Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Psalm 39 - Profitable chatisement

David was undergoing an experience of divine chastisement (vv. 10-11). At the same time, he had to listen to various opinions expressed by sinful people, perhaps around him in his court. We are not told what they were suggesting, but their opinions were evidently contrary to God’s will. In verses 1-3, David recounts how he found it difficult to keep silent, yet his awareness of the Lord’s dealings with him personally caused him to remain quiet. Before he could speak to others, he needed to get his relationship with God restored. Otherwise if he spoke, his words could be an outburst, and sinful (as he says in verse 1).

Eventually he did speak, but instead of speaking to the humans in his presence, he found a place where he could speak to God. There he confesses his frailty and shortness of life, acknowledging that he is small in contrast to the almighty and eternal God (vv. 4-5). Whatever humans achieve, it does not bring certainty (v. 6).

David’s only hope is in the Lord, the very one he had sinned against (v. 7). Yet since he knows he can pray for pardon, he also knows he can pray for deliverance from the chastisement his sins had caused. It looks as if the chastisement was causing him embarrassment before others and he was afraid that the unspiritual (the fool) would treat him with contempt.

The psalmist confesses that divine chastisement is not pleasant; instead it is draining (v. 10) because, to some degree, the Lord has withdrawn a sense of his favour. Just as a moth, although a little creature, can destroy a whole fabric, so a little of God’s displeasure can remove all sense of spiritual comfort (v. 11), and no amount of human advice can make up for that loss.

In verses 12 and 13, David pleads with God to restore him. His plea is accompanied with tears, a reminder that a mere intellectual appreciation of one’s circumstances is not enough. God also looks for an emotional response, and he particularly delights in tears of penitence.

The chastisement has achieved its purpose in bringing David to a right assessment of himself – even though a king he is really a sojourner, spending time in this world before he heads away to his real home. Although he knows that God is always with him, he wants that divine presence to be experienced in joyful fellowship and not in divine correction.

No comments:

Post a Comment