Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Psalm 6

Psalm 6
A psalm of persevering faith in distress

"O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure. Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled; but You, O LORD- how long? Return, O LORD, deliver me! Oh, save me for Your mercies' sake!" (verses 1-4)

       We find David here suffering from both physical illness and spiritual distress, and true to his character, he cries out to God to deliver him from both.    
       David had apparently sinned in some way, and believed that his present distress was related to that sin. Thus, David is not only sick in his body, but feeling sick in his heart as well. He is keenly aware of his sin, and fears that God may still be angry with him for it. Whereas God does lovingly chastise His children at times, which is a sign of adoption rather than rejection, (Hebrews 12:3-11), David fears that he may have angered God to the point of rejection. "Have I sinned one time too many? Is there a limit to the LORD's mercies?" David may have asked himself. 
      Have you ever asked that? As a Christian perhaps you have again and again stumbled into some sin, and now find yourself feeling condemned, wondering if you are forsaken, and suffering under what feels like punishment for your failings. You fear you have out-sinned the mercies of God. 
      Dear sister or brother, hear me. God is not punishing you, and He is not angry with you. This is not His wrath. If you have trusted in Christ for your salvation, you stand before God clothed in the righteousness of Jesus, not the guilt of your sins. Jesus bore in His own body on the cross the punishment for all your sins, and God never punishes twice
      Your present distress was allowed by Him, yes, but He is not rejecting you. Even if you brought this trial upon yourself, He is there right beside you in it, upholding you in His grace. He will never leave you nor forsake you. 
        God alone can turn the worst of circumstances and the most fiery of trials into something even beautiful. In 1 Peter 1:6-8 it says, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love." 
      God was not punishing David, but testing him... trying him... in his crisis. Trials are not about punishment, but FAITH! And David, in simply crying out to God for mercy, was victorious in this test.  God's times of testing are not to prove our own goodness, but our faith in His goodness 
      David does not give in to the condemnation of the enemy, but still hopes in God's mercy. So, in the midst of your trial, place your hope and trust in the God whose mercies never fail! 
      "Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23) His mercies have no limit. "Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." (1Chronicles 16:34)

  "For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks? I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears; My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows old because of all my enemies." (verses 5-7)       

       David was not a materialist, as his words in verse five might suggest. He believed not only in an afterlife, but in the resurrection of the dead and an eternity with God. So why then does he say this? If David had died as a result of this illness, his soul would have been in "sheol," or "the grave", where the opportunity to recall God's deliverance in this matter and praise God for His faithfulness in answering this prayer would have been over. Only if God answered David's prayer to heal him from his sickness and rescue him from his enemies, would he live to thank God for it and remember His deliverance. He is in essence saying, "God, don't give up this opportunity to receive the glory I will give You when You deliver me! If I die, I can't thank You for saving me from death!"
        David's distress renders him a perpetual fountain of tears. He wails for God to hear him, forgive him, heal him. He cries day and night in agony over his condition. There is no relief; he is severely ill. Has God turned His back on him? he wonders. Yet, in spite of David's doubtful feelings, God does see all of our tears and cares for us in all of our groanings. He does not desert us in our most difficult times; He is present there with us all the way through. Even though David didn't feel it, God was with him in his illness and did not reject him in his failures. Interestingly, tears cause the release of harmful stress-related toxins in the body, aiding in both physical and emotional recovery. (source) God gave us tears for times of trial. Don't be afraid to cry; God sees and cares.

"Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; for the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping. The LORD has heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled; let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly." (verses 8-10)

         Isaiah 38:5 says, "Go and tell Hezekiah, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years." Hezekiah was one of David's offspring, and also a king of Judah; he, like his "father", cried out to God in a great illness, and was heard. Perhaps he read this very psalm, written by his ancestral father, in his own distress and was bolstered his own faith. God has given us His Word, written by men like us, to show us His character and faithfulness, that we, too, may be strengthened in our faith. Romans 10:17 says, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Let God minister to you through His Word, and likewise be encouraged in your faith.
         David was confident that God had heard his prayer and extended His mercy to him; whatever his past sin and his present illness was, God, true to Himself, was merciful. David had human enemies that rejoiced in his failing health, seeking the opportunity to advance on the throne of Israel, whether from without or from within. They perhaps were Israelites who had spread rumours that David's sickness was the result of a lack of Divine blessing on their king, slandering his character and calling; or maybe, they were a rival nation that went out against Israel in battle, knowing that their great warrior king was too infirmed to fight or lead his people against them. Whatever the exact situation, David addresses those who wish him harm. He tells them, in essence, "Better get out of here now, because I am not going to die, and as you have been coming against God's annointed, God will come against you." He informs them that in spite of his own failings, God will have mercy on him simply because he trusts in His mercy. He does not defend his innocence. David's hope was always in God's mercy, not his own righteousness. Galatians 5:5 says, "For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith."  
        David is now confident not only that the LORD does not condemn him, but that He will also raise him up in health once more. He is assured in his heart of a full answer to his agonized prayers.  David had living faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." David declares this assurance even as he still lies ill in bed, surrounded by enemies. David knows his God, and is confident in His mercy. May we take God at His Word, and like David, trust in His mercy towards us in all our situations and trials in this life. He is always faithful!

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