Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

Psalm 39

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Psalm 39

Psalm 39 is the 39th psalm of the Book of Psalms. It is a meditation of David on the fragility of man before God, that ends in a prayer for a peaceful life.


The Psalm is addressed to Jeduthun possibly the same as Ethan, numbered among the sons of Merari.


There is verses numbering conflict between Hebrew and Latin versions.

Clarke holds the psalm relates:

  1. the care and watchfulness over ones thoughts, tongue, and actions, v1-3.
  2. considers the brevity and uncertainty of human life, v4-7;
  3. prays for deliverance from sin, v8-11
  4. and that he may be protected and spared till he is fitted for another world, v12, 13.

While Spurgeon broke the Psalm down thus:

  1. Burdened with many sorrows v1-2
  2. prayer in his torment v 3-6
  3. submission to God v7-13
  4. relief and trust

The Old Testament scholar Hermann Gunkel in his standard work "The Psalms" believes the structuring of the verses was originally:

  1. Vers 2-4: Introduction to and Emergence of the poem
  2. Vers 5ff: The actual poem 1.Vers 5-7 and 12: general considerations
  3. Vers 8 and 13c.d: Return to yourself
  4. Vers 13a.b, 9-11 and
  5. Vers 14: the actual dirge

Exegetical tradition

The tradition of interpretation of the Psalm in Christianity is as an analogy of ones sins, where "he" is representative of the " members of his body "(Christians).

Adam Clarke summarizes the Psalm "Faith has always to struggle with difficulties. Though ... troubles of life, come ever into his memory; his prayer is that his God will provide for him.

Charles Spurgeon sees the Psalm say there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. and Hans Werner sees an inner struggle for David to control his tongue


  • Verse 8 is found in the repetition of the Amidah during Rosh Hashanah.
  • Among Catholics

    Traditionally, this psalm was recited or sung in monasteries during the lundi of matins, according to the rule of Saint Benedict of 530AD In current Liturgy of the Hours, it is sung or recited the Office of Readings of Wednesday of the second semaine.

    In music

    Verses 13 and 14 is used in the first movement of the Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky.


    Psalm 39 Wikipedia