Psalm 6 is another Psalm of trouble in which David reaches out to the Lord, except this time in more distress of soul. We have more of a window into David’s distress than in previous Psalms, and he reaches a new depth of honesty as he shares his pain. Here he has the sense that God may possibly be against him.
This is another “imprecatory psalm,” in which David actively prays against his enemies. Again, under the New Testament we do not pray these kinds of prayers – unless they are our spiritual enemies.
This Psalm is also directed to the Chief Musician. The word sheminith here means “the eighth,” or perhaps an octave. It may mean a song sung by low voices, and it has been suggested that a low tone would fir the mood. It may also be an eight-stringed instrument that is being referred to.
1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger, neither chasten me in Your hot displeasure.
2 Have mercy on me, O LORD; for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul is also sorely troubled, but You, O LORD, how long?
- David fears that the Lord is rebuking him in anger. David knew that God was entitled to rebuke him if He thought it was necessary – but the idea that God might exercise His wrath against David was too much to bear. The Bible says that God reserves wrath for His enemies.
- Next, he appeals to God’s mercy. Because God has experienced human weakness, He knows full well the limitations of our nature. The weakness of David had even extended beyond his soul and into his physical being. His bones had become troubled.
- In verse 3 he becomes almost defiant. His soul is troubled and he asks God how long it will be?
4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul, oh save me for Your mercies’ sake.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who shall give You thanks?
6 I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
7 My eye is consumed because of grief; it grows old because of all my enemies.
- The next section is more argumentative. He asks for God to return. It is not as if God actually goes anywhere… He is omnipresent! This is an example of what is called anthropomorphism: ascribing human characteristics to God. This is a common device in the Scriptures which helps us to understand God. The Bible speaks about God’s wings, etc., but we are not to understand that God has actual wings, as God is a spirit. But to human beings, the sense that God is not fighting for us makes us feel as though God is distant, and we have no better words with which to talk about the experience.
- In verse 5 there is a difficult topic – the idea that the dead do not praise God. We must remember certain things here. David’s revelation of the afterlife was limited. Only with the New Testament did mankind receive a complete revelation of what occurs after death. This does not mean that David was in error; he could not have been in error because he was speaking Scripture by the Spirit. In fact, the situation of those in the grave (sheol) was different before Christ. Before Christ both the righteous and the unrighteous dead were together in the underworld. In Ephesians 4 we read how Jesus led captivity captive, and we believe that this is a reference to His loosing the righteous dead from that compartment called “Abraham’s Bosom.”
- Still, the dead give God no praise in the sense that they cannot add any longer to the praise of God in this world.
- In verses 6 and 7, David poetically describes His weeping in the night seasons. The tears of the righteous are precious to God. Jesus Himself wept in moments of strong emotion. This was not viewed as unmanly in any way, nor as somehow inappropriate from the standpoint of religion.
8 Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; for the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping.
9 The LORD has heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.
10 Let all my enemies be ashamed and exceedingly troubled; let them return and be ashamed suddenly.
- David concludes the song with one of his typical warning to the unrighteous. “Workers of iniquity” is a stronger phrase than “sinner.” These are people who practice and devise evil, and spread it. Although they might have mocked David in his weakness and illness, he wants them to know that God has heard him.
- The word supplication in Hebrew carries the idea of asking for mercy and grace. Many times we do not know how to pray as we should – we do not know what to ask for. David had practiced the wisdom of simply asking for God’s mercy in his situation. This type of praying asks for God’s grace, mixed together with His wisdom. For God knows what is best for us and what will also bring Him glory.
- When David was being chastened by God (and all Israel with him) he was given the choice of three different judgments. His response was to ask for the mercy of the Lord and to let God pick. He said, ” I am in great trouble; let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.” (2 Sam. 24)
- David said the Lord would receive his prayer. It is important to know that God does not receive all prayers. David had said himself that if he regarded iniquity in his heart the Lord would not hear him. (Psalm 66:18) There are many other things besides sin that can keep our prayers from being hindered, such as trouble in marriages (1 Peter 3:7) and praying with a double mind. (James 1:8) May our hearts be pure so that nothing will hinder our prayer and our abiding in Christ!