The dirge continues. Don’t know for sure if there’s a connection between yesterday’s Psalm 38 and this morning’s Psalm 39, but I’m thinking there could be. Whatever the cloud of dire circumstance and inner turmoil brought on by the songwriter’s transgression in yesterday’s reading, it seems to also be hanging over the lyrics of today’s song. Yesterday I was impressed at how David’s song conveyed a dynamic of praying our heads above water. This morning what grabbed me is that on this journey, though difficult sometimes, we’re not alone.
Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with You, a guest, like all my fathers. Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!
(Psalm 39:12 ESV)
As in Psalm 38, the pressure of his enemies about him, and the weight of the knowledge of his transgression within him, has the songwriter clearly in a desperate situation. And the psalmist knows they’re connected. His failure to get an upper hand with that which battles against him is directly related to the divine hand of discipline upon him. And so he prays, “Deliver me from all my transgressions” (39:8).
What’s more, his entire circumstance reminds him of life’s fleeting nature. He’s reminded that God has made his days but “a few handbreadths.” That any wealth a man heaps up here is without any benefit to him once the “mere breath” of his life has passed. He feels the futility and shortness of life as He asks the Creator to impress upon him afresh “the measure of my days” (39:4-6).
Yet the songwriter’s feelings of futility do not result in hopelessness.
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. (Psalm 39:7 ESV)
There’s the lifeline! My hope is in You. Though under God’s hand of discipline, though knowing the reality of divine rebuke for his sin (39:10-11), he also knows that “the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). God’s chastening in his life is another reminder that God is present in his life. That God has accepted him as a son, a son whom He will shape into the image of His own Son and will one day receive to Himself. Even in the hard times he hears a whisper of love that he is on a journey and that he’s not traveling alone.
For I am a sojourner with You, a guest, like all my fathers.
Life might be but a breath, but it’s not a breath that’s taken alone. The paths of our feet might take turns we never saw coming, but we’re not left to ourselves to navigate them. We might just be passing through, but we’re passing through with our hand in His. We’re not alone.
And while the treasures of this world will fade and eventually be left behind, we can, while on pilgrimage, lay up for ourselves “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” And where our treasure is, “there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:20-21).
Hearts set on things above. Guests in this world below. And even the hard times a reminder that we do not sojourn alone but with the God of our deliverance.
What amazing grace, that the LORD of all creation would journey with us.
To Him be all glory.