Psalm 6: A Cry for Mercy

Psalm 6 English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments; according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.

Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
    nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
    heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
    But you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
    save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
    in Sheol who will give you praise?
I am weary with my moaning;
    every night I flood my bed with tears;
    I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
    it grows weak because of all my foes.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
    for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
    they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

Have you ever been so completely overwhelmed that you have felt physically ill?

This psalm is the heart-cry of a man who is utterly broken. He is broken because of his sins v1, and because of his enemies v7-8,10. It is affecting him in every way: spiritually v3, physically v2 and emotionally v6. He could not be in a place of greater weakness.

All though I can’t be sure, it seems likely that there is a connection between his sense of guilt in v1 and the suffering he is receiving at the hands of his enemies. Guilt is mingled with the pain and it has become almost unbearable. His tears are both an expression of the pain and a recognition that he has brought it on himself.

So what can we do when we find ourselves in a position where we carry a heavy burden of hardship, compounded with feelings of guilt? First of all, be like David. Calvin explains it in this way:

John Calvin Quote

But this psalm is not merely about the desperate pleas of a broken man. They are also the convictions of a man of hopeful resolve. In fact, the change of tone in vv8-10 seems to come out of nowhere as if he suddenly sees something that gives him confidence. Just look at these verses again:

Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
    for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
    they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

David is confident that the Lord will hear his prayers and vindicate him. How can we have this confidence when we know that it is our own sin and guilt that is at the root of the problem? What does David “see”? The answer lies in v4:

Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
    save me for the sake of your steadfast love.

“Steadfast love” is something that God has promised his people and so David knows that God will not abandon him because God would never break his promise. This remains true despite their failures. If this was true for David in the Old Covenant, how much more true is it for those of us in Christ. Jesus has given us an all-sufficient pledge of God’s commitment to his promises. His sacrifice for worthless sinners is the ultimate expression of his steadfast love and so we who trust in Christ can have confidence in the face of sin, shame and subsequent hardships. As David Wells writes in his book God in the Whirlwind;

“Christ’s redemption is not going to be stopped cold by the very sin he went to the cross to overcome!”

O God may I never forget your amazing grace and your steadfast love. May it give me the confidence to cry out for mercy in my sin and to persevere with hope in my suffering.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s