A prayer in distress (Ps 39:1-39:6)

“To the choirmaster leader, Jeduthun, a psalm of David

I said.

‘I will guard my ways.

So that I may not sin with my tongue.

I will keep a muzzle on my mouth,

As long as the wicked are in my presence.’

I was silent and still.

I held my peace to no avail.

My distress grew worse.

My heart became hot within me.

When I mused,

The fire burned.

Then I spoke with my tongue.


Let me know my end.

What is the measure of my days?

Let me know how fleeting my life is!

You have made my days a few handbreadths.

My lifetime is as nothing in your sight.

Surely every man stands as a mere breath!”


Once again, Psalm 39 is a prayer for healing. Jeduthun was the name of one of the Levite Merari families that David appointed as music master in 1 Chronicles, chapters 16 and 25. He was a trumpet player and his sons led the music in the Temple. His name appears here and in Psalms 62 and 77. David or Jeduthun were guarding their ways. They did not want their tongue to sin so they kept a muzzle on their mouths, like vicious dogs today. One of the problems is that this psalmist did not speak out when he was in trouble. His heart burned within him. What he really wanted to know was how long his life would be. When would his days be over? He knew that his lifetime was like a breath in the life time of Yahweh. This section ends with a musical pause, a Selah.

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