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To the Director: To Jeduthun. A Davidic Psalm.

A Prayer about Life’s Priorities

39 I told myself, “I will keep watch over my tongue to keep from sinning.
    I will muzzle my mouth when the wicked are around.”
I was as silent as a mute person;
    I said nothing, not even something good,
        and my distress deepened.
My heart within me became incensed;[a]
    as I thought about it, the fire burned.

Then I[b] spoke out:
Lord, let me know how my life ends,[c]
    and the standard by which you will measure[d] my days, whatever it is!
        Then I will know how transient my life is.
Look, you have made my life span fit in your hand;
    It is nothing compared to yours.
        Surely every person at their best is a puff of wind.
Interlude
In fact, people walk around as shadows.
    Surely, they busy themselves for nothing,
        heaping up possessions but not knowing who will get them.
How long, Lord, will I wait expectantly?
    I have placed my hope in you.
Deliver me from all my transgressions,
    and do not let fools scorn me.”

I remain silent;
    I do not open my mouth,
        for you are the one who acted.
10 Stop scourging me,
    since I have been crushed by your heavy hand.
11 You rebuke by chastening a man with the consequence of iniquities;
    you destroy what is attractive to him, as one would treat a moth.
        Indeed, every person is a puff of wind.
Interlude

12 Hear my prayer, Lord,
    pay attention to my cry,
        and do not ignore my tears.
I am an alien in your presence,
    a stranger just like my ancestors were.
13 Stop looking at me with chastisement,[e] so I can smile again,
    before I depart and am no more.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 39:3 Lit. hot
  2. Psalm 39:3 Lit. Then my mouth
  3. Psalm 39:4 Lit. my end
  4. Psalm 39:4 Lit. the measure of
  5. Psalm 39:13 The Heb. lacks with chastisement

Psalm 39[a]

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

I said, “I will watch my ways(A)
    and keep my tongue from sin;(B)
I will put a muzzle on my mouth(C)
    while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,(D)
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish(E) increased;
    my heart grew hot(F) within me.
While I meditated,(G) the fire(H) burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;(I)
    let me know how fleeting(J) my life is.(K)
You have made my days(L) a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,(M)
    even those who seem secure.[b]

“Surely everyone goes around(N) like a mere phantom;(O)
    in vain they rush about,(P) heaping up wealth(Q)
    without knowing whose it will finally be.(R)

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.(S)
Save me(T) from all my transgressions;(U)
    do not make me the scorn(V) of fools.
I was silent;(W) I would not open my mouth,(X)
    for you are the one who has done this.(Y)
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow(Z) of your hand.(AA)
11 When you rebuke(AB) and discipline(AC) anyone for their sin,
    you consume(AD) their wealth like a moth(AE)
    surely everyone is but a breath.(AF)

12 “Hear my prayer, Lord,
    listen to my cry for help;(AG)
    do not be deaf(AH) to my weeping.(AI)
I dwell with you as a foreigner,(AJ)
    a stranger,(AK) as all my ancestors were.(AL)
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
    before I depart and am no more.”(AM)

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 39:1 In Hebrew texts 39:1-13 is numbered 39:2-14.
  2. Psalm 39:5 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verse 11.

39 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,

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.

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.

10 Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.

11 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.

12 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.

13 O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

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