Thursday, January 15, 2009

Psalm 6

When I think of Psalm 6, I think of someone overwhelmed with his sin and cowering in front of a pure God. This is one of the first psalms in which the psalmist shows us a God who is to be feared because He is so holy.

Those of us who have been corrected by out parents know the difference between being corrected when they are really really mad and when we are corrected when they are somewhat calmer. Of course God sees all our future possible actions. He may be displeased with our actions but he's not particularly surprised. As say, our parents would be.

So, after telling God not to chasten him while he's angry, the psalmist reminds God that being human, he is weak. He talks about his body and he might mean his body but there's also the possibility that he is talking about being spiritually weak. Because he is human.

But there is a physical weakness...and he needs to be healed of it. He needs deliverance and God is taking a very long time. He appeals again to God's mercy.

Mercy is an interesting thing. When we ask for mercy we are in fact admitting our wrongs. In some cultures a judge has the option of showing mercy. It's a little different from the American system which basically has two pleas: guilty, not guilty. So the psalmist is basically saying, I am guilty but show me mercy anyway and let the punishment of the crime go.

What does he want God to deliver him from? Well, from his sickness, from death, from his enemies, from the effect of his sin, and from injustice.

Interestingly, he totally pleads to God's compassion. He gives God a list of all the emotional and bodily ailments he's gone through. No theological affirmations, no praising of God's goodness, no application of God's words. In fact, he goes so far as to make a difference between his sins and the sins of those others who are in iniquity. And he declares that God has heard his supplication. Why?

Because before his present sin -- and he doesn't precisely state what that is-- he was friends with God. God's anger against him is temporary, like a lover who is momentarily angry. He knows that after this very painful rejection from God God will receive him again. God does not hold his anger forever against his friends.

The verse that jumps out at me at this particular encounter with this psalm is "How long?" How long, Lord, will you seem distant from me? How long, Lord, will it take you to answer my prayers? Endurance is what tries, perfects, or kills our faith in God. The Psalmist never once says that God does not exists. Only fools say that. (Psalms 14) He is confused, shaken, distraught at times. But HE knows God is and that God is a rewarder to those who diligently seek him.

Another verse that jumps out at me is "let my enemies be ashamed suddenly." Sudden good coming to God's righteous believer is a joyous and amazing thing. May that happen to us also. May all our spiritual and physical sorrows suddenly leave us and may those enemies who fight against us -- diseases, grief, hurt, poverty-- be reminded again that God rules and blesses his people!

Psalm 6

1O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

2Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

3My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?

4Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.

5For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

6I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

7Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.

8Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.

9The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.

10Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.


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