PSALMS 38      Other translations  -  previous  -  next  -  meaning  -  Psalms  -  BM Home  -  Full Page


A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance.

  1. O jehovah, rebuke me not in your anger, and chasten me not in your wrath.
  2. For your arrows penetrate me, and your hand presses upon me.
  3. There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation, nor peace in my bones because of my sin.
  4. For mine iniquities are gone over my head; as a weighty burden they are too heavy for me.
  5. My wounds stink, they are putrid, because of my foolishness.
  6. I am bent and bowed down greatly, I go mourning all the day.
  7. For my loins are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh.
  8. I am enfeebled and exceedingly broken; I roar by reason of the disquietness of my heart.
  9. O lord, all my desire is before you, and my groaning is not hidden from you.
  10. My heart is greatly agitated; my strength fails me; and even the light of mine eyes is not with me.
  11. My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my neighbours stand afar off.
  12. And they that seek my soul lay snares, and they that intend my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceit all the day.
  13. And I am as a deaf man that hears not; and as a dumb man that opens not his mouth.
  14. And I am as a man that does not hear; and in whose mouth are no reproofs.
  15. For in you, O jehovah, do I hope; you will answer O lord my god.
  16. Truly I speak, lest they should rejoice over me; when my foot is moved, they magnify themselves against me.
  17. For I am ready to fall, and my grief is continually before me,
  18. For I will declare mine iniquity; I am troubled for my sin.
  19. And mine enemies are lively; they are strong; and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.
  20. They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries, because I follow what is good.
  21. Forsake me not, O jehovah; O my god, be not far from me.
  22. Make haste to help me, O lord my salvation.

The Internal Sense

The grievousness of the lord's temptations described, verses 1 to 10; that they of the church seek his life, verses 11, 12; that he bears all with patience, verses 13, 14; his trust in the Father that the infernals will not prevail, verses 9, 15 to 22.


Verse 3. Nor peace in my bones because of my sin. There is no peace belonging to those who are in evils and falses; it appears indeed as if they were in peace when they succeed in the world, and they also seem to themselves on such occasions to be of a contented mind; but this apparent peace is only in things the most external, whilst interiorly there is no peace; for they think of honour and gain without an end, and cherish in their minds cunning, deceit, enmity, hatred, revenge, and many similar evils, which, whilst they are not aware of it, distract and devour the interiors of their mind, and thence also the interiors of the body; that this is the case appears clearly with them after death, when they come into those interiors, on which occasion the delights of their mind are changed into the contrary, as may be manifest from what is shown in the work on heaven and hell, HH 485 to 490. AE 365.

Verses 4, 5, 7. For mine iniquities are gone over my head, etc. Disease denotes evil, because in its internal sense are signified such things as affect the spiritual life; the diseases, which affect that life are evils, and are called lusts and cravings: charity and faith constitute spiritual life, which life sickens when the false takes place of the truth which is of faith, and evil takes place of the good which is of charity, for these things [the false and evil] bring that life to death, which is called spiritual death, and is damnation, as diseases bring the natural life to its death; hence it is that by disease in the internal sense is signified evil, as in Moses, "If you shall reject my statutes, and if your soul shall loathe my judgements that you will not do all my precepts, whilst you make my covenant of none effect, I will visit upon you with terror, with consumption, and with a burning fever, which shall consume the eyes and torment the soul," Lev 26:15, 16. And in David, "Mine iniquities have gone over my head, my wounds are putrid and corrupt, because of my foolishness, for my loins are filled with burning, there is no soundness in my flesh," Psalm 38:4, 5, 7. Inasmuch as by diseases are signified the corruptions and evils of spiritual life, therefore by the various kinds of diseases are signified the various kinds of corruptions and evils of that life. AC 8364.

Verse 5. My wounds stink, they are putrid because of my foolishness. Wounds denote evils of the will, which are evil works, which are said to stink and be putrid because of foolishness, when it is the delight of the will and thence of the thought to do them. AE 962.

Verse 6. I go mourning [in black] all the day. For the proper meaning of mourning, see note at verse 14 of chap. xxxv. AE 372.

Verses 5,7,11. My woundburningplague. All diseases belonging to man have correspondence with the spiritual world; for whatever in universal nature has not correspondence with the spiritual world, it has not existence, having no cause from which it can exist, consequently from which it can subsist; the things which are in nature, are nothing but effects, their causes are in the spiritual world, and the causes of those causes, which are ends, are in the interior heaven. An effect cannot subsist, unless the cause be continually in it, for on the cessation of the cause the effect ceases; an effect considered in itself is nothing but the cause, but the cause so intrinsically clothed, as may serve to enable it to act as a cause in an inferior sphere; and as the case is with an effect in respect to the cause, so also is it with the cause in respect to the end; unless the cause also exist from its cause, which is the end, it is not a cause, for a cause without end is a cause in no order, and where there is no order, there is not any thing effected. Hence then it is evident, that an effect considered in itself is a cause, and that a cause considered in itself is an end, and that the end of good is in heaven, and proceeds from the lord, consequently that an effect is not an effect unless the cause be in it, and be continually in it, and that a cause is not a cause, unless the end be in it, and be continually in it; and that an end is not an end of good, unless the Divine [principle] which proceeds from the lord be in it. Hence also it is evident, that all and singular things in the world, as they have existed from the divine [being or principle], exist also from the divine [being or principle.] AC 5711.

These observations are made in order that it may be known, that diseases also have correspondence with the spiritual world, not correspondence with heaven, which is the grand man, but with those who are in the opposite, thus with those who are in the hells. By the spiritual world in the universal sense is meant both heaven and hell, for man, when he dies, passes out of the natural world into the spiritual world. The reason why diseases have correspondence with those who are in the hells is because diseases correspond to the lusts and passions of the mind (animus), these therefore are the origins of diseases; for the origins of diseases in common are intemperance, luxuries of various kinds, pleasures merely corporeal, also envyings, hatreds, revenges, lasciviousness, and the like, which destroy the interiors of man, and when these are destroyed, the exteriors suffer, and draw man into disease, and thereby into death; that man is subject to death by reason of evils, or on account of sin, is a thing known in the church, thus also he is subject to diseases, for these are of death. From these considerations it may be manifest, that diseases also have correspondence with the spiritual world, but with unclean things there, for diseases in themselves are unclean, inasmuch as they originate in things unclean, according to what was said above. AC 5712.

All the infernals induce diseases, but with a difference, by reason that all the hells are in the lusts and cravings of evil, consequently contrary to those things which are of heaven, wherefore they act upon (or into) man from an opposite principle; heaven, which is the grand man, contains all things in connection and safety; hell, as being in the opposite principle, destroys and rends all things to pieces; consequently if the infernals are applied, they induce diseases, and at length death. But it is not permitted them to flow-in even into the solid parts of the body, or into the parts which constitute the viscera, the organs, and members of man, but only into the lusts and falsities: only when man falls into disease, they then flow-in into such unclean things as appertain to the disease; for, as was said, nothing in any wise exists with man, unless the cause also be in the spiritual world; the natural principle belonging to man, if it was separated from a spiritual principle, would be separated from all cause of existence, thus also from every principle of life. Nevertheless this is no hindrance to man's being healed naturally, for the Divine Providence concurs with such means of healing. That the case is thus, has been given to know by much experience, and this so frequently and of so long continuance, as not to leave a doubt remaining; for evil spirits from such places have been often and for a long time applied to me, and according to their presence they induced pains, and also diseases; it was shown me where they were, and what was their quality, and it was also told me whence they were. AC 5713.

Verse 12. And they that seek my soul lay snares. That a snare in the spiritual world is enticement and deception by the delights of the love of self and of the world, thus the enticement and deception of evils, and this by reasonings grounded in the fallacies of the senses, which favour those delights, is evident to every one, for ensnarings and entrappings are from no other source: neither do the diabolical crew assault any thing else with man except those his loves, which they render delightful by every method, until he is taken, and when he is taken, the man reasons from falses against truths, and from evils against goods; and in such case he is not content herewith, but also takes delight in ensnaring and enticing others to falses and evils; the reason why he also takes this delight is because in such case he is one of the diabolical crew. AC 9348.

The Translator's Notes and Observations

Verse 1. O jehovah, rebuke me not in your anger, and chasten me not in your wrath. Is it asked in what sense the passions of anger and wrath are here ascribed to jehovah, and what is the difference between them, and further, what is the proper distinction between the rebuke of anger and the chastisement of wrath? It is impossible to give a satisfactory answer to these questions, until it be first seriously considered, that jehovah ever was and ever will be the purest mercy and love, and that when anger and wrath are ascribed to him, it is merely from appearance, or because to a wicked and thoughtless person he seems to be angry and wrathful, whenever his own pure laws of mercy and wisdom are opposed and violated by the sin and folly of mankind. According to this idea, the rebuke of anger is imputed to the almighty, whenever his mercy's thwarted by the evils of man's will; and again, the chastisement of wrath is imputed to him, whenever the benevolent and wise counsels of his wisdom are made light of and rejected by the false principles which naturally prevail in man's understanding. Let man then only oppose evil and error in himself through the divine power with which he is continually supplied for that blessed purpose, and from that moment he will begin to rise out of and above appearances, and to rejoice in the delightful acknowledgement of the eternal truth, that God is love and must ever remain so.

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