Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 39:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I said, I will take heed to my ways - I must be cautious because of my enemies; I must be patient because of my afflictions; I must be watchful over my tongue, lest I offend my God, or give my adversaries any cause to speak evil of me.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

I said - This refers to a resolution which he had formed. He does not say, however, at what time of his life the resolution was adopted, or how long a period had elapsed from the time when he formed the resolution to the time when he thus made a record of it. He had formed the resolution on some occasion when he was greatly troubled with anxious thoughts; when, as the subsequent verses show, his mind was deeply perplexed about the divine administration, or the dealings of God with mankind. It would seem that this train of thought was suggested by his own particular trials Psalm 39:9-10, from which he was led to reflect on the mysteries of the divine administration in general, and on the fact that man had been subjected by his Creator to so much trouble and sorrow - and that, under the divine decree, human life was so short and so vain.

I will take heed to my ways - To wit, in respect to this matter. I will be cautious, circumspect, prudent. I will not offend or pain the heart of others. The particular thing here referred to was, the resolution not to give utterance to the thoughts which were passing in his mind in regard to the divine administration. He felt that he was in danger, if he stated what he thought on the subject, of saying things which would do injury, or which he would have occasion to regret, and he therefore resolved to keep silent.

That I sin not with my tongue - That I do not utter sentiments which will be wrong, and which I shall have occasion to repent; sentiments which would do injury to those who are already disposed to find ground of complaint against God, and who would thus be furnished with arguments to confirm them in their views. Good men often have such thoughts passing through their minds; thoughts reflecting on the government of God as unequal and severe; thoughts which, if they were suggested, would tend to confirm the wicked and the skeptical in their views; thoughts which they hope, in respect to themselves, to be able to calm down by meditation and prayer, but which would do only unmitigated harm if they were communicated to other men, especially to wicked people.

I will keep my mouth with a bridle - The word used here means rather a “muzzle,” or something placed “over” the mouth. The bridle is to restrain or check or guide the horse; the muzzle was something to bind or fasten the mouth so as to prevent biting or eating. Deuteronomy 25:4: “thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” See the notes at 1 Corinthians 9:9. The meaning here is, that he would restrain himself from uttering what was passing in his mind.

While the wicked is before me - In their presence. He resolved to do this, as suggested above, lest if he should utter what was passing in his own mind - if he should state the difficulties in regard to the divine administration which he saw and felt - if he should give expression to the skeptical or hard thoughts which occurred to him at such times, it would serve only to confirm them in their wickedness, and strengthen them in their alienation from God. A similar state of feeling, and on this very subject, is referred to by the psalmist Psalm 73:15, where he says that if he should utter what was really passing in his mind, it would greatly pain and offend those who were the true children of God; would fill their minds with doubts and difficulties which might never occur to themselves: “If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I shall offend against the generation of thy children.” As illustrations of this state of feeling in the minds of good men, and as evidence of the fact that, as in the case of the psalmist, their existence in the mind, even in the severest and the most torturing form, is not proof that the man in whose bosom they arise is not a truly pious man, I make the following extracts as expressing the feelings of two of the most sincere and devoted Christian men that ever lived - both eminently useful, both in an eminent degree ornaments to the Church, Cecil and Payson: “I have read all the most acute, and learned, and serious infidel writers, and have been really surprised at their poverty. The process of my mind has been such on the subject of revelation, that I have often thought Satan has done more for me than the best of them, for I have had, and could have produced, arguments that appeared to me far more weighty than any I ever found in them against revelation.” - Cecil. Dr. Payson says in a letter to a friend: “There is one trial which you cannot know experimentally: it is that of being obliged to preach to others when one doubts of everything, and can scarcely believe that there is a God. All the atheistical, deistical, and heretical objections which I meet with in books are childish babblings compared with those which Satan suggests, and which he urges upon the mind with a force which seems irresistible. Yet I am often obliged to write sermons, and to preach when these objections beat upon me like a whirlwind, and almost distract me.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
If an evil thought should arise in the mind, suppress it. Watchfulness in the habit, is the bridle upon the head; watchfulness in acts, is the hand upon the bridle. When not able to separate from wicked men, we should remember they will watch our words, and turn them, if they can, to our disadvantage. Sometimes it may be necessary to keep silence, even from good words; but in general we are wrong when backward to engage in edifying discourse. Impatience is a sin that has its cause within ourselves, and that is, musing; and its ill effects upon ourselves, and that is no less than burning. In our greatest health and prosperity, every man is altogether vanity, he cannot live long; he may die soon. This is an undoubted truth, but we are very unwilling to believe it. Therefore let us pray that God would enlighten our minds by his Holy Spirit, and fill our hearts with his grace, that we may be ready for death every day and hour.
Ellen G. White
Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, 410

You may look surprised at this, but it is a species of swearing to be constantly irritated and irritating others by your faultfinding and gloomy reflections. These fits of indigestion are trying, but hold fast to the bridle that you will not swear to those who are your best friends or to those who are your enemies.—Letter 11, 1897. 2MCP 410.1

Assurance of God's Approval—The assurance of God's approval will promote physical health. It fortifies the soul against doubt, perplexity, and excessive grief that so often sap the vital forces and induce nervous diseases of a most debilitating and distressing character. The Lord has pledged His unfailing word that His eye shall be over the righteous and His ear open to their prayer.—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 270, 271 (1915). 2MCP 410.2

Connection Between Sin and Disease—There is a divinely appointed connection between sin and disease. No physician can practice for a month without seeing this illustrated. He may ignore the fact; his mind may be so occupied with other matters that his attention will not be called to it; but if he will be observing and honest, he cannot help acknowledging that sin and disease bear to each other the relationship of cause and effect. The physician should be quick to see this and to act accordingly. 2MCP 410.3

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Ellen G. White
Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, 577.2

Weed Out Every Careless Word—Remember that by your words you shall be justified, and by your words condemned. The tongue needs bridling. The words you speak are seeds sown, which produce fruit either good or evil. Now is your sowing time. 2MCP 577.2

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 312.3

Some have said to me, “Do you not get discouraged at times when you are under trial?” And I have answered, “Yes, if by discouragement you mean sad or cast down.” “Didn't you talk to any one of your feelings?” “No; there is a time for silence, a time to keep the tongue as with a bridle, and I was determined to utter no word of doubt or darkness, to bring no shade of gloom upon those with whom I was associated. I have said to myself, I will bear the Refiner's fire; I shall not be consumed. When I speak, it shall be of light; it shall be of faith and hope in God; it shall be of righteousness, of goodness, of the love of Christ my Saviour; it shall be to direct the minds of others toward heaven and heavenly things, to Christ's work in heaven for us, and our work upon earth for Him.” OHC 312.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 156

Your work has been such as to open to many souls the door of temptation, and many will be lost in consequence. You may reform, you may see your mistakes, but you will never be able to remove the impression that has been made. TSB 156.1

Reproof for Familiarity With the Opposite Sex—Brother O, you are watched with critical eyes. Your attention to young ladies is not called for. You are out of place in giving so much attention to the P family. Mrs. P has done her work in ruining one good man. That matter was opened before me as an open book. I was told in the night season that you were not qualified to be entrusted with large or even limited responsibilities unless you repent and become a reformed man. God cannot be with you while you pursue this course. My guide told me to follow, and I was shown your boyish familiarity with girls, and your particular sympathy toward Mrs. P and her daughters. The mother keeps [to] the bed much of the time when she should be engaged in some useful employment in the care of her family. TSB 156.2

Your familiarities with the mother and daughters were opened before me. Your attentions and your gifts speak louder than even your flattering words. You are displeasing God, and Heaven looks upon you with reproof.... Had you a new heart, your motives, actions, and course of conduct would be such that both believers and unbelievers might have an example of a Christlike character. I have seen your case as God sees it, and I now present it to you. Better, far better, would it have been had you disconnected from the Health Retreat some months ago. TSB 156.3

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