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To the Director: To Jeduthun. A Davidic Psalm.

A Prayer about Life’s Priorities

39 I told myself, “I will keep watch over my tongue to keep from sinning.
    I will muzzle my mouth when the wicked are around.”
I was as silent as a mute person;
    I said nothing, not even something good,
        and my distress deepened.
My heart within me became incensed;[a]
    as I thought about it, the fire burned.

Then I[b] spoke out:
Lord, let me know how my life ends,[c]
    and the standard by which you will measure[d] my days, whatever it is!
        Then I will know how transient my life is.
Look, you have made my life span fit in your hand;
    It is nothing compared to yours.
        Surely every person at their best is a puff of wind.
In fact, people walk around as shadows.
    Surely, they busy themselves for nothing,
        heaping up possessions but not knowing who will get them.
How long, Lord, will I wait expectantly?
    I have placed my hope in you.
Deliver me from all my transgressions,
    and do not let fools scorn me.”

I remain silent;
    I do not open my mouth,
        for you are the one who acted.
10 Stop scourging me,
    since I have been crushed by your heavy hand.
11 You rebuke by chastening a man with the consequence of iniquities;
    you destroy what is attractive to him, as one would treat a moth.
        Indeed, every person is a puff of wind.

12 Hear my prayer, Lord,
    pay attention to my cry,
        and do not ignore my tears.
I am an alien in your presence,
    a stranger just like my ancestors were.
13 Stop looking at me with chastisement,[e] so I can smile again,
    before I depart and am no more.


  1. Psalm 39:3 Lit. hot
  2. Psalm 39:3 Lit. Then my mouth
  3. Psalm 39:4 Lit. my end
  4. Psalm 39:4 Lit. the measure of
  5. Psalm 39:13 The Heb. lacks with chastisement

Psalm 39[a]

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

I said, “I will watch my ways(A)
    and keep my tongue from sin;(B)
I will put a muzzle on my mouth(C)
    while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,(D)
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish(E) increased;
    my heart grew hot(F) within me.
While I meditated,(G) the fire(H) burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;(I)
    let me know how fleeting(J) my life is.(K)
You have made my days(L) a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,(M)
    even those who seem secure.[b]

“Surely everyone goes around(N) like a mere phantom;(O)
    in vain they rush about,(P) heaping up wealth(Q)
    without knowing whose it will finally be.(R)

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.(S)
Save me(T) from all my transgressions;(U)
    do not make me the scorn(V) of fools.
I was silent;(W) I would not open my mouth,(X)
    for you are the one who has done this.(Y)
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow(Z) of your hand.(AA)
11 When you rebuke(AB) and discipline(AC) anyone for their sin,
    you consume(AD) their wealth like a moth(AE)
    surely everyone is but a breath.(AF)

12 “Hear my prayer, Lord,
    listen to my cry for help;(AG)
    do not be deaf(AH) to my weeping.(AI)
I dwell with you as a foreigner,(AJ)
    a stranger,(AK) as all my ancestors were.(AL)
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
    before I depart and am no more.”(AM)


  1. Psalm 39:1 In Hebrew texts 39:1-13 is numbered 39:2-14.
  2. Psalm 39:5 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verse 11.