O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD—how long?
Turn, O LORD, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?
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.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.
The LORD has heard my plea;
the LORD accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
I didn’t think I was going to be sharing anything from Psalm 6 today, but as I went along with my other readings, I was compelled to go back to it. Sure, you see here how the overall mood of whoever wrote it was hitting extreme levels of negativity, but look – it’s a man being real with God about how he feels, down to the very last details.
And he doesn’t spare his words, either. He doesn’t necessarily run his mouth the way we would do today. Or, well, the way I would run my mouth, anyway – the dashcam on my car would know all about how ‘real’ I am with Him. I think, that while I’m being pretty rash with my words, I don’t really keep myself together enough to really dig deep into how I am feeling, exactly.
What I’m trying to say here is that I’m pretty sure the writer of Psalm 6 took a couple of breaths and really thought his feelings and emotions through, telling me that even after taking time to breathe and organize his thoughts, he was still feeling these strong emotions.
I should also mention that the Psalmist was writing this at a time before the redemptive work of Christ. I’m not really sure about how connections with the Most High worked at that time, but didn’t they require the priests to lift up their words to Him? Well, apparently not – this is Psalm 6 out of a total 150 psalms, after all. And while not all of them are directed to God, I do believe what I heard once – that the Psalms express all the emotions we could ever feel – from absolute grief to euphoric exaltation, and everything in between.
So if the Psalmists were already open with God as early as the Old Testament, shouldn’t we – yes, those of us who have benefited from Christ and His finished work – be bolder in our own exhortations, emotions, thoughts and meditations to God, who, by the Holy Spirit, we call ‘Father’?
Apparently the salvation we have in Christ is so secure that even if we do not feel so bold to run to His throne of grace, He acknowledges us as we tremble in fear, and struggle with guilt. I know this because the writer first mentioned the Lord’s anger and wrath, before anything else in the Psalm.
As I keep going through the verses, it does hit a chord. Apparently we can be open to Him about how we ‘languish’ – prison comes to mind when I hear that word, but what it does mean according to Merriam-Webster is “failing to make progress or be successful”; I find this personal, considering how I condemn myself for being as old as I am, and not really feeling on top of my game when it comes to my personal finances, relationships, physical health, etc. In fact, if I may be open, I feel as if I haven’t accomplished a lot at this age. Maybe I’m being led too much by obsolete mindsets that insist that I should have this or that by this age (a wife and kids, sure); I’m not about to see this as grief that swallows me, but I’m not about to shrug it off as if to say that it’s just me being emotional about it.
But all that aside, I’ll definitely be open to the Lord about it – well, a whole lot more than I just opened up here, anyway.
Moving on, the Psalmist tells of how he also has that sunken feeling inside, and to him it feels like his soul, and his very bones are troubled. He’s felt this long enough for him to be straight with God – How long does he have to endure the pain from within? How long before he sees God rescue him from death? Surely, he says, he would be rescued from death – for how could a dead man praise God?
I find that morbid, but beautiful in a way – the Psalmist was saying, even before Christ, that his very life was to give praise to God, as if to reason this with Him for him to live. He calls God out on His steadfast love, much like we would today, and especially these days, as we brace ourselves for new leadership as we vote this coming Monday.
So far, we’re hearing this man crying out to the Lord, in the presence of condemnation, fear, anguish, and weariness, he weeps. He weeps so much that his bed – not his pillow, but his bed – is soaked in tears. His eyes – no, all of his senses are pushed to the limit from all this grief.
But, look – before the psalm ends our protagonist proclaims… The LORD has heard his cries, and his prayers. It’s only because of this that he ends this mostly downward psalm with just enough for the pointer to turn back North – For because he has been heard, he is bold to say, ‘All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.”
Do you see the rollercoaster of emotions that could be packed into just 10 verses? Besides the condemnation, fear, anguish, weariness and grief, suddenly we see hope and boldness! What is this guy, we ask, is he bipolar? Is he erratic? No, I think in the face of desperation he still tries to find his footing in God and His faithfulness, and though it does sound as if he is rash, I don’t think any of us could do any better. And we certainly couldn’t do better, especially in the situations we face in this world today. Imagine, those sorts of emotions existed back then, but now, even as we claim that knowledge has increased, technology has supposedly made our lives better, and we’ve assumed to have advanced in our thinking, we’re still not happy.
And there it is. I won’t deny that we’ve probably advanced as a species, but it’s all for naught because we’re still not happy. And friends, I believe that Christ and His finished work would not necessarily give us shallow happiness – no, Christ paid such as great price for us, not only to have peace beyond understanding, but deep, deep joy.
That’s what I think is the conclusion of all this verbal ‘exploration’ – that because of Christ, we have peace that keeps us no matter what happens to us, and we have power – power, that is, in the form of joy – that would propel us to make things happen as well.
What a wonderful revelation, and we’re still a third into the rest of the Word that I want to share today.
Then they believed His words;
They sang His praise.
They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.
The entire Psalm covers a lot of what’s been going on with the Nation of Israel up until that very moment. I say that it was all about Israel because the final verses mention, “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the Gentiles“. But even with that said I think we can still learn a lot from it.
Consider the following verses. Before verse 12 I believe the writer was sharing how the Israelites were rescued from Egypt, down to the point where the armies of Pharaoh lay in the darkest of depths of the Red Sea. Notice, how quick the verse shifted from them believing His words, and singing His praise (v12), and then suddenly, ‘they soon forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel’! (v13)
In the span of one verse, they forgot His works! Why, one verse ago, they were rejoicing – what gives? I mean, we would also dare to ask, what was wrong with them? Well, I don’t think anything was wrong with them, more than what we have today. It’s just a sobering reminder that we are just as susceptible as they are, floundering in our faith, even if we may have seen the great glorious works of God for ourselves!
Or, rather, it’s to say that we could just as easily forget the works of God, even if our senses beheld them in such detail in the past.
But that’s the thing. It’s not our faith, to begin with. I don’t think it was an accident that the writer of Hebrews mentioned Christ being our High Priest, and among other things, Christ is also the Author and Finisher of our faith! That’s right, friends, if you’re reading this so far, I’m saying that the faith that we have is not a faith that we developed on our own, but it is a faith that has been written into us, by no less than Christ Himself.
The Word also says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God. While we as pastors like to use this as a charge for us to continue preaching the Gospel, for faith to come to those who hear, I’d like to also acknowledge that faith comes by hearing the Word of God as shared by us and the rest of the members of the body of Christ… but seeing as we understand that Christ is the Word made flesh, we could also say that faith comes by hearing Christ!
In other words, each and every time we talk about Christ and His finished work, we present an opportunity for all those who listen to us to allow Christ to establish His faith into them! And I dare say, just as we have been made new creations in Christ, so we have been made temples of the Holy Spirit – living monuments, living beacons, living signs, living communication of Christ into this world. What am I trying to say? Well, each and every time we celebrate the love of God in us, and each and every time we celebrate God’s love by loving one another, apparently by this they shall know that we are His, but by this they shall also have the opportunity for the same faith to be written in them!
Looking at all this I could just say that we could be so erratic, and so dynamic (dynamic being a really nice word, when what I really want to say is volatile)… but even so, no matter where we stand in the spectrum, we ought to know that God has never taken a step away from us, and I truly believe that He is certainly for us, no matter what.
It’s at these moments of vulnerability where I appreciate the faithfulness of God, and also the fact that in Christ we have been made, and more importantly, it’s in Christ that we are held together.
I pray that we would all remember this at this time, no matter what we may be going through.
God bless us all.