Today's psalm, which opens the second Nocturn of Tenebrae for Good Friday, is one of the seven penitential psalms.
Psalm 37 deals with an unfashionable consequence of sin, namely punishment, and particularly the willing acceptance of suffering here and now as punishment for sin.
The Christological explanation of the psalm views the verses about the speaker’s afflicted and troubled state, and sense of weakness, as concerning the Agony in the Garden. The statement that friends and neighbours stood against him, as references to Our Lord’s betrayal and then the flight of the Apostles; and the descriptions of false testimony and plotting against him as the attempts of the Jewish leaders to fabricate a case against Our Lord. Above all though, the verses dealing with the speaker’s response to the attacks on him: his becoming deaf and dumb as a prophesy of Our Lord’s refusal to offer a defense before Herod and Caiaphas, and his subsequent scourging.
Here Our Lord accepts the punishment on our behalf even though he is totally innocent for through Our Lord’s betrayal and suffering, he expiates the sins of us all.
It should act as a prompt for us to do penance on behalf of others as well as for our own sins.
Psalm 37 (38)
Domine, ne in furore tuo arguas me, neque in ira tua corripias me:
quoniam sagittæ tuæ infixæ sunt mihi, et confirmasti super me manum tuam.
Non est sanitas in carne mea, a facie iræ tuæ; non est pax ossibus meis, a facie peccatorum meorum:
quoniam iniquitates meæ supergressæ sunt caput meum, et sicut onus grave gravatæ sunt super me.
Putruerunt et corruptæ sunt cicatrices meæ, a facie insipientiæ meæ.
Miser factus sum et curvatus sum usque in finem; tota die contristatus ingrediebar.
Quoniam lumbi mei impleti sunt illusionibus, et non est sanitas in carne mea.
Afflictus sum, et humiliatus sum nimis; rugiebam a gemitu cordis mei.
Domine, ante te omne desiderium meum, et gemitus meus a te non est absconditus.
Cor meum conturbatum est; dereliquit me virtus mea, et lumen oculorum meorum, et ipsum non est mecum.
Amici mei et proximi mei adversum me appropinquaverunt, et steterunt; et qui juxta me erant, de longe steterunt : et vim faciebant qui quærebant animam meam.
Et qui inquirebant mala mihi, locuti sunt vanitates, et dolos tota die meditabantur.
Ego autem, tamquam surdus, non audiebam; et sicut mutus non aperiens os suum.
Et factus sum sicut homo non audiens, et non habens in ore suo redargutiones.
Quoniam in te, Domine, speravi; tu exaudies me, Domine Deus meus.
Quia dixi : Nequando supergaudeant mihi inimici mei; et dum commoventur pedes mei, super me magna locuti sunt.
Quoniam ego in flagella paratus sum, et dolor meus in conspectu meo semper.
Quoniam iniquitatem meam annuntiabo, et cogitabo pro peccato meo.
Inimici autem mei vivunt, et confirmati sunt super me : et multiplicati sunt qui oderunt me inique.
Qui retribuunt mala pro bonis detrahebant mihi, quoniam sequebar bonitatem.
Ne derelinquas me, Domine Deus meus; ne discesseris a me.
Intende in adjutorium meum, Domine Deus salutis meæ.
And the English:
Rebuke me not, O Lord, in your indignation; nor chastise me in your wrath.
3 For your arrows are fastened in me: and your hand has been strong upon me.
4 There is no health in my flesh, because of your wrath: there is no peace for my bones, because of my sins.
5 For my iniquities have gone over my head: and as a heavy burden have become heavy upon me.
6 My sores are putrefied and corrupted, because of my foolishness.
7 I have become miserable, and am bowed down even to the end: I walked sorrowful all the day long.
8 For my loins are filled with illusions; and there is no health in my flesh.
9 I am afflicted and humbled exceedingly: I roared with the groaning of my heart.
10 Lord, all my desire is before you, and my groaning is not hidden from you.
11 My heart is troubled, my strength has left me, and the light of my eyes itself is not with me.
12 My friends and my neighbours have drawn near, and stood against me. And they that were near me stood afar off:
13 And they that sought my soul used violence. And they that sought evils to me spoke vain things, and studied deceits all the day long.
14 But I, as a deaf man, heard not: and as a dumb man not opening his mouth.
15 And I became as a man that hears not: and that has no reproofs in his mouth.
16 For in you, O Lord, have I hoped: you will hear me, O Lord my God.
17 For I said: Lest at any time my enemies rejoice over me: and whilst my feet are moved, they speak great things against me.
18 For I am ready for scourges: and my sorrow is continually before me.
19 For I will declare my iniquity: and I will think for my sin.
20 But my enemies live, and are stronger than I: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.
21 They that render evil for good, have detracted me, because I followed goodness.
22 For sake me not, O Lord my God: do not depart from me.
23 Attend unto my help, O Lord, the God of my salvation.
Nocturn I: Psalms 2, 21, 26
Nocturn II: Psalms 37, 39, 53*
Nocturn III: Psalms 58, 87*, 93
Lauds: 50*, 142, 84, [Hab], 147