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Psalm 39 by Alexander Maclaren

Psalm 39 by Alexander Maclaren

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Published by glennpease
PSALM XXXIX.

1 I said, I will guard my ways, that I sin not with my tongue {
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
PSALM XXXIX.

1 I said, I will guard my ways, that I sin not with my tongue {
I will put a muzzle on my mouth

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Published by: glennpease on Sep 20, 2013
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PSALM 39 BY ALEXADER MACLAREPSALM XXXIX.1 I said, I will guard my ways, that I sin not with my tongue {I will put a muzzle on my mouthSo long as the wicked is before me.2 I made myself dumb in still submission,I kept silence joylessly,And my s rrow was stirred.3 My heart was hot within me ;While I mused the fire blazed up}I spake with my tongue.4 Make me, Jehovah, to know my end,And the measure of my days, what it is;Let me know how fleeting I am.5 Behold, as handbreadths hast Thou made my days,And my lifetime is as nothing before Thee ;Surely nothing but a breath is every man, stand he ever so firm;Selah.6 Surely every man goes about like a shadow ;Surely for a breath do they make [such a stir] ;He heaps up [goods] and knows not who will gather them.7 And now what wait I for, Lord ?My hope — to Thee it goes.8 From all my transgressions deliver me}Make me not a reproach of the fool.9 I make myself dumb, I open not my mouth.
 
For Thou hast done [it].io Remove Thy stroke from me JI am wasted by the assault of Thy hand.II When with rebukes for iniquity Thou correctest a man,Like a moth Thou frayest away his gracefulness;Surely every man is [but] a breath. Selah.VOL. II. XTHE PSALMS12 Hear my prayer, Jehovah, and give ear to my cry;At my weeping be not silent :For I am a guest with Thee,And a sojourner like all my fathers.13 Look away from me, that I may brighten an,Before I go hence and be no more.PROTRACTED suffering, recognised as chastise-ment for sin, had wasted the psalmist's strength.It had been borne for a while in silence, but the rushof emotion had burst the floodgates. The psalm doesnot repeat the words which forced themselves from thehot heart, but preserves for us the calmer flow whichfollowed. It falls into four parts, the first three of which contain three ve-ses each, and the fourth isexpanded into four, divided into two couples.In the first part (vv. 1-3) the frustrated resolve
 
of silence is recorded. Its motive was fear of sinningin speech " while the wicked is before me." Thatphrase is often explained as meaning that the sight of the prosperity of the godless in contrast with his ownsorrows tempted the singer to break out into arraigningGod's providence, and that he schooled himself to look at their insolent ease unmurmuringly. But the psalmhas no other references to other men's flourishingcondition ; and it is more in accordance with its toneto suppose that his own pains, and not their pleasures,prompted to the withheld words. The presence of " the wicked " imposed on his devout heart silence asa duty. We do not complain of a friend's conduct inthe hearing of his enemies. God's servants have towatch their speech about Him when godless ears arelistening, lest hasty words should give occasion formalicious glee or blasphemy. So, for God's honour,the psalmist put restraint on himself. The wordrendered " bridle " in ver. 2 by the A. V. and R. V. isxxxfac] THE PSALMSbetter taken as muzzle, for a muzzle closes the lips, anda bridle does not. The resolution thus energeticallyexpressed was vigorously carried out : " I made myself dumb in still submission ; I kept silence." And whatcame of it ? " My sorrow was stirred." Grief sup-pressed is increased, as all the world knows. Theclosing words of ver. 2 b (lit. apart from good) areobscure, and very variously understood, some regardingthem as an elliptical form of " from good and bad," andexpressing completeness of silence ; others taking " thegood " to mean " the law, 01 the praise of God, orgood-fortune, or such words as would serve to protectthe singer from slanders." " But the preposition hereemployed, when it follows a verb meaning silence,

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