Meditations in David’s Psalms : 4 : A Weeping King – Psa 6
Psa 6:6 I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.
Bear in mind what we have said previously about this warrior but who is described as a man after God’s own heart. It is only by holding both those aspects before us that we can understand David and his psalms. I always remember David’s response when Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner and David declared, “And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me.” (2 Sam 3:39) David was a strong warrior but again and again he indicated he was not harsh and did not look for death. David is an emotional man and his psalms are packed with emotions. Catch a sense of them as we work through this psalm.
Verses 1 to 4 are clearly prayer addressed to the Lord and that may also include verses 5 to 7 but it is unclear. Verses 8 to 10 are clearly spoken outwards.
David’s prayer is essentially for the Lord to lift off from him what he is feeling and what he is going through for he feels it could be the Lord’s doing, rebuking and disciplining him: “O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.” (v.1) He doesn’t give any indication why this might be happening to him but whatever it is, he pleads for the Lord not to be against him
He opens up a little of what he is going through: “Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.” (v.2) He appears to be in physical agony, he appears to have some form of illness that is bringing him down. How many of us have felt similarly? His whole being feels it: “My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long?” (v.3) When you feel ill there is no escaping it, it impinges on your whole being. Is this why Jesus healed so many people, that he knew the prison that they were in?
David continues to cry out: “Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.” (v.4) When he says, “Turn, O Lord,” he echoes what so many of us feel when we are going through something similar, that the Lord is facing away from us, paying no attention to our plight, and we want to cry out, Lord, I’m over here, can you not see what is happening? He knows that God has the power to deliver him from this sickness. How many of us have been there? I know the Lord has the power to heal because Jesus healed so many, so why will he not heal me? But in the midst of it we are sure He still loves us.
He adds some logic to his plea to the Lord: “No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?” (v.5) There are shades of Job about this. What is the point of me dying? How can I praise you if I am dead? Come and heal me! Like Job, the depths of his anguish start to come out: “I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” (v.6) When you are in pain and suffering with illness it doesn’t stop at night and you cannot help groaning from time to time; it is just the body’s way of trying handle it.
But there is a feeling now coming out here of something more. When we are physically ill, we are also made weak emotionally. Depression is so easily linked with physical illness. Vulnerability is particularly prevalent when you are feeling physically down and this tough warrior weeps throughout the night. He weeps and weeps and weeps. What could cause such a depth of anguish? Well partly, no doubt, it is what we have been saying already – he is physically weak and that leaves him emotionally drained. But that is only part of it; see what follows. “My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.” (v.7) Ah! There is the second thing – people! We don’t know who or what, for he doesn’t say, but in his emotional weakness he is in no state to withstand the negatives that come from other people. Whoever or whatever, he feels utterly down because of them.
But then at the end of this psalm we find this same thing we find in so many of David’s psalms. There is no keeping him down. Even in the midst of anguish, tears and crying out to the Lord, something in him rises up: “Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping.” (v.8) Get lost! James wrote, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (Jas 4:7) Resist the devil, tell him where to go, and he will flee. Powerful words, but there has to be something in us that will reach out to God, grab a sense of His word for us so that faith rises, and then we stand and defy the enemies of the Lord.
David has come to a place of assurance: “The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.” (v.9) He suddenly has this inner assurance yet again. It seems he goes through this process again and again in his life: struggles come, he cries to the Lord in weakness, and then assurance breaks through. This assurance develops into confidence: “All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace.” (v.10) It’s sorted! The Lord has heard and so the Lord WILL deal with them; I’ve got nothing more to worry about! Hallelujah!