First Off…read Psalm 6!
To begin: Context. Well, our Bibles tell us it’s David and clearly he has been in some pain and agony as he speaks of being “faint” and needing healing for his bones are in agony. Is he sick? Is he on the run? Is he in hiding? Is he in the middle of war? Well, David cries out to God to “hold up” before acting on his discipline. Why? Because he is repentant of his sins. Psalm 6 is part of a list of psalms that are considered “the Penitential Psalms” in that the writer is seeking forgiveness and are repenting. So deep is their sorrow that the feel “faint”, their bones are in agony, their soul is in anguish, they spend the nights groaning and weeping – so much so that should they continue to lay in bed crying that the amount of tears would probably create a river and float them away!
What’s interesting is that all this pain and suffering that is happening…is all on them. God isn’t forcing them to flood the earth with their own tears. God isn’t hurting their bones or making their soul anguish. It’s all the psalmist. She is the one in her own pain and sorrow. I think he is expecting God to immediately respond, in anger, and punish him for his sins…it’s almost as if he is waiting for it. Like this wrath of heaven will come down as a bolt of lightning and strike him dead at any moment!
Have we ever felt that way? Have we ever felt that we were waiting for God’s righteous anger to come crashing down and smote us off the face of the earth? Or maybe it’s not God that you can relate to. Maybe you come from an abusive home where the threat of your Mom or Dad coming home to “deal” with you was given. Maybe the threat HASN’T been given but you’ve been there enough times to know that once _____ got home you would be severely punished.
The psalmist, as he writes, as he laments, as he cries out for forgiveness from God, as he goes through his own struggles of what he has done and begins living out the punishment that HE HIMSELF has not only brought on but handed down TO HIMSELF…he knows God is listening and will hear and respond. He knows that the Lord accepts his apology – his prayer for deliverance from his woes (vs 9).
THIS…is the grace WE find in this psalm. We do not believe in a God who doesn’t listen, doesn’t help, doesn’t extend love/grace/mercy, and doesn’t respond. And nowhere in scripture would we find the support of a non-existent, never-present, aloof God. From Genesis thru Revelation we see this complete beautiful story of God’s work amongst his people. And in that story, as well, we see God’s wayward children constantly breaking his laws time and time again. And thru THAT story we see God CONSISTENTLY responding to them…and not with anger but with love. But that’s only the tip of the story. The COMPLETE story is about God’s COMPLETE love of his children and that this is seen, experienced, shown, felt, observed, and given in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Which then leads me to verse 5 where the psalmist asks, “Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave?” Well, in short: we do. The grave is where we were and yet through Christ we are not. So we praise him there. Yes, the Psalmist is asking this rhetorical question as the grave is where they see themselves going – but in truth while that may SEEM like our destination we praise God that it is not. Can you see how all of this points to Christ?
- NO grave because of Christ
- Cry for mercy: Yes – enter: Christ
- God accepting our prayers: Yes – even before Christ but even MORE SO because of him.
- Overwhelming enemies? Yes – because of Christ
So yes, I absolutely get that David is in this painful waiting period as he waits for the work of God to take place in his life. And I definitely have been in that place/space – but what exactly are we waiting for? Not only has God already responded (by way of Jesus) but God’s grace and mercy are poured out upon us – not is wrath and destruction (thank you Jesus for that too).
3 QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CHEW-ON:
- What in this psalm speaks to you? Where are you drawn? Why?
- Why does it seem like even though we declare God’s goodness we are still waiting for a possible wrath from Him? Where does this belief come from?
- I love this image of “unfailing love” that the psalmist speaks of in verse 4. But isn’t “unfailing” wrong? God simply is love. It doesn’t “fail” nor does it “succeed” either – it simply is. Is there a better way to understand God’s love?