Reflections on the fragility of life, and a prayer for God’s gracious removal of disciplinary illness.
st. 1 =vv. 1-3
st. 2 =vv. 4-6
st. 3 =vv. 7-9
st. 4 = vv. 10-11
st. 5 = vv. 12-13
The situation implied in this psalm is much like that suggested by Psalm 38: God is disciplining the psalmist because of some sin with an illness that invites "the scorn of fools" (v. 8). The psalmist tries to be silent in the presence of the wicked (st. 1) but cannot hold back. He speaks out on the fragility of life (st. 2) and then prays for deliverance from sin and its consequences (st. 3). In the same breath the psalmist prays to be saved from "the blow of [God's] hand" (v. 10), seeking removal of God's "discipline for sinning" (st. 4). The psalm closes with a plea for restoration to God's peace (st. 5), echoing the confession "My hope is in you" (v. 7). Calvin Seerveld (PHH 22) paraphrased this psalm of lament in 1983 for the Psalter Hymnal.
Occasions when the church marks the brevity of life (perhaps New Year's Eve services or funerals); also appropriate in the service of confession and forgiveness of sin.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook