Psalm 6 — On Sorrow, Shame and Relief — Reading the Psalms

For the Chief Musician; on stringed instruments, set to the Sheminith. A Psalm of David.

1 O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger,
Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am withered away:
O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
3 My soul also is sore vexed:
And thou, O LORD, how long?
4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul:
Save me for thy lovingkindness’ sake.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee:
In Sheol who shall give thee thanks?
6 I am weary with my groaning;
Every night make I my bed to swim;
I water my couch with my tears.
7 Mine eye wasteth away because of grief;
It waxeth old because of all mine adversaries.
8 Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity;
For the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.
9 The LORD hath heard my supplication;
The LORD will receive my prayer.
10 All mine enemies shall be ashamed and sore vexed:
They shall turn back, they shall be ashamed suddenly.

Sin and sorrow mount and our souls grow distressed. Sorrows from without are a common topic of the psalms, but herein we find the more devastating sorrow that comes from within. The rebuke of God is terrifying and not to be ignored.

David feels the hot displeasure nearby. His bones and his very soul is vexed. The anger of God is not a thing he can withstand and he begs God for relief, for mercy and for healing. Without the mercy of God the only sight ahead of him is sheol. Thus, he weeps in his bed – flooding it nightly, apparently – in his helpless sorrow.

I know sorrow. You know sorrow, do you not? Do you know guilt or shame? This psalm reminds us there is but one hope out from this sorrow. It reminds us that to ignore God for too long leads only to the emptiness of the grave – an eternity removed from the praise of God.

It also reminds us that, with the mercy of God, we may depart from troubles and the workers of wickedness. If we cry he will hear and receive our prayer. And if God holds your prayer in hand, what enemy will you fear? Use this psalm to plead for help, healing and mercy from God.

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