Psalm 39 – My Hope Is in You

Psalm 39 seems to be connected in theme to Psalm 38. David is struggling under what he believes to be God's punishment. Are you struggling through a difficult situation? Then use the words of David to bring your concerns before God.


The psalm is divided in to three sections based upon the use of the phrase "mankind is but a breath." This phrase occurs at the end of verse 5 and 11. Each time this phrase is also followed by the word "Selah." These two markers make the division of the psalm into three parts the most obvious choice.  The central phrase and main theme is found in verse 7.

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
    My hope is in you." Psalm 39:7

Life is Fleeting

Psalm 39:1-5

At the beginning of the psalm it appears that David is surrounded by wicked people. To protect God's name and glory, David is set on not opening his mouth in front of them. He probably fears that they will take any negative comments as reflecting on the glory and goodness of God. But this silence only increases his frustration.

I was mute and silent;
    I held my peace to no avail,
and my distress grew worse. Psalm 39:2

Have you ever been so upset at your condition in life that you burned to express your frustration to God? David now lets loose his tongue to cry out to God. His first complaint is that life is too short. Life flies by like a breath of air.

Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
    and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah Psalm 39:5

My Hope Is in You

Psalm 39:6-11

Not only is life short, but people waste this short existence frantically trying to gather up as much money as possible. Yet, in the end, they cannot even control who will get the money.

David has a better solution: "My hope is in You."

Don't seek after money. Seek after God!

The rest of this section deals with David's acknowledgement that this punishment is from God. David recognizes his sin and that God is just in disciplining people. But David's cry is that God would release him from the punishment before he becomes the scorn of fools. God, please don't let my sin bring me down to ruin.

Deliver me from all my transgressions.
    Do not make me the scorn of the fool! Psalm 39:8

David ends this section by reminding God that human life is but a breath of air. It is so fleeting. In other words, "God please remove your punishment before my breath of a life is gone."

Hear My Prayer

Psalm 39:12-13

The final two verses are Davids heart cry for God to look away.

"Look away from me, that I may smile again,
    before I depart and am no more!” Psalm 39:13

The point is not that David wishes for God to ignore him. He is referring to the angry gaze of God - to God's punishment. David has already told us that his only hope is in God. He does not want God to leave him. His wish is that God would turn away His wrath so that David could once again enjoy the blessings of God.


Are you struggling in life? Are you willing to be this open and honest with God? God responds to honest prayers.

Is your hope firmly set on God or are you frantically trying to make life work by grasping at money? Our life is too short to waste it worrying about money and wealth. Put your hope in God!

Jerry Wyrick

This post is part of a series on the Psalms.

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in General Worship, Personal Worship, Psalms and tagged , .