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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

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Commentary on Psalms

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Ps. 39 :

A meditation on the brevity of human life (cf. Pss. 90; 102 ), with the hope that the short time the psalmist has to live will be spent in God's favor. This psalm has some commonality with Ps. 38 (admission that suffering is the result of sin, being “dumb”), but it does not emphasize physical suffering. It also shares major themes with Eccl.: the idea of the brevity of life, expressed by the term “hevel,” “a breath,” (see the refrain in vv. 6 and 12 ), a questioning of the purpose of life, and the conclusion that people should use their time in the service of God.

1 :

Jeduthun was a famous Temple musician; see 1 Chron. 16.42; 25.6; Pss. 62; 77 .

2–5 :

Avoidance of sins of speech is a common concern of Psalms. Here, speech would challenge God or express anger at His actions against the psalmist, so the psalmist keeps silent as long as he can (cf. v. 10 ); but at last he speaks out, asking God how long he has to live, that is, how long he must bear his suffering. (Cf. Job, who does not hesitate to challenge God.)

6 :

Selah (also v. 11 ), see 3.3 n.

7 :

For the theme of one's wealth left for others, see 49.17–18; Eccl. 2.18–19 .

8 :

Given that life is short and unpredictable, the only durable hope is faith in God, which the psalmist professes. This faith should lead God to forgive his sins and remove his punishment.

12 :

Here and in v. 7 the suffering seems to be financial loss rather than illness.

13 :

An alien, resident, a resident alien, a legal term (see Lev. 25.23; 1 Chron. 29.15 ) used metaphorically to mean that the psalmist resides only temporarily and conditionally with God.

14 :

Look away from me, stop punishing me. Am gone, there is no thought of an afterlife in Psalms.

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