1 A psalm of David, to bring to remembrance and make memorial.
O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me. 3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. 4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.
5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. 7 My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.
9 All my longings lie open before you, O Lord: my sighing is not hidden from you. 10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. 11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbours stay far away.
12 Those who seek my life set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they plot deception. 13 I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear, like a mute, who cannot open his mouth; 14 I have become like a man who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply.
15 I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God. 16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips.” 17 For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. 18 I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin. 19 Many are those who are my vigorous enemies; those who hate me without reason are numerous. 20 Those who repay my good with evil slander me when I pursue what is good.
21 O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. 22 Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Saviour.
When God convicts of sin
(Verses 1-4) ‘Conviction of sin’ Is when God’s Holy Spirit awakens your conscience to your sins, which are always bad in His eyes. He sees and knows all about them. God punishes sin forever. The wonder of Christ’s gospel is that Jesus has taken that punishment for your sin in your place. He forgives and changes you if you turn from that sin and trust Jesus as your personal Saviour. Psalm 38:1-4 describe how bad David feels as God shows him his sin and guilt. Which sins? We are not told. David feels pain: he is chastened, wounded by arrows of conviction, and pressed down by God’s hand. The pain seems even physical: sometimes sin affects physical well-being.
(Verses 5-8) He knows the pain coming from God’s conviction of his conscience is caused by his sins (‘iniquities’). He hurts in his flesh, bones, head, loins, and heart. These wounds of his sin affect his health, rest, peace, and loins. He feels wounded, burdened, bent, bowed down, bruised and worn out. God faithfully shows a guilty sinner how much he needs to come to God to ask for forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation with his offended God.
(Verses 9-14) God knows all about David’s ‘sin-sickness’ troubling his conscience, mind, body and life. His plight is worsened because those who love and befriend him, now ignore him. His foes, full of treachery and deceit, seek his harm or death. David wisely behaves like a deaf and mute man – as though he cannot hear or answer them.
(Verses 15-20) God wants conviction of sin and opposition by foes, to drive the guilty and suffering person to Him for mercy, grace, salvation and help. David realises this. Do you? If so, turn to Him, now. Follow David’s example. He hopes in God, who will answer his prayer to restore him. David prays to God. He asks to overcome both opposition and his own sins, by God’s grace. He is filled with sorrow for his sins. He confesses them and his guilt to God. He asks for God’s help against his foes’ hatred of David’s aim to do good and please God.
(Verses 21-22) David ends by asking God to stay close to him, and for His help now. He knows the LORD is His salvation. You can know that by personal faith in Jesus.