Psalm 38

38A: Rebuke Me Not in Anger, LORD

Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1080 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.
  • The following article is from the Psalter Hymnal Handbook.

Text Information:

A penitent prayer for restoration from severe illness and for deliverance from the opportunistic attacks of enemies.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-4
st. 2 = vv. 5-8
st. 3 = vv. 9-12
st. 4 = vv. 13-16
st. 5 = vv. 17-20
st. 6 = vv. 21-22

Psalm 38 is one of the traditional penitential psalms (along with 6, 32, 51, 102, 130, and 143). Though the occasion is unknown, the author of Psalm 38 recognizes in a debilitating illness the chastising hand of God for some sin (st. 1). The prayer moves from humble confessions of guilt (st. 1, 2, 5) to a lament over the illness that repels friends and attracts enemies (st. 2-4). Utterly weak and in pain, the psalmist waits on the LORD for help, renews the lament and confession of sin (st. 5), and prays for God to "come quickly" and "help" (st. 6). Helen Otte wrote this versification in 1985 for the Psalter Hymnal.

Liturgical Use:
Serves well as a confession of sin, but may also be used in the context of sickness or other humbling circumstances–whenever God's people want to cry out, "Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my Savior."

Other Resources:

  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.

Copyright Information:

  • Words: Helen Otte (b. 1931), 1985, © 1987 Faith Alive Christian Resources
  • Music (CHICKAHOMINY 8.8.8.8): Henry Bryan Hays, O. S. B. (b. 1920), 1981, alt. © 1981 Order of St. Benedict, Inc., admin. Liturgical Press
  • Reprint Information: