(7) And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. (8) Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the foolish. (9) I was mute. I do not open my mouth, for it is you that have done it. (10) Take away your stroke from me. I am consumed by the hostility of your hand. (11) When you discipline a man with reproofs for sin, you consume like a moth what is precious to him. Surely all humanity (is merely) a breath. (Selah) (12) Hear my prayer, Yahweh, and listen to my cry for help. Do not be silent at my tears, for I am an alien with you, a sojourner like all my fathers. (13) Turn your gaze away from me that I may smile again before I depart and am no more.
This second half of the psalm reflects the first half in two intriguing ways. First, David again describes himself as speechless as he had previously with the phrase, “I was mute” (cf. vss. 2 & 9). However, his silence this time results from his awareness of sins he had committed (vs. 8), not from a desire to avoid sinning with his mouth in voicing his troubling thoughts to God (vss. 1 & 2).
With the statement, “Surely all humanity (is merely) a breath” (vs. 11), we encounter an almost word-for-word repetition of the sentence David used earlier to describe the brevity of life: “Surely all humanity stands as a mere breath” (vs. 5). Here the emphasis has shifted from human temporality to God’s chastening us for our waywardness.
These changes help us realize that David’s theme in this second half of the psalm has shifted from reflecting on the brevity and insignificance of human life to considering how God disciplines us for our sinfulness. In essence, we bring upon ourselves the griefs and miseries we experience in our swiftly fading lives by our own rebellion. When will we finally learn to walk with Yahweh in trust and obedience rather than follow our own perverse ways?
I. Waiting on Yahweh for his deliverance (7 & 8)
II. Understanding why Yahweh disciplines us (9-11)
III. Seeking Yahweh’s mercy in our temporality (12 & 13)
When we learn to accept Yahweh’s chastisement, we will turn to him, confess our sins, and trust him for deliverance.
How often have we heard or used the phrase, “I just don’t have time”? Pressured schedules, the demands of those around us, and our seeming inability to order our lives all combine to make life one big scramble. Repeatedly we hear ourselves and others grumbling, “I'm out of time. My schedule is so full. I can never seem to get everything done.” Life seems so short, especially when we, by our own mismanagement and negligence, waste the precious hours that are at our disposal.
Those who study the Gospels observe that Jesus during the three years of his earthly ministry never seemed hurried, never appeared to be under pressure, never expressed a sense of being overwhelmed. Not once did he say, “I don’t have time.” In fact, he gives us a breathtaking invitation in Matthew’s Gospel: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:28-30).
Note the words, “Learn from me.” From his example we can learn how to live so that every moment counts, how to be relaxed and not feel weary and rushed, how to avoid making things worse by our own sinful behavior. David prayed that he might “smile again” before his life had ended (vs. 13). If we learn to walk with the one who promised to give us rest and put into practice what he teaches us, we will indeed smile again and keep on smiling for the remainder of our lives.