Psalm 38

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Manuscript of Psalm 38

Psalm 38 is the 38th psalm of the Book of Psalms and titled "A psalm of David to bring to remembrance."[1]

The Psalm's topic is God's displeasure at sin. (1-11) and the psalmist's sufferings and prayers. (12-22).[2][3] The Psalm opens with a prayer, David felt as if he had been forgotten of his God. It then passes intermittently between complaint and hope.[4] Benjamin Weiss noted the "depth of misery into which the psalmist gradually plunges in his complaints, then the sudden grasp at the arm of mercy and omnipotence"[5]

Written late in David's Life,[6] though Coffman's believes it was early in David's reign[7] It was oft conjectured as a biography of sorts for David.[8] John Calvin thought rather it was David's intent to commit to music to transmit what he had learnt through his life, of the relationship he had with his Lord[9] before he passed.



  • Verse 22 is part of the long Tachanun recited on Mondays and Thursdays.[10][11]


From around 530AD, this Psalm was traditionally performed at monasteries, during matins of lundi,[12] according to the rule of St. Benedict.[13][14] Nowadays, Psalm 37 is recited during the liturgy of the hours on Friday, the second semaine8, at the Office of Readings.[15]

Musical settings[edit]

Johann Sebastian Bach set Psalm 38:4 in the opening chorus of his cantata Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe, BWV 25.


Psalms scroll.
  1. ^ Matthew Henry, Commentaries on Psalm 38.
  2. ^ Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
  3. ^ John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes.
  4. ^ Charles H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David.
  5. ^ Benjamin Weiss.
  6. ^ Christopher Love
  7. ^ Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible.
  8. ^ Charles H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David.
  9. ^ Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 9: Psalms, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50].]
  10. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 129
  11. ^ D’après le Complete Artscroll Siddur, compilation des prières juives.
  12. ^ Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique, 1938p. 149.
  13. ^ Règle de saint Benoît, traduction par Prosper Guéranger, p. 46, Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, réimpression
  14. ^
  15. ^ Le cycle principal des prières liturgiques se déroule sur quatre semaines.