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Summary: This Psalm was written by David but we are not told when he wrote it. It could have been composed during the period of Absalom’s rebellion when David was old, sick, and unable to handle all the complex responsibilities of the kingdom.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Tom Lowe

Psalm 6—Perfect Man In The Midst Of Chastisement.

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to "sheminith." A psalm of David.

1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.

2 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.

3 My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long?

4 Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.

5 No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?

6 I am worn out from 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 ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace.

Introduction

The dedication—A psalm of David—tells us that this Psalm was written by David but we are not told when he wrote it. It could have been composed during the period of Absalom’s rebellion when David was old, sick, and unable to handle all the complex responsibilities of the kingdom. David’s gradual failure as a viable leader was one of Absalom’s “selling points” as he stole the hearts of the Israelites.

1 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. 2 He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, "What town are you from?" He would answer, "Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel." 3 Then Absalom would say to him, "Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you." 4 And Absalom would add, "If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that he gets justice." 5 Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. 6 Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel. (2 Samuel 15:1-6)

But the psalm might have been written at any time during David’s reign when he was ill and being attacked by his enemies. He describes his dilemma as some physical ailment which has left him faint, in agony, and in anguish—and he cries out to God for mercy. He was sure he was facing death (v. 5), which indicates that his experience was real and that he wasn’t using sickness and war as a metaphor for his personal troubles. Psalm 6 is the first of seven “penitential* psalms” in which the writers are being punished by God and experiencing suffering. The other psalms are: 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143, and all of these psalms are helpful to us when we need to confess our sins and draw closer to the Lord. In this psalm, David records the stages in his difficult experience of moving by faith from trial to triumph.

*expressive of penitence or repentance.

Commentary

1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.

Eight times in the psalm David addresses God as Lord—Jehovah,” the covenant name of God. He first rebukes and then He chastens, just as parents warn their disobedient children before they discipline them.

5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (Hebrews 12:5-6)

According to Hebrews 12:1-13, chastening is not punishment meted out by an irate judge, but discipline given by a loving father to help His children mature.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

Sometimes God chastens us in order to deal with our disobedience, but at other times He chastens us to prepare us for what lies ahead. The words rebuke, anger, discipline, and wrath are all expressions of the recognition of the disciplinary side of suffering. The writer does not deny his guilt or declare his innocence. His punishment must cease before his emancipated body can find relief and be restored. All he can do is cast himself on the mercy of God. The proper reaction to chastening is also the best way of dealing with trouble—prayer!

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