Psalm 39

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Psalm 39 in Franciscan Manuscript

Psalm 39 is the 39th psalm of the Book of Psalms.[1] It is a meditation of David on the fragility of man before God,[2][3] that ends in a prayer for a peaceful life.

The Psalm is addressed to Jeduthun possibly the same as Ethan,[4] numbered among the sons of Merari.[5][6]


There is verses numbering conflict between Hebrew and Latin versions.

Clarke holds the psalm relates:[7]

  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.
Psalms scroll.

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:[8]

  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[edit]

The tradition of interpretation of the Psalm in Christianity is as an analogy[9] 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.[10]

Charles Spurgeon sees the Psalm say there is a time to be silent and a time to speak.[11] and Hans Werner sees an inner struggle for David to control his tongue[12]



Among Catholics[edit]

Traditionally, this psalm was recited or sung in monasteries during the lundi[14] of matins, according to the rule of Saint Benedict of 530AD[15][16] In current Liturgy of the Hours, it is sung or recited the Office of Readings of Wednesday of the second semaine.[17]

In music[edit]

Verses 4 to 7 are used in the third movement of A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms.

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


  1. ^ according to Greek system of the numbering it is 38.
  2. ^ David Meditates on Mans Frailty.
  3. ^ John Wesley’s Psalm 39 Bible Commentary.
  4. ^ 1 Chron. vi. 44.
  5. ^ 1Ch 15:6
  6. ^ His children after him appear to have remained in the same position, even so late as the days of Nehemiah.
  7. ^ Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary. On Psalms 39.
  8. ^ Hermann Gunkel, Die Psalmen (61986), 163f.
  9. ^ Reinhard Schlieben, Christliche Theologie und Philologie in der Spätantike: Die schulwiss. Methoden d. Psalmenexegese Cassiodors (1974), 26
  10. ^ Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary. On Psalms 39.
  11. ^ Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David.
  12. ^ Werner Bible Commentary.
  13. ^ The Complete Artscroll Machzor for Rosh Hashanah page 353
  14. ^ Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique, p. 154, 1938/2003
  15. ^ Règle de saint Benoît, traduction de Prosper Guéranger, (Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, réimpression 2007)p. 46,
  16. ^ La distribution des Psaumes dans la Règle de Saint Benoît.
  17. ^ Le cycle principal des prières liturgiques se déroule sur quatre semaines.