Psalm Chapter 6: David’s Prayer

Jan 28th, 2012 | By | Category: Psalms, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Psa. 6:0 To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David.

Psalm 6, like Psalm 4, was to be accompanied by stringed instruments. However, while stringed instruments (plural—like an orchestra) were to be used, the music in this instance was to be played an octave lower because of the mournful intonations. In addition, the phrase “upon Sheminith” tells that the particular instrument had eight strings and thus was more like a lyre, a harplike instrument. With the music being played an octave lower on a lyre, it fit the mood of the words of this Sixth Psalm. Similarly, sometimes the words and music of a hymn coordinate so beautifully that the hymn becomes a favorite. David gave advice in connection with many of the Psalms, choosing not only the individual who should sing or play but also the type of musical instrument to be used. The title introducing the Psalm in the King James Version is actually in the Hebrew scroll. Many other Bible translations omit that commentary.

Psa. 6:1 O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

Psa. 6:2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

Psa. 6:3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?

David was in a low period, just as we, as Christians, have times of depression. He felt a weakness of not only depression but also health. His experiences were affecting him physically, mentally, and spiritually. King David was confessing to Jehovah his weakness and his need, as we do when being tried in a special fashion. We call upon the Lord for help in our time of need.

David’s experience seemed to be prolonged. He was expressing his mood in prayer, but the prayer was not being answered as soon as he would like. Therefore, he was beseeching the Lord to have mercy on him. “Rebuke me not in thine anger.” Sometimes we do not know whether the experiences are in the nature of something we have done wrong or if the Lord is teaching us along another line to work out fruitage in our character development. For the moment, David felt the Lord may have been displeased with him, so he was asking for mercy.

“Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.” He felt the experience intensely.

Why did David say, “Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak”? He did not want to succumb to the experience by giving up. Feeling the experience in his very being, he did not want his faith to be crushed. He was affected not only in his mind but also in his body and strength. “My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?”

Psa. 6:4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake.

David petitioned, “Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake.” He was asking for deliverance from this particular experience. David did not give any more detail about the experience, so we do not know what was provoking his emotions.

Psa. 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

Verse 5 is often quoted in witnessing: “For in death there is no remembrance of thee”; that is, one’s very thoughts perish. “In the grave [Hebrew sheol] who shall give thee thanks?” Not only is there no torture in the grave, but also no praise is uttered, for the grave is silent. David was talking about a personal experience, and his emotions show how serious it was. In fact, the experience was so serious that it could lead to his demise. He wanted to give thanks to God, for his main purpose in life was to always rejoice in the Lord, but he could not rejoice in this circumstance, so he was asking for help.

Psa. 6:6 I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

Here again David was praying at night, and his prayer was accompanied by many tears.

Psa. 6:7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.

David’s very eye was weakened because of the strain of his emotions and grief. “It [David’s eye] waxeth old because of all mine enemies.” The mention of “enemies” reveals something of the basic reason for the trauma he was going through. One who is lonely and grieving looks for some solace, help, and sympathy. “Misery loves company” seems to be a general law. When undergoing trouble, a person wants commiseration and the empathy of others.

Psa. 6:8 Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.

Comment: Verse 8 indicates David received strength from the Lord. There would now be a change in his mood.

Reply: The strength did not necessarily come in one night. He had been troubled by his enemies over a period of time with one situation occurring after another. He needed help in his weakness and desired to be sustained by an answer from the Lord. Verses 8-10 show that he received an assurance.

Comment: Jesus spoke similar words in Matthew 7:23, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Reply: The principle applies, but there Jesus was speaking of the Great Company. The word “iniquity” means “lawlessness.” The Great Company class are given sufficient information during their lifetime to make their calling and election sure, but they are slothful in not being attentive to the warnings of the end-time period. They do not heed the admonition for having a sufficient supply of oil to fill their lamps, so when the circumstance arises, they will not be prepared and will suffer the consequences. They will be shut out from the wedding.

Jesus used the wording of verse 8 as a principle in other places as well. While the circumstances are different in each case, they all have the common factor of being a form of lawlessness. For example, some pursue the willful enjoyment of the pleasures of this world, and others are completely unmindful of their neglect to follow Jesus’ instructions. With some, the penalty will be Second Death. For others, some kind of retribution will be required in order for the individual to return to God’s favor.

Psa. 6:9 The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.

David did not tell exactly how his prayer was heard and what assurance he received to lift him out of his low period and restore him to his usual joy in the Lord. He was testifying that God answers the prayers of the righteous. In his need during the prolonged experience, he received the necessary help. Reading of David’s experience gives us some assurance that while we are going through deep waters, God will, in His own way and time, provide the necessary strength. Here David introduced the word “prayer,” which, when combined with the term “all the night” in verse 6, indicates that the Sixth Psalm was also a nighttime prayer. Psalms 3-6 were all night experiences.

Psa. 6:10 Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

Review of Psalms 3-6

It takes time to digest these Psalms and to see their purpose. As we meditate on them, they become a little clearer and begin to focalize. The bottom line in Psalms 3-6 is that they were all prayers—nighttime prayers. “I cried [in prayer] unto the LORD with my voice…. I laid me down and slept; I awaked” (Psa. 3:4,5). Psalm 4:1 begins with “hear my prayer.” The Psalm continues, “Commune with your own heart upon your bed…. I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep,” again showing an evening prayer (Psa. 4:4,8). Psalm 5:3 reads, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD.” David had confidence that God would answer his evening prayer by daybreak. He continued his evening prayer, “In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee.” In Psalm 6:6, David prayed at nighttime in bed, “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.” He added, “The LORD will receive my prayer” (Psa. 6:9). Thus all four Psalms (3-6) were evening prayers.

These Psalms are not structured compositions written while David’s thinking was calm and collected. On the contrary, they were written with emotion according to the mood he was experiencing, and his moods were going back and forth.


(2004-2006 Study)

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