid,” black with filth, on account of the ashes and the soiled garments indicating his mourning. V. 7. For my loins, usually representing robust strength, are filled with a loathsome disease, full of dry burning, as if gangrene were setting in; and there is no soundness in my flesh, all his former health had left him. V. 8. I am feeble and sore broken, chilled, benumbed, and utterly crushed; I have roared, with loud sighs and cries, by reason of the disquietness of my heart, which caused his lips to groan and moan. V. 9. Lord, all my desire is before Thee, Jehovah knows the longing which the sufferer feels in the midst of his misery; and my groaning is not hid from Thee. David refers to this fact in order to stimulate the mercy of the Lord. V. 10. My heart panteth, palpitating from violent agitation, as if barely surviving the trouble, my strength faileth me; as for the light of mine eyes, the strength of his vision, it also is gone from me, this condition resulting from extreme weakness of the whole body. V. 11. My lovers and my friends, those whose acquaintance and friendship he valued, stand aloof from my sore, on account of the stroke, or plague, which the Lord had laid upon him; and my kinsmen stand afar off, deserting him in this extremity. V. 12. They also that seek after my life lay snares for me, taking this opportunity when he is in trouble to show their spite; and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, planning his destruction, and imagine deceits, meditating upon malicious tricks, all the day long. V. 13. But I, as a deaf man, heard not, he deliberately shut his ears in order not to be provoked to a reply to their insulting speeches; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth, the consciousness of his guilt causing him to keep silence, to despair of ever helping himself, and to trust in Jehovah alone. V. 14. Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs, who does not venture to adduce any counterevidence to justify himself. In this way a believer opens his heart and makes his complaint to the Lord in the midst of the trouble besetting him. V. 15. For in Thee, O Lord, do I hope, as the only one to whom he could safely turn in his great trouble; Thou wilt hear, an emphatic, trustful expectation, O Lord, my God. V. 16. For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me, the honor of the Lord's name demanding that He save His servant, lest the mockery strike Him also; when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me, puffing themselves up and jeering at the simple faith of the believer, whose trust is shattered by his tribulations. V. 17. For I am ready to halt, on the point of falling with lameness, and my sorrow is continually before me, his feeling of guilt serving to keep his misery always before his eyes. V. 18. For I will declare mine iniquity, openly confessing his guilt; I will be sorry for my sin, filled with anxiety on its account. V. 19. But mine enemies, by way of contrast to his dejected state, are lively, full of vitality and vigor, and they are strong; and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied, coming against him in ever-increasing numbers. V. 20. They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries, because I follow the thing that good is, the persecution of the pious on the part of the wicked being the ordinary, the usual thing in the world. But David, and every true believer with him, clings to his faith in Jehovah and in the pardoning mercy promised in the Gospel. V. 21. Forsake me not, O Lord, by giving him up to the will of his enemies or to the misery of utter despair; O my God, be not far from me, ready for his assistance. V. 22. Make haste to help me, O Lord, my Salvation, for in Him alone he could find deliverance from sin and its consequences. Such is the prayer of every believer when he feels the power of sin. And true repentance leads to faith; it despairs of itself, but keeps its trust in the Lord unshaken. And this confidence is not a vain trust.