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Daily Fiber
for the soul

by Edward E. Thomason

PSALM 39
SLICE ONE: LEARNING
(feed your head)

The "crust" of the matter:
In this Psalm, David seems to be facing a "mid-life" crisis. The realization that life is brief and that he might not be prepared for death causes him to seek peace with God. There are several stages that he goes through in wrestling with these things. First, he suppresses his feelings. Next, there is an outburst of emotion as he expresses his troubled thoughts. (What was bottled up comes pouring out.) As he searches for help, he reminds himself of his hope. And finally he ends with prayer which is the solution to many of our "crisis" in life.

Ingredients this serving:
Ps 39:1-3 Suppression
Ps 39:4-6 Outburst
Ps 39:7-11 Hope
Ps 39:12-13 Prayer

Suppression

Lesson: The psalmist is troubled about something that he seems to want to keep to himself. So often, we may find ourselves going through a similar experience. We dare not speak our troubled thoughts for fear that some (especially those who are not believers) might misunderstand or mock us. But suppression can only go on for so long until there is an outpouring at some point. For the Christians, that 

outpouring of emotion may come at a time of private prayer.

Ps 39:1-3 "I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,"

Comments to munch on:
The author expressed how his efforts to keep his trouble to himself, was all to no avail. At some point the silence broke and the sorrow that burned and stirred in his heart came out. It is thought that the trouble the psalmist wrestles with was the fact that a friend or acquaintance suddenly without forewarning had died. The unexpected, shortness of a friendís life, had made the psalmist soberly consider his own life and death. In verse 4, below he seeks to know of his own end and how long his life will actually be so that he can know how frail he really is. The realization that life is brief and can often be cut even shorter by sudden death, can create anxiety.

1. What can the suppression of anxiety and worries cause?
2. Some describe such suppression as if one was blowing up a balloon. Sooner or later something is going to explode. What should one do to relieve such pressure.
3. While it is always good to be careful that we not sin with our words or that we do not express our fears and doubts before those who would only scoff and mock us, what is one of the best ways to express our thoughts?

Outburst

Ps 39:4-6 "LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as  



nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them."
Comments to munch on: 
David soberly reflected on the brevity of life. Our lives are really only a few "handbreadths of time." Our age (span of days) is actually "nothing" in comparison to God and eternity. He sounds depressed as these things weigh upon his mind. He states that "every man at his best state is altogether vanity." Man is so very frail and weak. He can heap up riches in business, but cannot change the future.

1. When someone you know suddenly dies unexpectedly, how does that affect your sense of mortality? Does it ever trouble you to think that your life might abruptly end just as others do?
2. Do such thoughts cause you to think about your priorities in life? About you relationship with God?

Hope

Ps 39:7-11 "And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee. Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it. Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand. When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah."

Comments to munch on
All is not lost. There is "hope" in God. Without hope, nothing would make sense. The psalmist has hope in three specific areas: 
First there is the hope of forgiveness. Herein is the underlying reason why he has a fear of sudden death. This may be why he kept his mouth closed and suppressed his thoughts. 

He does not want his enemies or the non-believers to know that he feared facing death because he was not really prepared. People scoff at those whose religion does not seem to give them security regardless of what they do. But they fail to take into account the moral factor of sin. Christian people can willfully sin against God and commit acts of immorality for which they should be ashamed and should seek forgiveness. Yet, some may conceal their sins and never repent or confess them. They live with a guilty conscience and live with the constant and troubling fear of sudden death and facing judgment unprepared.
Second: there is the hope of deliverance from the reproach of the foolish. Some may never understand that God abhors sin. There may always be some who will mock those who take sin serious. But in the end, the faithful will be vindicated before the foolish.
Third: there is the hope that we may, with Godís help, recover our strength (moral resolve) and conquer our moral frailties before death comes. (see verse 13 below.)

1. Can a Christian have a sense of assurance that he or she is prepared for death? How? What should we do in order to be prepared at all times for death?
2. Do we have any guarantee that we will not suddenly die?
3. You have probably attended funerals where found it hard to find good things to say about the deceased. But such is not true at the funeral of a good person. No one says, well they wasted their life serving Jesus. No one says, they wasted their life doing good deeds and being kind. Discuss these thoughts.

 

 



Prayer

Ps 39:12-13 "Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more."

Comments to munch on:
David offers up genuine tears of remorse and penitence as he prays. In many ways we may feel like strangers before God when we have sinned. But such alienation can be dissolved by the peace that passes all understanding when we know we have sought and found Godís grace and forgiveness once more.

1. How important is remorse when seeking forgiveness for sins?
2. If you feel like a stranger to God, perhaps there is sin in your life that needs to be forgiven.

SLICE TWO: LIVING
(nourish your soul)

David felt like he was a "sojourner" (verse 12) as he walked this earth. In a sense that is true of all of us. This is not our home. We are just passing through. But as we travel this vale, we have an opportunity to prepare for a better place. Life is so very precious and frail. Let us pray that God may "spare us" from sudden death. But also pray that should we be consumed by his mighty hand, we will leave this world prepared.

A FEW MORE CRUMBS
(fragments overlooked)

Ps 39:13 "...before I go hence and be no more." Once we leave this realm, we are no more of this earth. The world may soon forget that we passed this way but God will not forget. And while life is gone, our soul is eternal and lives on.

Edward Thomason - copyright © 2000