Will you hide yourself forever?
How long will your wrath burn like fire?
How short my time is?
For what vanity have you created all mortals?
Who can live?
Who can never see death?
Who can escape the power of Sheol?”
The psalmist continues his complaint. He wanted to know how long Yahweh would hide himself. How long would his anger continue? He reminded Yahweh that his life was short. No one can live and not see death. Sheol awaited all. No one could escape from the power of Sheol, the underground world of nothingness. This section ended with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.
God of hosts!
How long will you be angry
With your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears.
You have given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn of our neighbors.
Our enemies laugh among themselves.”
The psalmist wanted to know how long Yahweh would be angry with them. Why did he not like the prayer of his people? He had sent them tears instead of bread. They ate and drank tears. They were the scorn of their neighbors as their enemies were laughing at them.
“How long will you assail a person?
How long will you batter your victim?
All of you!
You are like a leaning wall!
You are like a tottering fence!
They only plan
To bring down a person of prominence.
They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
But inwardly they curse.”
David addressed the evil ones directly, all of you. He wanted to know how long would they assail people and batter their victims. They were like a leaning wall or a tottering fence. They only wanted to bring down the important people. They actually enjoyed lies. They blessed with their mouths but were inwardly cursing. This section ends with a musical interlude meditative pause, a Selah.
“To the choirmaster leader, Jeduthun, a psalm of David
‘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.
“To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David.
Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul?
How long must I have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”
This is another short Psalm 13 with no other mention than a choir leader and David. David has a personal lament. He wanted to know how long Yahweh would forget him. How long would Yahweh hide his face from him? How long would he have sorrow in his heart and soul all day long? How long would his enemies exalt over him? Clearly David was concerned that he was being neglected by Yahweh.
“To the choirmaster leader with stringed instruments, according to the Sheminith, a psalm of David.
Do not rebuke me in your anger!
Do not discipline me in your wrath!
Be gracious to me!
I am languishing.
My bones are shaking with terror.
My soul also is struck with terror.
But you Yahweh!
How long will this last?”
This Psalm 6 is a psalm for healing or a penitential psalm. Once again, there is a note to the choirmaster or leader about stringed instruments. It also is a psalm of David without any particular designation of any event in his life. However, there is this note about Sheminith, the Hebrew word for 8th so that it may mean this psalm should be sung in an 8th key or octave, perhaps the lowest male note. This would fit with the concept of this penitential lament. This is addressed to Yahweh directly. David did not want to be rebuked or disciplined by Yahweh because he was angry. He wanted Yahweh to be gracious to him. Both his body and soul were struck with terror. He wanted to know how long this was going to last.