Weds 22 June - Psalm 6
1 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
3 My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?
4 Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from his grave?
6 I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.
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(Please note that from this week onwards we will be working sequentially through the remaining Psalms)
Meditation on Psalm 6
This psalm is designated as the first of seven penitential psalms - i.e. those psalms which are specially expressive of sorrow for sin. Penitence is feeling or expressing sorrow for sin or wrongdoing. It leads to repentance.
The other psalms designated as penitential psalms are 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143. Not every commentator agrees with these psalms as being the penitential psalms. However, each has three characteristics that are common to all.
- Each has a cry for help in the midst of present circumstances and situations.
- Each has a description of the desperate circumstances in which the psalmist finds himself.
- Each has a plea for help.
As we come to Psalm 6 just look at the words and phrases that David uses to describe his present situation.
- “I am faint”
- “My bones are in agony”
- “My soul is in deep anguish”
- “I am worn out from my groaning”
- “I flood my bed with tears”
- “My eyes grow weak with sorrow”
- “they fail because of my enemy”
Wait just a minute. Here is David, ‘a man God testified concerning him, “I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I tell him.”’ (Acts 13:22) Paul is quoting from 1 Samuel 13:14 where Samuel tells Saul, “now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought a man after His own heart and appointed him ruler of His people.”
Here is David seemingly in real trouble – physically, spiritually and emotionally.
And, what is more, it seems from his opening cry that God is not pleased with him; that God is angry with him. God seems distant from him and he seems to be losing his faith and trust.
We don’t know the cause of his troubles – again, there are different interpretations. What we do know is, that it hurts and David doesn’t know how long this hurt is going to go on for – “How long. LORD, how long?”
This is the heart-cry of a man who is really struggling.
It is the heart-cry of so many people down through the centuries, right up, and including, today, who are hurting physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Is this you? Is this me?
I am reminded of John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, where he describes the ‘Slough of Despond’.
‘This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended. it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore is it called the Slough of Despond: for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place; and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.'
Thankfully, in Pilgrim’s Progress, a man called Help comes and pulls Christian out of the Slough.
This may be a place that is real in our own experience but, as with Christian, so with us, we eventually come to the Cross and our burden is taken off us and we are lifted out of the Slough of Despond.
We also know from our New Testament that God often uses discipline with us but, as the writer to the Hebrews reminds us – ‘My children, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves and He chastens everyone He accepts as His child.’ (Hebrews 12:5-6) He is quoting from Proverbs 3:11-12
He then goes on in his letter to the Hebrews, ‘Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father…God disciplines us for our good in order that we may share in His holiness.’
And, as David comes to prayer about his present situation, he reminds himself, and us, of the ‘unfailing love of the LORD.’
He has moved on from ‘don’t rebuke me’ and ‘don’t discipline me’ to ‘turn and deliver me’ and ‘save me’.
Verse 5 gives us a glimpse into the after-life. People in Old Testament times didn’t have a clear understanding of the world beyond this life. Sometimes there is confidence – e.g. when Job says, in the middle of his situation, “I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand on the earth.”
Other times there is the uncertainty of what next.
For us as Christians in the post New Testament era, we can say with Paul, ‘…our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to life through the gospel.’ (2 Timothy 1:10)
That is not to say we never die because that is clearly not what Paul is saying. He is affirming that, although we will die physically, death for the Christian is but the gateway to immortality which was guaranteed us when we made that decision to follow Jesus.
David then comes back to his own personal situation – the hurt hasn’t gone away. The physical pain is still real.
So, too, are his enemies, of which there have been many.
There seems a note of depression and discouragement.
No wonder he is ‘worn out’.
But then he remembers the LORD – He has…
- heard my weeping
- heard my cry for help
- heard my cry for mercy
- accepted my prayer
How wonderful to be able to recall how good the LORD is and has been to him.
How great to have that confidence and assurance that his enemies will be shamed.
How encouraging to know that all through his ordeals the LORD has been there, even when David wasn’t sure.
For us, our cries for help and for mercy have been, and are being, heard. The Lord is with us and He has promised ‘never to leave us or forsake us’.
Spurgeon once said, “Oh! It is a glorious fact that prayers are noticed in heaven.”