Psalm 39

Kohelet (Ecclesiasted) taught “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” The Hebrew word popularly translated as “vanity” is hevel, which can also mean fleeting breath or vapor. The word hevel repeats in Psalm 39, as do phrases from the book of Job. This is a dark Psalm, in which the Psalmist grapples with the transience of life, personal suffering, struggles with silence, and ends with a most dramatic line to God: “Look away from me that I might catch my breath before I go forth and am no more.”