Today’s Summer in the Psalms passage is Psalm 39:1-13. You can read Psalm 39 here.

The progression of this Psalm confuses me, but I think that is probably because I like resolution and happy endings.  I think lament Psalms are very challenging for us as 21st Century Americans, because we have very little to lament.  We have the ability to insulate ourselves from much of the trouble happening in the world and we are very good at securing our futures.  Most, if not all, of us know what we are having for our next meal (or next several meals).  We say money is tight, but in reality not to the degree that we will not have a roof over our heads or clothes to wear.  And because of these things, we also rarely realize what the psalmist understands – the brevity of life.

The other reason I think we struggle with Psalm 39 is because as a culture we have stopped practicing lament and personal confession of sin.  It is obvious as the psalm progresses that the psalmist believes God is in opposition to him because of his sin.  See verses  8-11 below.

Deliver me from all my transgressions;
Make me not the reproach of the foolish.
I have become mute, I do not open my mouth,
Because it is You who have done it.
Remove Your plague from me;
Because of the opposition of Your hand I am perishing.
With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity;
You consume as a moth what is precious to him;
Surely every man is a mere breath.     Selah.

I have had significant trials in my life, including the death of my first wife, yet this Psalm still makes me feel uncomfortable, particularly with the way it ends.  I love the section in the middle where the psalmist turns towards God as his hope.

And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in You.
Deliver me from all my transgressions;
Make me not the reproach of the foolish.

But in the final verses the psalmist again petitions God to hear him, and then asks God to turn his gaze away from him that he may smile again.

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry;
Do not be silent at my tears;
For I am a stranger with You,
A sojourner like all my fathers.
Turn Your gaze away from me, that I may smile again
Before I depart and am no more.

I tend to think of God’s gaze as something that I want turned towards me, but I also know I am not very aware of my sin from day to day. The psalmist is aware of his sin and that God seems to be in opposition to him and he continues to pray and put his hope in God.

This psalm leaves me with questions to ponder:

Have I ever felt like the Psalmist, like God is in opposition to me?

How aware am I of the brevity (shortness) of my life?

Is there sin in my life that needs confessing and lamenting?

How can I begin practicing confession more often?

Do I place my hope in things that pass away? Or am I developing the skill of choosing to hope in God, even when He feels in opposition to me?

{If you have thoughts about this Psalm or any of the others we’re covering this summer, hop on over to our Facebook group,  where we’re hoping to experience conversation and community around the Psalms this summer!

Also, if you’ve missed any of our Summer in the Psalms devotionals this summer, you can find them all on our Campus Impact Blog.}

Matt Meyer grew up in Plattsmouth, NE. He has been involved with Campus Impact since he came to college in 1989 – 4 years as a student, 10 years as a volunteer coach and 13 years in his current role as College Pastor of Spiritual Formation. This summer he is enjoying grilling out, reading and riding his bike every day that he can! He can be reached at mailto:mmeyer@lincolnberean.org.