Opening Prayer

Gracious Lord, give me the faith I need to trust in your faithful care. I want to go about doing your will each day.

Read PSALM 39

Psalm 39[a]

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

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

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

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
    do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
    for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
    you consume their wealth like a moth—
    surely everyone is but a breath.

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


  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.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


‘Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.’1

Think Further

In the previous psalm, David is silent in the presence of his enemies.2 Here, he starts off silent in the presence of God (vs 1,2). There is a time to be silent and we should not be afraid of it – but then, David’s heart burns as he meditates (v 3). The underlying idea of meditation at that time would have been reading a sacred text out loud and then pondering its meaning. Whether silent or audible, David is deeply stirred. He pours out his lament before the Lord. Like Jeremiah, he feels God’s word becoming like a fire burning in his bones and he simply must speak out.3

David’s anguish leads to a powerful and insightful prayer (v 4). He is not asking to be given a date or time for his demise, but rather for a clearer perspective on life and death. Like Job,4 he becomes aware that life is fleeting and that, in relative terms, ‘Everyone is but a breath’ (v 5). Moses prayed, ‘Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom’.5 Grasping the shortness of our earthly lives may help us to get an eternal perspective and take every opportunity to serve God’s plan for us.

It is sad that it took suffering and persecution to bring Job and David to this place of understanding and insight, but that seems to have been a part of what God was doing in their lives. He does not waste our sorrows, and neither should we. If we will follow David’s example of meditating on God’s Word, crying out to him from our burning hearts, repenting, and putting our hope in the Lord (v 7), then he will carry us through our circumstances, however long or short our lives turn out to be.


Read Psalm 90:12–15 aloud and meditate on Moses’ prayer, making it your own and thanking God for his unfailing love. Receive joy and gladness today.

Closing prayer

Yes Lord, my life has many ups and downs. Sometimes I feel like asking you to look away, but you are for me, not against me. Hallelujah, all praise to you.

Last Updated on March 26, 2023 by kingstar

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