As you are reading through the psalms, especially psalm 38, it might also be a good idea to dally in the book of Job. There is a great parallel between this psalm and the book of Job. Really starting at vs.6 and following you hear many Job like qualities: I am utterly bowed down and prostrate, I am utterly spent and crushed. Vs.11 is one that really speaks to what the reality of Job was as we read: My friends and my companions stand aloof from my affliction, and my neighbors stand far off. We find that happening in Job where his friends told him to confess the numerous sins he must have committed because he was so bad off, and even his wife told him to curse God and die.
We do not believe today that we are sick or that we suffer from ailments because we have somehow sinned against God. There is not a 1 to 1 correlation between our sin and God’s punishment against our bodies. It just doesn’t go together. But there is an undercurrent in much Christian thought that illness and disease is somehow related to our faith. We need to push that away from our mindset.
But the author moves away from speaking of his physical ailments to beseeching the Lord in vs. 21-22 to not forsake him, to not be far from him, to hurry up and help him, because the Lord is, after all, our salvation.