David is a Bible character of extreme contrasts. On the one hand, he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14); he enjoyed extraordinary, blissful, and sweet fellowship with Jehovah. On the other hand, he was also a man who experienced up close and personally the ghastly horrors of sin; with many bitter tears, horrific regret, and an abundance of intense heartache, he suffered through the rugged, unflinching hardness of sin’s guilt and transgression’s consequences.
Psalm 38’s superscription declares that this composition of David was intended to be a perpetual, haunting reminder of the horrors and hardness of transgression. In the first half of the psalm, David describes his woes (vv. 1-10) and his foes (vv. 11-14).
He writes: “O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure! For Your arrows pierce me deeply, and Your hand presses me down. There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger nor any health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are full of inflammation, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart pants, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me. 11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, and my relatives stand afar off. Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; those who seek my hurt speak of destruction and plan deception all the day long. But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; and I am like a mute who does not open his mouth. Thus, I am like a man who does not hear and in whose mouth is no response.”
How dark is the night of sin!