Psalm 38. Confessions of a Sinful Man.


Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 38. (MsgB)

Take a deep breath, God; calm down—don’t be so hasty with Your punishing rod.
Your sharp-pointed arrows of rebuke draw blood; my backside smarts from Your caning.

I’ve lost twenty pounds in two months because of Your accusation.
My bones are brittle as dry sticks because of my sin.
I’m swamped by my bad behavior, collapsed under gunnysacks of guilt.

The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots because I’ve lived so badly.
And now I’m flat on my face feeling sorry for myself morning to night.

What I do, God, is wait for You, wait for my Lord, my God—You will answer!

King David. A man after God’s own heart. A shepherd-turned-king with a soft heart toward his Creator. A godly singer-songwriter with a pure heart and clean hands.

Bah! Humbug.

While it’s undoubtedly true that King David was a godly man, and without question, the most spiritually-sound, God-centered king that Israel ever had on the throne, the truth is that King David was a pitiful sinner just like you and me.

Sure enough, King David is a good man we can look up to and follow in his footsteps as one who has deep passion for his God. But let’s also be gut honest here, just as Psalm 38 is, and include the historical evidence that this same man after God’s own heart could sin just as well as the rest of us. Actually, in many ways, David could sin better than most of us!

Let me give you just one example of David’s sinful condition.

In a story that could be used today as a plot for a prime-time TV show, we find King David lusting over women of his kingdom (see 2nd Samuel 11: 2-3). He’s found drooling over one hot babe, bathing on an adjacent rooftop. Since he’s the king and he can sleep with anyone he likes, David has his people bring this young lady to his palace. There, he sleeps with this married woman and conceives a child outside of marriage (2nd Samuel 11: 4-5). In an attempt to hide his sin, he cooks up a plot to deceive that same woman’s husband, but the plot fails because of the husband’s high level of integrity (2nd Samuel 11: 6-13). He then, once again, abuses his kingly power by intentionally placing the betrayed husband in a location of war where he will be, most certainly, murdered by Israel’s enemies. (2nd Samuel 11: 14-25). Finally, with the husband now out of the way, he brings his young pregnant lover into his household, giving her a comfy home now that she was a poor widow with child. (2nd Samuel 11: 26-27).

2nd Samuel ends this sexy drama with these poignant words…

But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”

Hmm. You think?

So now, we turn over to Psalm 38 and we find poor ole King David pretty sick in body, mind and spirit as he twists and turns under the guilt of his sinful condition.

Sound familiar?

Indeed, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we must see here that God has His creative ways of allowing discomfort and pain to guide us back to Him. Keep in mind that it’s not God’s idea to put His people into painful and destructive situations. No. If it were up to Him, He would prefer His people to stay close by His side, tending to our lives, as we should. But let’s not kid ourselves here. You and I are prone to wander. We are independent suckers at our very core. We are people who love God, yes, but we also are very cunning at times. We see others out there in the world living it up and we kinda think it might not be too bad for us to get a little piece of the action as well.

So we do just that and bang. The sin is fun at first, but after a while the sweet candy turns sour and we start to feel the sick consequences of our disobedience. And much like King David sings in Psalm 38, we’re sick inside from our sin and want badly to get things right again with our God.

Thank goodness, we have a merciful Father who readily and freely forgives us for our sinful condition. But keep in mind that while God can wipe away our sin, He won’t always make the human consequences of our sin disappear quite as quickly. For King David, he had to live with some of the sad consequences of his night on the town for the rest of his life. And, as I see it, we may as well.

But take to heart King David’s hope here in this sad song. If we can learn to return back home, like the prodigal son does in Jesus’ story of the forgiving father, waiting upon our God to forgive and restore us back to life, there is always hope that we will learn from our life lessons and next time, just stay home, closer to Poppa, rather than choosing to go out for a free-for-all on the town.

For His Name’s sake!

My prayer: Lord, have mercy on my soul, a sinner, in need of a Savior. My human condition, Lord, makes me into a wanderer. I wander away from Your presence. I explore enticing things. There, I find evil dressed up in sweet clothing. I dive in. I sin. I regret. I ail. I cry out. I wait. For You, and You alone. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: What sweet temptations are calling my name today? What enticing treats are beckoning me to move away from my high position in God’s Kingdom? How can I learn from King David’s plight and not wander away this time, but stay close to my Father’s home, keeping my heart, mind and spirit directed toward God?

So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?


Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.

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