I said, “Hear me! Lest when my foot slips,
they exalt themselves against me.”
The writer of Psalm 38 was in an extraordinarily difficult place. He was suffering in three different ways at the same time. First, God had stripped him of his health because he had committed great offences against God:
1. O Lord, rebuke me not in your wrath; neither chasten me in your hot displeasure.
2. For your arrows stick fast in me, and your hand presses me sore.
3. There is no soundness in my flesh because of your anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.
4. For my iniquities are gone over my head. As a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
5. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.
6. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.
7. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease, and there is no soundness in my flesh.
8. I am feeble and sore broken. I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.
9. Lord, all my desire is before you; and my groaning is not hidden from you.
10. My heart pants, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes, it also is gone from me.
Secondly, he is suffering extreme loneliness because all of his family and friends have backed away from him. He does not state why, but it is either that his sins have made them angry with him or that his sickness is so vile that they cannot bear to be around him, or both.
11. My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my plague; and my relatives stand afar off.
Lastly, he is suffering at the hands of those who hate him, who are taking advantage of the opportunity to put him down, now that he has erred and the Lord is chastening him:
12. They also that seek after my life lay snares for me, and those who seek my hurt speak destruction, and plan deception all the day long.
13. But I, as a deaf man, do not hear; and I am as a mute man who opens not his mouth.
14. Thus I was as a man that does not hear not, and in whose mouth is no response.
15. For in you, O Lord, do I hope. You will hear, O Lord my God.
16. For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me. When my foot slips, they magnify themselves against me.
17. For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me.
18. For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.”
19. But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong: and those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied.
20. Those also who render evil for good are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.
So, the Lord is chastening him for the evil he has done, his enemies are rejoicing at his suffering and are trying to finish him off because of the good he has done, and his family and friends have deserted him until they see what happens next.
This suffering man knew he had sinned; he knew no one on earth could help him, or even wanted to help him; and he knew there were many who were determined to destroy him. He also knew beyond all doubt that His only hope was to somehow obtain mercy from God, and he threw himself helplessly at His feet.
21. Forsake me not, O Lord. O my God, be not far from me.
22. Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.
Is there anyone who can doubt that God had mercy on this man who was so completely honest with himself about his sins and who cried out so meekly for help from the Almighty?