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Psalm 6

Psalm 6 Summary Handout. David pleads with Yahweh to stop disciplining him

 

Summary

David is physically and emotionally worn out. He seems to be in pain, discouraged, and unable to sleep. He is fearful for his life. He asks Yahweh how long this will go on. The reason is that Yahweh has used David’s enemies to discipline him, for what we are not told. He asks Yahweh to show grace and healing to him instead of anger and wrath. David gives two reasons why Yahweh should help him: because of Yahweh’s lovingkindness, and because dead men do not praise Yahweh. In the end Yahweh saw David’s weeping and heard his prayers. The discipline is over. The enemies will give up—ashamed and dismayed.

Outline

  1. Psalm 6.1-3. David cries out to Yahweh to stop chastening him, and instead be gracious and heal.
  2. Psalm 6.4-7. David asks Yahweh to rescue his fading life from his adversaries because of Yahweh’s lovingkindness and because dead men do not praise Yahweh.
  3. Psalm 6.8-10. David knows that Yahweh has answered his prayer. Therefore, the enemies have been beaten, by Yahweh, not by David.

Brief Exposition

  1. Psalm 6.1-3. David cries out to Yahweh to stop chastening him, and instead be gracious and heal.
    1. Apparently, Yahweh is using people—those who want David dead or removed from leadership—to inflict Yahweh’s discipline on David. We do not know the specific reason for the divine discipline on David. We learn from this that Yahweh does use intermediaries to discipline, correct, or teach us. Those intermediaries can be people or events, 2 Corinthians 13.2,10 (Paul toward the Corinthians). At other times Yahweh takes direct action: see Numbers 16 (Korah, Dathan, Abiram), Acts 5 (Ananias and Saphira). The very recognition that this was divine chastening (discipline) is an admission of sin to Yahweh. First John 1 is the New Testament statement.
    2. Psalm 6.1-2. Note the words depicting Yahweh’s disciplinary action: do not rebuke (יָכַח yakach hiphil impf, to reprove, reproach, give judgment) in anger (אַף, ‘aph nose, nostril, face, anger nor chasten (יָסַר yasar, in the piel impf, to chasten, discipline, rebuke, teach, train) in wrath (חֵמָה chemah, heat, rage, anger). These indicate a judgment and discipline. He asks that instead Yahweh be gracious (חָנַן chanan, qal impv, to be gracious, show favor) and heal (רָפָא  raphah qal impv, heal). These words are pleas that Yahweh will stop the pain of the discipline.
    3. Psalm 6.2-3. David is experiencing physical and mental dismay. Bones (עֶ֫צֶם etsem) and soul  (נֶפֶשׁ nephesh) together indicate the physical and mental or emotional pain David suffers at this time.
    4. Psalm 6.3. Then the question, which is reminiscent of Psalm 13, O LORD (Yahweh), how long? David pleads that Yahweh will step in and remove the discipline and pain. David asks, how long must I endure this? See Psalm 35.17; 79.5; 89.46 for similar pleas. We probably respond the same way when we have difficult times.
  2. Psalm 6.4-7. David asks Yahweh to rescue his fading life from his adversaries because of Yahweh’s lovingkindness and because dead men do not praise Yahweh.
    1. Psalm 6.4.The verbs in this verse are Hebrew imperatives. Return (שׁוּב shub, qal impv), rescue (חָלַץ chalats, piel impv), save (יָשַׁע yasha hiph impv). David intensely appeals to Yahweh for deliverance.
    2. He bases his request on “your lovingkindness” (חֶ֫סֶד hesed). This is an attribute of Yahweh. Versions vary in the translation: KJV, mercy; NKJV, mercy; NIV84, unfailing love; NASB95, Lovingkindness; NET Bible, faithfulness; Lexham English Bible, steadfast love; ESV, steadfast love; RSV, steadfast love.
    3. Hesed. This word group identifies God's loyal gracious promise keeping love to his people. We can depend upon him to view us this way and to treat us this way, even when he tests us or disciplines us. Ryrie's steadfast loving kindness is a clear way to express hesed. Our side of the equation is to trust our gracious promise keeping loving God no matter what the situation or condition may be. See the word study file, “hesed חֶ֫סֶד  in the Hebrew Bible, Survey of Literature and Summary,” Tod Kennedy.
    4. Psalm 6.5. David appeals to Yahweh’s hesed. The reason he appeals is that if he dies he will not praise or thank Yahweh ((Psalm 30.9; 88.10–12; Isaiah 38.18). We have a saying, “dead men tell no tales.”
    5. Psalm 6.6. This verse expresses his weariness, sorry, pain, and emotion. David is in pain from divine discipline, is very discouraged, and is emotionally drained. He wears himself out on his bed with his worry and pain. He sheds tears of sorry and pain. So much so that his bed becomes soaked. The Hebrew words picture a couch that is soaking wet.  This has gone on for an unknown period of time, certainly more than one night.
    6. Psalm 6.7. This verse is literal and very accurately describes one in intense pain and inner turmoil.  David’s eyes are swollen, and he does not see well. We know that great pain, sadness, and long term crying will make the eyes swell and interrupt good vision. The immediate cause for David’s trouble is his adversaries (צָרַר tsarar, show hostility, qal participle). Since Yahweh is using the adversaries to discipline David, Yahweh can also stop the attack. That can encourage David. Yahweh has the upper hand.
  3. Psalm 6.8-10. David knows that Yahweh has answered his prayer. Therefore, the enemies have been beaten, by Yahweh, not by David.
    1. Psalm 6.8. At this point David is convinced that Yahweh will stop the divine discipline. He tells the “doers of iniquity,” his enemies to depart (סור sur, the qal imperative, go away leave, turn aside).
    2. Psalm 6.8a-9. Yahweh is the personal name of God that David has used many times in his psalms, and eight times in Psalm 6. David knows him well. He has revealed himself to David. David uses three parallel expressions to emphasize that Yahweh has heard and answered his prayer: “has heard the voice of my weeping,” “has heard my supplication for favor,” “receives my prayer.” All will be well. Yahweh has heard. Yahweh will answer. Psalm 6.1 will end. Psalm 6.2-4 will take effect.
    3. Psalm 6.10. David expresses confidence that this spiritual and physical battle is over. Why? Because Yahweh has heard David’s pleas and has extended grace to him. Whatever the reason for this episode, we do not know, but Yahweh has responded with grace. The enemies will be ashamed, greatly dismayed, turn back, and suddenly ashamed. Some take these four verbs as jussives following the Greek translation. Jussives express the will of the speaker in the third person—let them be ashamed etc. It seems that from Psalm 6.8-9 Yahweh has answered his prayer and this is a statement of confidence rather than an exhortation to his enemies. Either way, the sense is that Yahweh has delivered David from the divine discipline he brought on through David’s enemies.

So what for us?

  1. Divine discipline can be can affect us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  2. Yahweh disciplines directly without other people administering the discipline (things just happen such as an illness, a sense that something is wrong, a bad event happening), or indirectly when he uses someone to deliberately harm you as he did with David in this psalm. Divine discipline can be a warning (Revelation 3.20), pain of some kind (1 Corinthians 11.30, Hebrews 12.5-7), and death (1 Corinthians 11.30, 1 John 5.16-17).
  3. If we know the reason, then we must confess that sin and appeal to Yahweh’s lovingkindness-mercy. If we do not know the reason, then we still appeal to Yahweh’s lovingkindness-mercy. David appealed directly to Yahweh.
  4. All recovery from God’s chastening is based upon Yahweh’s lovingkindness and mercy.
  5. We appeal to Yahweh through prayer and faith that he will hear and answer us.