Psalms – Chapter 38

Hang in There, David!

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

David now returns to the subject of the illness he suffered as a result of his sins. (See Psalm 6, et al.) He asks that G-d not punish him in anger and rage. David’s symptoms are like arrows from G-d in him and he can feel G-d’s metaphorical “hand” pushing him down. Every part of David’s body has been stricken in this punishment; he is overwhelmed by his pains. He has disgusting sores as a consequence of his actions – how foolish one must be to sin! David’s body is bent from the burden of his disease – even his face looks different! His kidneys are afflicted – or possibly his mind is troubled, by the knowledge of his own shortcomings.

David is completely overcome by this disease. His heart groans within him. G-d is completely aware of all that David is enduring. He knows that David is bereft of all strength – even his vision is failing! (Strength and vision may both be used as metaphors for Torah.) David’s friends have abandoned him in his hour of need and even his relatives keep him at arm’s length. His former friends take advantage of the situation to lay traps for him. His enemies slander and antagonize him, but he remains deaf to their words and doesn’t respond. He’s so used to it, he doesn’t even think about them any more.

David has been waiting for G-d; He’s the One Who will reply on David’s behalf. David’s going to “hang in there” and hope for G-d, rather than give his enemies the satisfaction of seeing him die. But he’s hobbled by his illness and unable to ignore it. He thinks constantly about the sins that brought him to this state and the possibility of an imminent demise. David’s foes are enjoying good health. His betrayers harass him for seeking to do good, misrepresenting his deeds. David prays that G-d not abandon him. Rather, G-d should draw close to David and save him.

Download Audio File