Do you notice the heavy thread of anguish that runs through the Psalms? At the start of this series, I warned that it seems repetitive. Many can relate, especially with the current events. I’m sure some parents, who are ‘enjoying’ having their kids indoors with them 24/7 find that night time is the only time to let the ‘happy face mask’ drop. I am sure that some wives who always wished their husbands would spend more time at home might now realize they didn’t have it so bad before…just maybe. Moreover, some men who went to work every day and wished they could just have some down time with no school events or other distractions to fill their evening, might be suffering from severe cabin fever about now. And these would be the functional families…
David’s life was far from functional. He lived in the hills, hiding from Saul for seven to eight years after Samuel anointed him as King. Once he was able to take his place as king he still had to fight off enemies within Israel who rejected him, enemies outside the country, and enemies within his own family. Between the history recorded in the books of Samuel and Kings, along with the Psalms, which seem like a personal memoir, we can see a troubled life.
Our own faults and mistakes often keep us awake at night. David’s words in this Psalm indicate that the Lord has reason to rebuke him. It hurts to the bone; his soul is troubled at the thought that God’s anger and wrath would be released upon him. The same Lord, who has the power to answer his appeals for help, also has the power to rebuke and punish.
We know that too. This balance between faith and fear is what we work out in real life. It is the reason Jesus promises that he will be with us. In fact, the gift of the Spirit within us reveals that God’s love is with his followers who will stumble and fall. We will never reach perfection, but we do have the perfect guide for our soul.
Walk through the range of suffering in Psalm 6:1-10: questioning, anguish, moaning and tears, weeping, grief, pleas and prayers, tears, weakness, more grief. It looks like clinical depression…maybe it is. However, let us look at the expressions of faith between the fears.
He addresses the LORD, or Yahweh. David turns to the one true God who IS. He appeals to God’s graciousness, which he remembers and has experienced many times. He asks, “How long”, knowing that God has control over his life. He appeals to God’s deliverance and steadfast love. Rather than attacking God as a monster, he sees God as his benefactor and the keeper of his soul, the source of all power.
Notice the openness of his relationship with God in the attempt to reason: “For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?” He is not afraid to plead, maybe even bargain with God. Have we not done the same thing when we carry great burdens? When my husband had open-heart surgery, I reminded God that this man was his servant who loved him and had been a fruitful servant. As if God did not already know everything about the man I love. I found comfort because I knew I could plead with the Lord of heaven. In fact, he has told us not to worry but to trust him (see Matthew 6-7).
Finally, David’s God-given courage kicks in, and it seems the Lord has done a great work in his heart as he pushes through his turmoil: “Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.” He has come to the end of this angst and he seems to switch the off button on his tears with a strong declaration. “The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer.”
A good friend has prayed for her daughter for several years. It has been burden to her; I know she has shed many tears in anguish; and I have joined her in prayer for this wayward young woman. At one point my friend told me, “I’m trusting God with this now. He knows my heart in this, and I don’t have to keep telling him over and over.” She, like Daniel had come out of the dark pit of sorrow, despite the fact that the situation was the same.
You too, can sing this night song with David and declare with strength and joy:
“The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer!” Psalm 6:10 (ESV)