English Basic Explanation - Chapter 39
Chapter 39 ranks among the most somber of all the Psalms, vividly expressing the pain, anxiety and melancholy experienced by the author. Both the Radak and Ibn Ezra explain that David composed this chapter while suffering from a painful and debilitating illness, which caused him such discomfort and distress that he had to restrain himself from speaking harshly against God. He heroically remains silent in the face of suffering, accepting his condition and patiently awaiting salvation.
David's illness leads him to a solemn, pensive assessment of life. In a pair of verses (6-7) that bring to mind several timeless passages in his son Shelomo's Book of Kohelet, David acknowledges man's frailty and insignificance in relation to God. So uncertain is man's existence that a farmer harvests his grain without even knowing whether he will live to bring it into his home (verse 7). The advent of suffering and the prospect of death leads David to an honest, candid look at human life, and a recognition of man's weakness and limitations. In the final section of this Psalm, David petitions God to forgive his sins and allow him another chance in life.
This Psalm thus constitutes a brief statement concerning the proper approach to suffering. David does not purport to give a definitive explanation for suffering, and he acknowledges the instinctive drive to challenge divine justice during periods of pain and anguish. He demands, however, that a person overcome this natural tendency and approach suffering as a call to introspection and repentance. Rather than insist on his righteousness and cast allegations against God, one should instead recognize his frailty and shortcomings and appeal to the Almighty for compassion and forgiveness.