Psalm 38 is excruciatingly painful, a powerful display of the Bible’s range of emotions.
There is a distinction between the blues, which is a natural part of life, and clinical depression, which is dangerous and more rare. Here the Psalter says, “I am benumbed and crushed greatly, I roar because of the turmoil of my heart.” That roar is understood as an internal cry, for we also read, “I am as if dumb, unable to open my mouth.” The anguish is also due to extreme physical ailments, “My wounds stink; they fester because of my foolishness.” This Psalm raises religious questions: “What is God’s role in our physical suffering? and, How much are physical maladies self-inflicted and psycho-spiritual at their root? This Psalm sensitizes us to the inner suffering of others and challenges us to consider how do we find relief from feelings of isolation and physical pain.