To Be Right with God is Priceless!

Title: To Be Right with God is Priceless!

Bible Book: Psalms 39 : 1-13

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: Confession; Repentance



Dr. Elon Foster (1833-1898) tells, “That eloquent statesman Henry Clay had just propagated a political scheme to an associate. ‘It will ruin you prospects for the presidency,’ suggested his friend. ‘Is it right?’ said Mr. Clay. ‘Yes,’ was the answer. Mr. Clay continued, ‘I would rather be right than president.’”[1]

We should desire to be right with God than anything this world offers. To be right with God is priceless! This is the thesis of our message based on Psalm 39. David is the human writer of Psalm 39. Dr. John Phillips (1927-2010) states, “There is no doubt David was wealthy. He had amassed a vast fortune for the building of the temple alone. That part of his wealth was earmarked in his will for the Lord's work and on his deathbed he charged Solomon that he must not touch it except for that purpose. But David was independently rich. The scribe tells us, in recording David's death, that ‘he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour’ (1 Chronicles 29:28). But in his sickness he saw things in a sharper focus. He saw men laboring for wealth and as a result living lives of unreality and unrest, all made worse by materialism and mortality, living for what he calls ‘a vain show.’”[2]

We discover three movements in this particular psalm.

I. First, we see David resolving to restrain himself.

Renowned Bible commentators, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown reveal the word translated “said” means “resolved”.[3]

We read in Psalm 39:1-3a, “I said, ‘I will guard my ways, / Lest I sin with my tongue; / I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, / While the wicked are before me.’ I was mute with silence, / I held my peace even from good; / And my sorrow was stirred up. My heart was hot within me; / While I was musing, the fire burned.”

Drs. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, explain, “Like Job, he must restrain the temptation to charge God with foolishness. The presence of the wicked suggests an outside source of temptation and the possibility of doing great harm to the cause of the righteous by public complaining.”[4]

Note David’s Humility. Drs. H. Franklin Paschall and Herschel H. Hobbs title this psalm “A Humble Prayer for Understanding”.[5] David’s “I will[s]” are different from those of Lucifer recorded in Isaiah 14:12-15, where we read, “How you are fallen from heaven, / O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, / You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; / I will also sit on the mount of the congregation / On the farthest sides of the north; / I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, / I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, / To the lowest depths of the Pit.” Of course, Lucifer, meaning “light bearer” is another name of the devil or Satan. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

We read in Proverbs 3:34, “Surely He scorns the scornful, / But gives grace to the humble.” James writes in James 4:6, “God resists the proud, / But gives grace to the humble.” Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:5, “God resists the proud, / But gives grace to the humble.”

Note David’s Honesty. There is no pride or pretense in David as he writes Psalm 38 and 39. We also read in Psalm 38:13-14, “But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; / And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth. Thus I am like a man who does not hear, / And in whose mouth is no response.”

Peter cites Isaiah 53:9, as he declares the following truth about our Lord Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 2:22, “Who committed no sin, / Nor was deceit found in His mouth”.

Paul writes in Ephesians 4:29-32, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe states, “There is ‘a time to keep silence, and a time to speak’ (Eccl. 3:7), and wise is the person who knows the difference.”[6]

President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

When my maternal grandfather taught me to drive his 1962 Ford Ranchero on a gravel road in the Mississippi Delta, he showed me the brake first. At that time it seemed strange that he would point out the brake first. Why not the accelerator?

Some people pride themselves in the fact that they say the first thing that comes to their mind. Oh, how we wish someone could encourage them to use the brake!

II. Second, we see David requesting to reconcile himself.

We read in Psalm 39:3b-7, “Then I spoke with my tongue: ‘Lord, make me to know my end, / And what is the measure of my days, / That I may know how frail I am. Indeed, / You have made my days as handbreadths, / And my age is as nothing before You; / Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah / Surely every man walks about like a shadow; / Surely they busy themselves in vain; / He heaps up riches, / And does not know who will gather them. ‘And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.”

A. David acknowledges the vaporous nature of Life (vv. 5, 11)

We read in Psalm 62:9, “Surely men of low degree are a vapor, / Men of high degree are a lie; / If they are weighed on the scales, / They are altogether lighter than vapor.” James writes in James 4:14b, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” To comprehend the brevity of life is a necessary part of preparing to die. Someone quipped, “Life is short, death is sure, sin the cause and Christ the cure.”

B. David acknowledges the vain numbness of Life. (v. 6)

Dr. John Phillips states, “We may say almost that Psalm 39 has some of its roots in the book of Job and some of its fruits in the book of Ecclesiastes.”[7]

David’s son, Solomon, begins the book of Ecclesiastes as follows, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. ‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher;
’Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’” (Ecclesiastes 1:1).

Rev. Matthew Poole (1624-1679) summarizes Psalm 39:4-6, “[David] considereth the brevity and vanity of man's life.”[8]

David writes of “my hope” in verse 7. He also writes in Psalm 38:15, “For in You, O Lord, I hope; / You will hear, O Lord my God.”

III. Third, we see David repenting to relieve himself.

Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) comments, “There is no solid satisfaction to be had in the creature; but it is to be found in the Lord, and in communion with him; to him we should be driven by our disappointments. If the world be nothing but vanity, may God deliver us from having or seeking our portion in it. When creature-confidences fail, it is our comfort that we have a God to go to, a God to trust in. We may see a good God doing all, and ordering all events concerning us; and a good man, for that reason, says nothing against it. He desires the pardoning of his sin, and the preventing of his shame. We must both watch and pray against sin. When under the correcting hand of the Lord, we must look to God himself for relief, not to any other.”[9]

We read in Psalm 39:8-13, “Deliver me from all my transgressions; / Do not make me the reproach of the foolish. I was mute, I did not open my mouth, / Because it was You who did it. Remove Your plague from me; / I am consumed by the blow of Your hand. When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, / You make his beauty melt away like a moth; / Surely every man is vapor. Selah / ‘Hear my prayer, O Lord, / And give ear to my cry; / Do not be silent at my tears; / For I am a stranger with You, / A sojourner, as all my fathers were. Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, / Before I go away and am no more.”

A. David’s Sin “transgressions” (v. 8) and “iniquity” (v. 11)

Dr. J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988) shares the following: “William [Makepeace] Thackeray [1811-1863], an English novelist and a Christian, wrote a novel called Vanity Fair.” Dr. McGee confessed, “I enjoyed that book. It is a brilliant satire on a little group of people, a clique that had its status symbols, played its little parts, and committed its little sins that are an awful stench in heaven. They lived and died with their littleness and their bickerings. That's life!”[10]

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explains, “We don't know the particular sins that had brought this stroke from the Lord, and we don't have to know.”[11]

When we sin we must remember Hebrews 12:5-11, where we read, “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, / Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; / For whom the Lord loves He chastens, / And scourges every son whom He receives.’ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

B. David’s Suffering “plague” (v. 10)

Dr. Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) states in The Problem of Pain, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to arouse a deaf world."[12]

We read about God’s chastening in Psalm 38:3-11, “There is no soundness in my flesh / Because of Your anger, / Nor any health in my bones / Because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; / Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds are foul and festering / Because of my foolishness. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; / I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are full of inflammation, / And there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and severely broken; / I groan because of the turmoil of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before You; / And my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart pants, my strength fails me; / As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me. My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, And my relatives stand afar off.”

Sometimes people brag that they can sin and get away with it. There seems to be no consequence. Let me assure you that every genuine believer in the Lord Jesus Christ will suffer the chastening hand of God when he sins. If you sin and do not experience His chastening, you are not a child of God. It does not matter how many prayer meetings you attend, or how many Sunday School lessons you teach or how many sermon you preach, without chastening you are not a child of God. The purpose of God’s chastening is not for punishment but to help us to be right with Him.

C. David’s Sorrow “my sorrow” (v. 2) “my cry” and “my tears” (v. 12)

We read in Psalm 38:17-18, “For I am ready to fall, / And my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare my iniquity; / I will be in anguish over my sin.”

At another time we read in 2 Samuel 12:13a, “So David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’” David provides evidence of the depth of his repentance in Psalm 32 and 51. He reveals the reality of his repentance. The Scripture records many who said, “I have sinned” that did not repent. For example, Pharaoh (Exodus 9:27; 10:16), Balaam (Numbers 22:34), Achan (Joshua 7:20, 21), King Saul (I Samuel 15:24, 30), Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:4) said, “I have sinned”, but did not repent.

David’s son, Solomon, writes in Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, / But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Until you have confessed and forsaken your sins, you have not genuinely repented.

Paul writes about the Corinthian’s repentance in 2 Corinthians 7:2-12, where we read, “Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one. I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more. For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.”

There are two kinds of sorrow, namely, “a godly sorrow” and “the sorrow of the world.” The outcome of “a godly sorrow” is genuine repentance, while the result of “the sorrow of the world” is just regret.

Later in his life, David said, “I have sinned” in 2 Samuel 24:10 concerning his command to take a census. Every thought, word, and deed motivated by “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and [/or] the pride of life” (1 John 2:16b) is sin. Therefore, no matter how innocent these thoughts, words, and deeds may appear, they must be confessed and forsaken with genuine repentance for us to be right with God.

Dr. Luke writes in Acts 13:22, “And when [God] had removed [Saul], He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’”


Although David was a rich man, he knew the value of a right relationship with God. David was a righteous man. While a righteous man is not sinless, he desires to be blameless.

Dr. Elon Foster shares, “Daniel Webster [1782-1852] was once asked, ‘What is the most important thought you ever entertained?’ He replied, after a moments reflection, ‘The most important thought I ever had was my individual responsibility to God.’”[13]

To be right with God is priceless!

 [1]Elon Foster, “# 5115,” Cyclopedia of Prose Illustrations Adapted to Christian Teaching, First Series, (New York: Funk & Wagnall, 1872), p.566

 [2]John Phillips, The John Phillips Commentary Series – Exploring Psalms, Volume One: An Expository Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1988), p. 301, Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

 [3]Rev. Robert Jamieson, D.D.., Rev. A.R. Fausset, A.M, & Rev. David Brown, D.D., Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary: Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Edinburgh: Collins & Company, 1871), Database © 2005 WORDsearch Corp.

 [4]The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, (Chicago, IL: The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1962, 1990), p. 510. Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.

 [5]The Teacher's Bible Commentary: A concise, thorough interpretation of the entire Bible designed especially for Sunday School teachers, eds. H. Franklin Paschall and Herschel H. Hobbs, (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1972), p. 308, Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

 [6]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary -- Old Testament – Wisdom and Poetry, (Wheaton: Victor Books/SP Publications, Inc., 1989, 2004), p. 169, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

 [7]John Phillips, The John Phillips Commentary Series – Exploring Psalms, Volume One: An Expository Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1988), p. 297, Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

 [8]Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

 [9]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, (1706), Database WORDsearch Corp.

 [10]J. Vernon McGee, “Psalm 39:6,” Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984), WORDsearch Corp.

 [11]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary -- Old Testament – Wisdom and Poetry, (Wheaton: Victor Books/SP Publications, Inc., 1989, 2004), p. 170, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

 [12]Clive Staples Lewis, The Problem of Pain, (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1950), p. 81

 [13]Elon Foster, “# 5004,” Cyclopedia of Prose Illustrations Adapted to Christian Teaching, First Series, (New York: Funk & Wagnall, 1872), p.557

 By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / [email protected] / (251) 626-6210

© July 29, 2012 All Rights Reserved

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