Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Psalm 6 - Bold Demands, Bold Honesty, and Bold Confidence

The notes in my Bible say that David is requesting relief from an illness brought about as a rebuke for sin.  I'm not sure how they know that exactly, but I'm curious to know what was going on in David's life at the time.  What had he done?  How long had it been going on?  How long was he ill before he actually prayed this?

When I look at the way Psalm 6 is set up, I immediately notice the format.  There are two halves split in the middle by the beginning of verse 6 which says, "I am worn out from my groaning."  Because I was curious, I looked it up and this same literary device is used in Psalms 8, 21, 23, 34, 42, 47, 48, 54, 71, 74, 76, 82, 86, 92, 97, 113, 138, and 141.  The format of this psalm makes the sentence "I am worn out from my groaning" the climax, or turning point of the poem.  And when I read more carefully, I find that it really is the turning point.

For the first half of the psalm, David is begging for mercy.  He uses verbs, commanding God to do something:

  • "Do not rebuke me"
  • "Have mercy on me"
  • "Heal me"
  • "Turn and deliver me"
  • "Save me"
This is bold.  David does not say, "Hey, if you wouldn't mind, would you please help me out a little."  He says, "Have mercy on me."  He even goes so far as to tell God no one can praise God from the grave.  

Then, the turning point, during which David is no less bold and honest.  He's straight-forward about being worn out.  He doesn't say he's felt better or pretend that things really aren't that bad as I tend to do when asked how I'm doing.  He feels miserable, so he tells God.

The second half of the psalm is just as bold, but in a different way.  David displays remarkable confidence that God has heard him, even though he has yet to be healed:
  • "Away from me evil"
  • "The Lord has heard"
  • "The Lord accepts my prayer"
  • "My enemies will be ashamed and disgraced"
He still has no relief from his agony or assurance of healing, yet he triumphantly tells evil to be gone and says that the Lord has heard his prayer and accepted it.  He confidently proclaims that his enemies will be ashamed and disgraced.  

Psalm 6 has given me a lot to think about.  I know I started reading the Psalms because I knew they were bold and honest, but I suppose I forgot just how frank they were and how supremely confident the authors sometimes seem in the midst of their honesty.  It makes me wonder:
  • Where does this confidence come from?
  • How does David seem to know that God has heard him and accepted his prayer even though he's still not healed?
  • If I were to write a similarly honest psalm to God containing bold demands, bold honesty, and bold confidence, what would it look like?

1 comment:

  1. Your insight is such an encouragement to me, as I struggle in my daily walk with God.