My iniquities flood o'er me,
and before me
all my sins are a burden.
My wounds fester without healing,
I am reeling
from my mad and foolish ways.
I am bowed low in my grieving,
that I'll cease from my mourning.
For my loins are racked with burning
from your spurning;
there's no soundness in my flesh.
The author of the psalm appears to be conflicted, sounding different, and not entirely consistent, themes throughout. On the one hand, he recognizes and confesses his own sin and its role in his current state of suffering. Yet he also believes he has been unjustly abandoned by his friends, who fear to suffer his fate along with him:
Foes oppose me without reason
in their treason,
they are many and mighty.
Those who answer good with evil
enemies are they of right.
This psalm, which is ascribed to David in the Hebrew, could relate to episodes in the great Hebrew ruler's life when he was fleeing from enemies plotting his demise, including his wayward sons whom he proved unable to control. A not altogether able administrator, David was undoubtedly painfully aware of his own shortcomings in the unfolding of these episodes, while nevertheless protesting against his betrayers.
On the other hand, a christological interpretation might see this psalm expressing the words of Christ, who, while not sinful himself, bore the sins of the world in his own suffering on the cross.
A word about the tune, which has a metrical structure unusual even for the Genevan psalms: 847 847. The rhyming scheme is aab ccd, with the short four-syllable lines rhyming with the previous eight-syllable line. The traditional rhyming scheme has rhymed lines 3 and 6, despite their having feminine and masculine endings respectively. Consequently, I have abandoned any effort to rhyme these lines in my own versification, which I believe makes the psalm more singable.
This psalm of lament ends, if not on an upbeat note, at least on a note of expectation of future redemption:
LORD above, do not forsake me,
rather make me
to be near you for ever.
Hurry to become my saviour;
show your favour
to me, my redeeming LORD.