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Psalm 39

The Psalmist begins with self-control,

Psalm 39:1 (ESV)

I said, “I will guard my ways,

that I may not sin with my tongue;

I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,

so long as the wicked are in my presence.”

The reason is good, “that I may not sin with my tongue.”  As Spurgeon writes,

I steadily resolved and registered a determination. In his great perplexity his greatest fear was lest he should sin; and, therefore, he cast about for the most likely method for avoiding it, and he determined to be silent. It is right excellent when a man can strengthen himself in a good course by the remembrance of a well and wisely-formed resolve.

C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 27-57, vol. 2 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 214.  Now, perhaps this was repression as opposed to a godly determination: self-will as opposed to godly blessing when cursed; because,

Psalm 39:2–3 (ESV)

I was mute and silent;

I held my peace to no avail,

and my distress grew worse.

My heart became hot within me.

As I mused, the fire burned;

then I spoke with my tongue:

This moves the Psalmist on to a prayer which will provide the basis for his transformed affection: to learn how brief one lives:

Psalm 39:5–6 (ESV)

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

Surely a man goes about as a shadow!

Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;

man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

How our responses to our circumstances do not match reality: “Surely for nothing they are in turmoil”. Our affections are judgments upon our circumstance: we think our anger justified, necessary because some tremendous has taken place. We think our lust for power meaningful, our wealth and fame: but, “man goes about as a shadow”.