September 14, 2022 Southshore Bible Church

Psalm 39

Psalm 39

This question must inevitably arise: What is the Christian's response when he or she follows God's commandments but his or her suffering still increases?


Psalm 39 of David points to an answer for this question. Beginning in verse 1, David recounts a prior commitment to remain silent so that in his speech he would not sin against both, his unnamed persecutor and God. Yet, despite keeping this commitment, David's situation only became worse resulting in his anger.


David's responding outburst is characterized by his pleading with God to reveal the length of his suffering. As its basis, David appeals to God's sovereignty and humanity's momentary existence. In a manner of speaking, David is pleading that this suffering not summarize the entirety of his life.


Coming to verse 7, we arrive at this psalm's turning point as David's question, "O Lord, for what do I wait?" demonstrates David's continued faithfulness to God. This faithfulness continues as David's recognizes his own sin and identifies God as the cause of his suffering. This recognition is significant because up until this point David has endeavored to remain innocent. So when David makes this recognition it is not necessarily about his present situation, but instead refers to his overall sinfulness and need for a saviour. As a result, David recognizes God's sovereignty and accepts that he does not see the entirety of the situation.


Despite David's emotions resulting from his suffering at the hand of God, he uses a literary device to demonstrate his faithfulness. This literary device is David's use of personalized bodily language: 1. "Hear my prayer" (v.12), 2. "Give ear to my cry" (v.12), 3. "Hold not your peace" (v.12), 4. "Look away from me" (v.13). This usage of language demonstrates that David whole-heartedly believes in a God whom enters his crises even though he remains upset with God's inaction. This ending note further demonstrates that David's situation has not changed, he continues waiting for God's answer but expresses faith regardless of his situation and his emotions.


Patient faithfulness is difficult yet the Bible is full of examples demonstrating this kind of faithfulness. From Joseph's time in prison to Israel's remnant consistently awaiting the Messiah, examples abound. It is important to consider this psalm in a similar light to these examples because it demonstrates David's in the moment experience. As a result, this psalm demonstrates that patient faithfulness is not bound to emotions. Instead, patient faithfulness is the continuing commitment to return to God in times of need.



O Sovereign Lord, we, like David, will inevitably sin and find ourself under Your discipline. Lord, we will also find ourselves accepting of your discipline while our situation grows worse. May we be so bold as to ask for Your gracious forgiveness while representing the greater sufferings our waiting has caused as David has. Help us as we seek remain faithful and return to you despite our emotions. In Christ’s name amen.

Bryn Robinson