«I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart” (Psalm 38:8).
King David is, without a doubt, the biblical author who uses the richest linguistic resources to express both joy and praise, and the mental pain from which he himself suffers. It seems that king David was given a gift of high emotional sensitivity which made his spiritual life vibrant and meaningful. We must be very thankful for having received such a precious inheritance: David’s Psalms.
«The patriarch Job’s suffering was not related in any way to his moral behavior. However, David’s situation is different. On many occasions we notice that the burden of sin results in guilt which, in turn, leads to pain and anguish. An example is Psalm 38. In this poetical composition, probably written after disobeying the divine guidelines, David expresses that pain spread out to his flesh, bones, head . . . (vv. 3-4). He speaks of his festering wounds and of feeling bent down, humiliated, mournful, feeble and broken (vv. 5-8). David does not situate these symptoms in the purely physiological realm but in the heart (v. 8, 10), the place of feelings and emotions in the biblical language.
In this Psalm, David compared the effect of his sin to a heavy burden that overwhelms him (v. 4). He uses the same word in other places, too; for example, he talks about the burden through which God can test our strength of character (Ps. 66:11), and, of course, the burden we can cast on God, being certain that He will take charge of the situation and support us (Ps. 55:22).
The story is told that, on an isolated and savage road, some peasant women were carrying some heavy loads on their heads, shoulders and backs. A truck passed by them and was going in the same direction they were heading. As there was enough space in the truck to transport the women, the driver decided to invite them to get into the vehicle to make their journey easier. When they started moving, the driver turned around to make sure that everything was all right when he noticed that even though the women were already seated, they still kept carrying their heavy load. He immediately asked why and they cried out:
«You’re doing enough for us, it’s not fair that you also carry our burdens!»
Sometimes, we have the same attitude toward the Lord: we do not confess our sin as David did in this Psalm (v. 18), and we do not accept His invitation, «Cast your burden on the Lord» (Ps. 55:22; Matt. 11:28-29).