Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Psalm 6 : "The Believer Broken and Healed by God"

TITLE : The Believer Broken       and Healed by God 
DATE :  28/07/2013

Why do the Psalms speak to us?  Because they  dare to portray life  as it is!  David  and the other Psalmists  never tried to  pretend that they  were  spiritual supermen when  life  was difficult  either when they were being sinned against, or when sin caught up with them. No! What they  did  was to  to bring their troubles or vexations  to God, telling Him  honestly how these things were affecting them - bodily, emotionally, spiritually. In so doing  they cast themselves  upon God for mercy.  

This is the first  of seven “penitential psalms.” (cf.  Psalms 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143.) Spurgeon says: “It’s language  well becomes the lips of a penitent, for it expresses at once the sorrow, the humiliation and the hatred of sin (v.8)  which are the unfailing marks  of the contrite spirit when it turns to God[1]
         The Psalm can be divided into two parts : (i) The Psalmists  vexation (vv. 1-7)   and (ii) the Psalmists  victory ( vv.8-10)

(i) The Psalmists  vexation (vv. 1-7) - Prayer   outpoured

v. 1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,  nor discipline me in your wrath.
It seems  as if  David may have brought his circumstances on himself because of some sin. He  knows that God is angry. He knows  and admits  that God is entirely justified  in his wrath   e.g. such a situation is found in  2 Samuel 24 – David’s  unsolicited census, which incurred the wrath and punishment of God .

In this  realization  he begs God: "do not rebuke me ; do not discipline me". Pain  is never a welcome guest .  We never seek it voluntarily, but it happens, and when it  does happen,  we  seek to move heaven and earth to get rid of it. 
Pain  is  not always  negative. It can be constructive. When we sin, and  when God in His fatherly care   thinks it wise to  rebuke us or discipline us (see Hebrews 12:5-11, which is based on  Prov. 3:11,12; Deut. 8:5; Ps.  66:10)   we must  not think  that God is  wrong to do so.  The writer to the Hebrews asserts:
“God is treating you as sons. For  what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this , we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not  much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For  the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant , but later  it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebr. 12:7-11).

But  right now  David   is begging for mercy. He is   clearly experiencing pain. Look at the language!
(1) "I am languishing ."
(2) "My bones are troubled ."
(3) "My soul is also greatly troubled."
(4) "I am weary with my moaning."
(5) " Every  night  I flood my bed  with tears ."
(6) "I  drench my couch with my weeping ."
(7) "My eye wastes away  because of grief."

Pain  accompanied by sorrow is what David is experiencing. “Sorrow” , said  John Webster, a playwright and a contemporary  of William Shakespeare, “is the eldest of the children of sin”. However in God’s economy,  pain or sorrow may be a great tool  to get us to listen to Him.  C.S. Lewis in his classic “ The Problem of Pain” (p.81)  says it well: “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience , but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
David is  in pain…

V.2 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. David pleads with God to be gracious  -  he is asking for unearned favor. He deserves God’s wrath, but asks that God will deal  not deal with him according  to what he deserves .
He feels   the consequences of his  sin  in a physical way  “…for my bones are troubled”.  See how often this physical pain in the bones is referred to in the Psalms :  e.g. 
  • Ps 22:14 “all my bones are out of joint”; 
  • 22:17 : “I can count all my bones “ – weight loss;   
  • 31:10: “my bones grow weak”;  
  • 32:3: “my bones wasted away”; 
  • 38:3 :”My bones have no soundness”; 
  • 42:10 “ My bones suffer mortal agony etc.

The literal Hebrew rendering of   Psalm  6:2  is : “my bones are shaken“. He was literally feeling shaky in a physical  sense , but there was more to it.

V.3  My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O LORD—how long?  The same root word is used  here   as in v.2. “My soul  is greatly troubled (shaken) ”. Spurgeon  observes: “Soul-trouble is the very soul of trouble. It matters not that the bones shake if the soul be firm, but when the soul itself is also sore vexed this is agony indeed.”[2]  So we have every reason to believe that David finds himself  in  a deep hole –  he  is spiritually and physically shaken !

From this follows  another very common question in the Bible :  “But You, O LORD – how long?” 
  • this question is found frequently in the Psalms  (Psalm  13:1- 2 – 4times ;  35:17; 74:10; 79:7;  80:4;  89:46;  90:13;  94:4; 101:1). 
  • The prophets are asking  this question: Jer 12:4; Isa 6:11 ; Hab 1:2; Zec 1:12. 
  • The saints under the altar in  Revelation 6:9  are  asking this question. According to Spurgeon[3]  this apparently was  one of  John Calvin’s  ‘favourite groans‘  (Domine usque quo).  And it sums up David’s  desperation .

 V. 4. : It is  clear that this is  David’s dark night of the soul. It is akin to Christ’s cry of forsakenness – although not remotely in the same degree. Christ's sufferings were utterly unique. David  begs God: “ Turn (lit. return) , O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.”
Here we understand that  the  feeling  of  God’s absence was  the main cause of his misery. His sin had caused David  to experience the loss  of God’s  presence. This  is different  to  Job who had experience this  forsakenness, but not due to  his sin.  David  had grieved the Holy Spirit.  However, it is significant to see  that   David tenaciously clings to God. He refuses to let Him go, and he appeals to  God’s steadfast love (Hebrew: chesed)- God's covenantal love -  a major and often repeated  OT concept. He appeals   to  God’s covenantal love. God’s covenantal love is rooted in His election. The principle is clear. Those  whom God chooses, He will never forsake. (Deut. 31:6,8; Josh. 1:5; ; Hebr. 13:5). Though David is unfaithful, God is not  (2 Tim 2:13). God will  discipline  his son, but He will not forsake his son. David knows that!

V.5 :  Listen to David’s further reasoning: “For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?” David is now  throwing ‘holy arguments’  at God. Listen to Spurgeon again : “Ah  poor trembling sinners, may the Lord help you to use this forcible argument. It is for God’s glory that a sinner should be delivered…” Now we are not asking that God should compromise  His holy standards  by  overlooking the sin. No, here we appeal to the grace and mercy of God, which he offers us freely in Christ. Christ has borne away the sin of the world, and those  who appeal to Christ will find a  fountain of mercy that will never run dry.  A forgiven sinner  has capacity to praise God.  Those who die in their sins have none. That is David’s argument.

Vv. 6&7 :  “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief;  it grows weak because of all my foes. “ David  has had it! His is sick of sin. He wants God back in His life – and he does so with all  his might.  “Ah brethren , it is no light matter  to feel oneself a sinner, condemned at the bar of God …” (Spurgeon 1/58)
(ii) the Psalmists  victory ( vv.8-10) – Prayer answered

This is the  turning point of the Psalm. And it starts with these words :  “Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping”.  Now,whatever  David had done to  cause  God’s wrath to be outpoured, it had to do  with these workers of evil.  In the course of time it may be that we surround ourselves with workers of evil – be they  false alliances ; bad counselors, unspiritual people on whom we come to depend …. The time has come to sweep the house clean. Spurgeon: “The best  remedy  for us against an evil man is  a long space between us” (1/58)  I can have no fellowship with you!
Repentance is a practical thing. It is not enough  to  weep and wail about our  pain , and our loss of peace and fellowship with God. We must get  rid  of  the source of evil, just as Jesus got rid of  the buyers and sellers in the temple .
Throw out the evil companions that keep your heart captive. A pardoned sinner will  hate the sins  which cost the Saviour his blood. Grace and sin are quarrelsome neighbours, and one or the other must  go. 

V 8b ,9:  The LORD has heard  the sound of my weeping (Spurgeon – “liquid prayers”) ; He has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer. What brought about the change ?  It is the work of the  Holy Spirit , the Convicter of sin , the Counsellor and the Comforter.

V10 :  All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment. Those that  were holding David back , and causing him to fall for the sin  which caused the   discipline of God  to take hold of him , have now lost David  allegiance.

Applying Psalm 6

·       Understand the power of sin. Be careful of ungodly alliances.
·       Sin has painful consequences
·       When aware of this  weep, and  humble yourself  before God
·       Use holy arguments ; appeal to His covenantal faithfulness
·       Plead with God until He breaks through
·       Practice  true repentance . Distance yourself from evil .
·       Ungodly friends will leave you .
·       God will be your friend  - and you will be happy and blessed  ( Psalm 1)

[1] Spurgeon the Treasury of David  1/56
[2] Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, 1/1:57.

[3] Ibid.

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