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David wrote this Psalm and sent it to Jeduthun. Psalm 62 and Psalm 77 are also written to Jeduthun. He is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 16:41-42; 25:1 as one of music leaders in the temple. In 2 Chronicles 35:15 he is called “the king’s seer.”
Psalm 38 and Psalm 39 were probably written during the same time when David was being chastened by the Lord (cf. 38:2; 39:10).
Chastisement lead David to “take heed” to his ways (v. 1). That is what chastening should do—Lead a believer to take inventory of his life and reconsider what he is doing.
In Psalm 39 David gives us a proper view of God’s chastening:
I. Chastening helps to restrain our words (vs. 1-3, 9).
Socrates tells a story about a man named Pambo, who came to a learned man, and asked him to teach him some psalm or other. He began to read Psalm 39, “I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue.” Having read the first verse, Pambo shut the book, and got up to leave, saying, “I will go learn that point first.”
After several months the old man asked Pambo when he would return to learn the rest of the Psalm. Pambo answered he had not yet learned the first verse.
The Bible has a lot to say about our tongues. God devotes an entire chapter to the issue of our tongue (James 3).
Here are eight kinds of tongues mentioned in Scripture:
- The BRIDLED tongue (Ps. 39:1). Proverbs 29:20—“Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.” James 1:9 admonishes us to be swift to hear and slow to speak.
- The BENEVOLENT tongue (Prov. 31:26).
- The BURNT tongue (Luke 16:24).
- The BACKBITING tongue (Prov. 25:23)
- The BOASTFUL tongue (Ps. 12:3; James 3:5)
- The BOGUS tongue (Ps. 109:2; 120:2-3).
- The BLESSING tongue (Ps. 35:28).
- The BENEFICIAL tongue (Prov. 12:18).
A. The RESOLVE to be silent (v.1). David resolved to keep his tongue from sinning. He was probably fearful he may say the wrong thing and make matters
- “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” (Prov. 21:23).
- “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God… let thy words be few… Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin…” (Eccl. 5:2, 6).
v. 9—David could not say anything against his chastisement since it was God who did it. He knew he deserved what he was getting.
B. The REASON to be silent (v. 1). Sometimes it would do us all good to just sit and be silent, especially when you’re in the presence of the wicked. They will watch what you say to use it against you.
C. The RESTRAINT to be silent (v.1). Beware of a loose tongue! David would bridle his tongue. David prayed, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Ps. 141:3)
D. The RELEASE of being silent (v. 3).