“O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger.” David wrote this psalm for the “memorial offering.” Whatever else that phrase may refer to, David wanted the thoughts expressed in this poem to be remembered by the worshiping congregation of Israel.
While the facts of Israel’s sin and God’s holy discipline of His people were important, David’s words here did not describe a national failing, but a deeply personal struggle. God’s correction had come down upon him and had taken away his health and composure. He knew the reason for his troubles. His “sin” and “iniquities” were too heavy for him. He was wounded by his own “foolishness.”
David brought his distress before the Almighty. He sang to the Lord about his trials, describing his loss of “friends and companions” who stood aloof from his “plague.”
The king was aware of the treachery of those around him who sought to destroy him, but he seemed powerless to respond to their schemes. Still he knew that God could hear his cries and answer him from heaven. So he waited for the Lord. With heartfelt anguish concerning his own failures, he turned to God for help.
Why did the enemies described in Psalm 38 hate David? Was it because of his sin? The only commentary he left for us was this: His foes turned against him “because I follow after good.”
The psalm ends with this desperate plea: “Do not forsake me, O Lord! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!”
Why did Israel need to remember this song? Why was the message contained in David’s composition so important? Sinners like David, facing the loving discipline of God and hated because of their continued love for God and his ways, needed to pay close attention to what David had discovered. Just because our Father in heaven may be correcting us does not mean that he has forgotten how to help us when we are in danger.
We live in a better era than King David’s. David’s Lord has come in person. He has not forsaken us. He has heard the cry of His chosen ones and has become our salvation. The story of His loving hand of discipline and His powerful embrace that rescues us is a message worth remembering.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father God, You know the truth about our iniquities. We have violated Your commandments. We have brought great trouble upon ourselves. Our bodies are weak from sin. We have been full of worry and shame. Forgive us and heal us. We confess our iniquity with a true and godly sorrow, and we hope in Your kind mercy.