Psalm 39:7
And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) And now, Lord . . .—“If such is man’s condition, what,” says the psalmist, “is my expectation?” We seem to hear the deep sigh with which the words are uttered; and we must remember that the poet can turn for comfort to no hope of immortality. That had not yet dawned. The thought of God’s mercy, and the hope of his own moral deliverance, these form the ground of his noble elevation above the oppressive sense of human frailty. The LXX. and Vulg. give it very expressively:—

“And now what is my expectation? Is it not the Lord?

And my substance is with thee.”

Psalm 39:7. And now, Lord, what wait I for? &c. — Seeing this life, and all its enjoyments, are so vain and short to all men, and especially to me, I will never expect nor seek for happiness here from these vanities. I will compose myself patiently and contentedly to bear both my own afflictions, and the prosperity and glory of ungodly men, for both are vanishing and transitory things. And I will seek for happiness nowhere but in the love and favour of God, in glorifying him here, and in the hope or confident expectation of enjoying him hereafter; and, in the mean time, of receiving from him those supplies and aids which my present condition calls for.

39:7-13 There is no solid satisfaction to be had in the creature; but it is to be found in the Lord, and in communion with him; to him we should be driven by our disappointments. If the world be nothing but vanity, may God deliver us from having or seeking our portion in it. When creature-confidences fail, it is our comfort that we have a God to go to, a God to trust in. We may see a good God doing all, and ordering all events concerning us; and a good man, for that reason, says nothing against it. He desires the pardoning of his sin, and the preventing of his shame. We must both watch and pray against sin. When under the correcting hand of the Lord, we must look to God himself for relief, not to any other. Our ways and our doings bring us into trouble, and we are beaten with a rod of our own making. What a poor thing is beauty! and what fools are those that are proud of it, when it will certainly, and may quickly, be consumed! The body of man is as a garment to the soul. In this garment sin has lodged a moth, which wears away, first the beauty, then the strength, and finally the substance of its parts. Whoever has watched the progress of a lingering distemper, or the work of time alone, in the human frame, will feel at once the force of this comparison, and that, surely every man is vanity. Afflictions are sent to stir up prayer. If they have that effect, we may hope that God will hear our prayer. The believer expects weariness and ill treatment on his way to heaven; but he shall not stay here long : walking with God by faith, he goes forward on his journey, not diverted from his course, nor cast down by the difficulties he meets. How blessed it is to sit loose from things here below, that while going home to our Father's house, we may use the world as not abusing it! May we always look for that city, whose Builder and Maker is God.And now, Lord, what wait I for? - From the consideration of a vain world - of the fruitless efforts of man - of what so perplexed, embarrassed, and troubled him - the psalmist now turns to God, and looks to him as the source of consolation. Turning to Him, he gains more cheerful views of life. The expression "What wait I for?" means, what do I now expect or hope for; on what is my hope based; where do I find any cheerful, comforting views in regard to life? He had found none in the contemplation of the world itself, in man and his pursuits; in the course of things so shadowy and so mysterious; and he says now, that he turns to God to find comfort in his perplexities.

My hope is in thee - In thee alone. My reliance is on thee; my expectation is from thee. It is not from what I see in the world; it is not in my power of solving the mysteries which surround me; it is not that I can see the reason why these shadows are pursuing shadows so eagerly around me; it is in the God that made all, the Ruler over all, that can control all, and that can accomplish His own great purposes in connection even with these moving shadows, and that can confer on man thus vain in himself and in his pursuits that which will be valuable and permanent. The idea is, that the contemplation of a world so vain, so shadowy, so mysterious, should lead us away from all expectation of finding in that world what we need, or finding a solution of the questions which so much perplex us, up to the great God who is infinitely wise, and who can meet all the necessities of our immortal nature; and who, in his own time, can solve all these mysteries.

7. The interrogation makes the implied negative stronger. Though this world offers nothing to our expectation, God is worthy of all confidence.7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

8 Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.

9 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.

Psalm 39:7

"And now, Lord, what wait I for?" What is there in these phantoms to enchant me? Why should I linger where the prospect is so uninviting, and the present so trying? It were worse than vanity to linger in the abodes of sorrow to gain a heritage of emptiness. The Psalmist, therefore, turns to his God, in disgust of all things else; he has thought on the world and all things in it, and is relieved by knowing that such vain things are all passing away; he has cut all cords which bound him to earth, and is ready to sound "Boot and saddle, up and away." "My hope is in thee." The Lord is self-existent and true, and therefore worthy of the confidence of men; he will live when all the creatures die, and his fulness will abide when all second causes are exhausted; to him, therefore, let us direct our expectation, and on him let us rest our confidence. Away from sand to rock let all wise builders turn themselves, for if not today, yet surely ere long, a storm will rise before which nothing will be able to stand but that which has the lasting element of faith in God to cement it. David had but one hope, and that hope entered within the veil, hence he brought his vessel to safe anchorage, and after a little drifting all was peace.

Psalm 39:8

"Deliver me from all my transgressions." How fair a sign it is when the Psalmist no longer harps upon his sorrows, but begs freedom from his sins! What is sorrow when compared with sin! Let but the poison of sin be gone from the cup, and we need not fear its gall, for the bitter will act medicinally. None can deliver a man from his transgressions but the blessed One who is called Jesus, because he saves his people from their sins; and when he once works this great deliverance for a man from the cause, the consequences are sure to disappear too. The thorough cleansing desired is well worthy of note' to be saved from some transgressions would be of small benefit; total and perfect deliverance is needed. "Make me not the reproach of the foolish." The wicked are the foolish here meant: such are always on the watch for the faults of saints, and at once make them the theme of ridicule. It is a wretched thing for a man to be suffered to make himself the butt of unholy scorn by apostasy from the right way. Alas, how many have thus exposed themselves to well-deserved reproach! Sin and shame go together and from both David would fain be preserved.

Psalm 39:9

"I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it." This had been far clearer if it had been rendered, "I am silenced, I will not open my mouth." Here we have a nobler silence, purged of all sullenness, and sweetened with submission. Nature failed to muzzle the mouth, but grace achieved the work in the worthiest manner. How like in appearance may two very different things appear! silence is ever silence, but it may be sinful in one case and saintly in another. What a reason for hushing every murmuring thought is the reflection, "because thou didst it"! It is his right to do as he wills, and he always wills to do that which is wisest and kindest; why should I then arraign his dealings? Nay, if it be indeed the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.

Psalm 39:10

continued...

Seeing this life and all its enjoyments are so vain and short to all men, and especially to me, I will never expect nor seek for happiness here from these vanities; I will compose myself patiently and contentedly to bear both my own afflictions, and the prosperity and glory of ungodly men, for both are vanishing and transitory things, and I will seek for happiness no where but in the love and favour of God, in serving and glorifying him here, and in the hope or confident expectation of enjoying him hereafter; and in the mean time, of receiving from him those supplies and assistances which my present condition calls for.

And now, Lord, what wait I for?.... Look for, or expect, in this view of things? not long life, since the days of man are so short, and his age as nothing; not help from man, since he is altogether vanity; not riches and honour, since they are such poor, fading, perishing things; but the glories of another world, and the enjoyment of the Lord himself, both in this and that;

my hope is in thee; the psalmist now returns to himself, and comes to his right mind, and to a right way of judging and acting; making the Lord the object of his hope and trust, expecting all good things, grace and glory, alone from him; and this is the hope which makes not ashamed.

And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. And now] Or, Now therefore (Psalm 2:10), introduces a conclusion from a preceding statement.

what wait I for] What have I waited and still am waiting for? or, What (else) could I have waited for? the form of the question implying that nothing else was possible.

wait … hope] The words form a link between the preceding (Psalm 38:15) and the following (Psalm 40:1) Psalms.

7–9. Man’s life being thus transient, and earthly treasures thus deceitful, the Psalmist turns to God, as the one sure stay in life.

Verse 7. - And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee. And now - under these circumstances - human life being what it is, and all men nothing but vanity, what is my hope? what is my expectation? what am I waiting for? A cry, as it would seem, of utter despair. But when the night is darkest, day dawns. "Out of the depths" comes forth the voice of faith - "My hope is in THEE!" There is always hope in God When our father and mother forsake us, the Lord taketh us up. He will not leave us nor forsake us. So the psalmist ends his complaint by throwing himself into the arms of the Divine mercy, and unreservedly submitting himself to God's will. Psalm 39:7(Heb.: 39:8-12) It is customary to begin a distinct turning-point of a discourse with ועתּה: and now, i.e., in connection with this nothingness of vanity of a life which is so full of suffering and unrest, what am I to hope, quid sperem (concerning the perfect, vid., on Psalm 11:3)? The answer to this question which he himself throws out is, that Jahve is the goal of his waiting or hoping. It might appear strange that the poet is willing to make the brevity of human life a reason for being calm, and a ground of comfort. But here we have the explanation. Although not expressly assured of a future life of blessedness, his faith, even in the midst of death, lays hold on Jahve as the Living One and as the God of the living. It is just this which is so heroic in the Old Testament faith, that in the midst of the riddles of the present, and in the face of the future which is lost in dismal night, it casts itself unreservedly into the arms of God. While, however, sin is the root of all evil, the poet prays in Psalm 39:9 before all else, that God would remove from him all the transgressions by which he has fully incurred his affliction; and while, given over to the consequences of his sin, he would become, not only to his own dishonour but also to the dishonour of God, a derision to the unbelieving, he prays in Psalm 39:9 that God would not permit it to come to this. כּל, Psalm 39:9, has Mercha, and is consequently, as in Psalm 35:10, to be read with (not ŏ), since an accent can never be placed by Kametz chatûph. Concerning נבל, Psalm 39:9, see on Psalm 14:1. As to the rest he is silent and calm; for God is the author, viz., of his affliction (עשׂה, used just as absolutely as in Psalm 22:32; Psalm 37:5; Psalm 52:11, Lamentations 1:21). Without ceasing still to regard intently the prosperity of the ungodly, he recognises the hand of God in his affliction, and knows that he has not merited anything better. But it is permitted to him to pray that God would suffer mercy to take the place of right. נגעך is the name he gives to his affliction, as in Psalm 38:12, as being a stroke (blow) of divine wrath; תּגרת ידך, as a quarrel into which God's hand has fallen with him; and by אני, with the almighty (punishing) hand of God, he contrasts himself the feeble one, to whom, if the present state of things continues, ruin is certain. In Psalm 39:12 he puts his own personal experience into the form of a general maxim: when with rebukes (תּוכחות from תּוכחת, collateral form with תּוכחה, תּוכחות) Thou chastenest a man on account of iniquity (perf. conditionale), Thou makest his pleasantness (Isaiah 53:3), i.e., his bodily beauty (Job 33:21), to melt away, moulder away (ותּמס, fut. apoc. from המסה to cause to melt, Psalm 6:7), like the moth (Hosea 5:12), so that it falls away, as a moth-eaten garment falls into rags. Thus do all men become mere nothing. They are sinful and perishing. The thought expressed in Psalm 39:6 is here repeated as a refrain. The music again strikes in here, as there.
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