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”
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.”” 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 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)