Psalm 6:3
My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
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(3) But thou, O Lord, how long?—Comp. Psalm 90:13. This is “belief in unbelief.” Domine quousque was Calvin’s motto. The most intense grief, it was said, could never extract from him another word. In its national form this faith amid despair is shown in Zechariah 1:12. (Comp Revelation 6:10.)

Psalm 6:3. My soul is sore vexed — Partly by sympathy with my body, and partly with the burden of my sins, and the sense of thine anger, and my own danger and misery. O Lord, how long? — Wilt thou suffer me to lie and languish in this condition? or, as the Chaldee paraphrast supplies the ellipses, How long wilt thou defer to give me some refreshment?

6:1-7 These verses speak the language of a heart truly humbled, of a broken and contrite spirit under great afflictions, sent to awaken conscience and mortify corruption. Sickness brought sin to his remembrance, and he looked upon it as a token of God's displeasure against him. The affliction of his body will be tolerable, if he has comfort in his soul. Christ's sorest complaint, in his sufferings, was of the trouble of his soul, and the want of his Father's smiles. Every page of Scripture proclaims the fact, that salvation is only of the Lord. Man is a sinner, his case can only be reached by mercy; and never is mercy more illustrious than in restoring backsliders. With good reason we may pray, that if it be the will of God, and he has any further work for us or our friends to do in this world, he will yet spare us or them to serve him. To depart and be with Christ is happiest for the saints; but for them to abide in the flesh is more profitable for the church.My soul is also sore vexed - The word "soul" here is used in the sense in which it is commonly with us, as denoting the mind. The idea is, that his sorrows were not merely those of the bodily frame. They had a deeper seat than even the bones. His mind, his soul, was full of anguish also, in view of the circumstances which surrounded him, and which had brought on these bodily afflictions.

But thou, O Lord - This is a broken sentence, as if he had commenced an address to God, but did not complete it. It is as if he had said, "Here I suffer and languish; my sorrows are deep and unmitigated; as for thee, O Lord" - as if he were about to say that he had hoped God would interpose; or, that his dealings were mysterious; or, that they seemed strange or severe; but he ends the sentence by no language of complaint or complaining, but by simply asking "how long" these sorrows were to continue.

How long? - That is, how long wilt thou leave me thus to suffer? How long shall my unmitigated anguish continue? How long will it be ere thou wilt interpose to relieve me? The language implies that in his apprehension it was already a long time - as time usually seems long to a sufferer (compare Job 7:2-4), and that he was constantly looking out for God to interpose and help him. This is language such as all persons may be inclined to use on beds of pain and languishing. It seems indeed long to them now; it will, however, seem short when they look back upon it from the glories of the heavenly world. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

3. how long?—shall this be so (compare Ps 79:5).

but—or, "and."

thou—The sentence is incomplete as expressive of strong emotion.

My soul is also sore vexed; partly by sympathy with my body; and partly with the burden of my sins, and the sense of thine anger, and my own danger and misery.

How long wilt thou suffer me to lie and languish in this condition? It is a figure called aposiopesis, very agreeable to men in pain or anguish, who use to cut their words short.

My soul is also sore vexed,.... Or "exceedingly troubled" (c), and even frightened and thrown into a consternation with indwelling sin, and on account of actual transgressions, and by reason of the hidings of God's face, and through the temptations of Satan, and because of the fear of death; to which Old Testament saints were very incident.

But thou, O Lord, how long? it is an abrupt expression, the whole he designed is not spoken, being hindered through the grief and sorrow with which his heart was overwhelmed; and is to be supplied after this manner,

"shall I have refreshment?''

as the Chaldee paraphrase; or,

"wilt thou look and not heal me?''

as Jarchi; or

"my soul be troubled?''

as Aben Ezra; or

"shall I be afflicted, and thou wilt not heal me?''

as Kimchi; or

"wilt thou afflict me, and not arise to my help?''

see Psalm 13:1.

(c) "turbata est valde", V. L. "conturbata", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "territa valde": Pagninus, Montanus; "consternata valde", Cocceius.

{c} My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?

(c) His conscience is also touched with the fear of God's judgment.

3. Mind as well as body, the inner self as well as its outer organism, is dismayed. Our Lord appropriates these words, in view of His approaching Passion (John 12:27), using the Greek word (ταράσσειν) employed by the LXX.

how long?] Cp. Psalm 90:13. How pregnant is the aposiopesis! How long wilt Thou be angry? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face and refuse to hear me? Cp. Psalm 13:1.

It is recorded of Calvin in his last painful illness that he uttered no word of complaint unworthy of a Christian man; only raising his eyes to heaven he would say Usquequo Domine (Lord, how long?) for even when he was in health, this was a kind of watchword with him, in reference to the troubles of the brethren (Vita: Opp. Tom. 1).

Verse 3. - My soul is also sore vexed. It is not, however, the body alone which suffers; the soul also is vexed, and vexed greatly (מְאֹד). Clearly the main emphasis is intended to be laid on the mental suffering. But thou, O Lord, how long! We may fill up the ellipse in various ways: "How long wilt thou look on?" "How long wilt thou hide thyself?" "How long wilt thou be angry?" (see Psalm 34:17; Psalm 79:5; Psalm 89:46). Or again, "How long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear?" (Habakkuk 1:2). The cry is that of one wearied out with long suffering (comp. Psalm 90:13). Psalm 6:3(Heb.: 6:2-4) There is a chastisement which proceeds from God's love to the man as being pardoned and which is designed to purify or to prove him, and a chastisement which proceeds from God's wrath against the man as striving obstinately against, or as fallen away from, favour, and which satisfies divine justice. Psalm 94:12; Psalm 118:17; Proverbs 3:11. speak of this loving chastisement. The man who should decline it, would act against his own salvation. Accordingly David, like Jeremiah (Jeremiah 10:24), does not pray for the removal of the chastisement but of the chastisement in wrath, or what is the same thing, of the judgment proceeding from wrath [Zorngericht]. בּאפּך and בּחמתך stand in the middle, between אל and the verbs, for the sake of emphasis. Hengstenberg indeed finds a different antithesis here. He says: "The contrast is not that of chastisement in love with chastisement in wrath, but that of loving rescue in contrast with chastisement, which always proceeds from the principle of wrath." If what is here meant is, that always when God chastens a man his wrath is the true and proper motive, it is an error, for the refutation of which one whole book of the Bible, viz., the Book of Job, has been written. For there the friends think that God is angry with Job; but we know from the prologue that, so far from being angry with him, he on the contrary glories in him. Here, in this Psalm, assuming David to be its author, and his adultery the occasion of it, it is certainly quite otherwise. The chastisement under which David is brought low, has God's wrath as its motive: it is punitive chastisement and remains such, so long as David remains fallen from favour. But if in sincere penitence he again struggles through to favour, then the punitive becomes a loving chastisement: God's relationship to him becomes an essentially different relationship. The evil, which is the result of his sin and as such indeed originates in the principle of wrath, becomes the means of discipline and purifying which love employs, and this it is that he here implores for himself. And thus Dante Alighieri

(Note: Provided he is the author of I stte Salmi Penitenziali trasportati alla volgar poesia, vid., Dante Alighieri's Lyric poems, translated and annotated by Kannegiesser and Witte (1842) i. 203f., ii.208f.)

correctly and beautifully paraphrases the verse:

Signor, non mi riprender con furore,

E non voler correggermi con ira,

Ma con dolcezza e con perfetto amore.

In חנּני David prays God to let him experience His loving-kindness and tender mercy in place of the punishment He has a right to inflict; for anguish of soul has already reduced him to the extreme even of bodily sickness: he is withered up and weary. אמלל has Pathach, and consequently seems to be the 3 pers. Pul. as in Joel 1:10; Nahum 1:4; but this cannot be according to the rules of grammar. It is an adjective, like רענן, שׁאנן, with the passive pointing. The formation אמלל (from אמל Arab. aml, with the primary meaning to stretch out lengthwise) is analogous to the IX and XI forms of the Arabic verb which serve especially to express colours and defects (Caspari 59). The two words אני אמלל have the double accent Mercha-Mahpach together, and according to the exact mode of writing (vid., Baer in my Psalter ii. 492) the Mahpach, (the sign resembling Mahpach or rather Jethib), ought to stand between the two words, since it at the same time represents the Makkeph. The principal tone of the united pair, therefore, lies on aani; and accordingly the adj. אמלל is shortened to אמלל (cf. אדמדּם, הפכפּך, מרמס, and the like) - a contraction which proves that אמלל is not treated as part. Pul. ( equals מאמלל), for its characteristic a4 is unchangeable. The prayer for healing is based upon the plea that his bones (Job 4:14; Isaiah 38:13) are affrighted. We have no German word exactly corresponding to this נבהל which (from the radical notion "to let go," cogn. בּלהּ) expresses a condition of outward overthrow and inward consternation, and is therefore the effect of fright which disconcerts one and of excitement that deprives one of self-control.

(Note: We have translated Dr. Delitzsch's word erschrecht literally - the vexed of the Authorized Version seems hardly equal to the meaning.)

His soul is still more shaken than his body. The affliction is therefore not a merely bodily ailment in which only a timorous man loses heart. God's love is hidden from him. God's wrath seems as though it would wear him completely away. It is an affliction beyond all other afflictions. Hence he enquires: And Thou, O Jahve, how long?! Instead of אתה it is written את, which the Ker says is to be read אתּה, while in three passages (Numbers 11:15; Deuteronomy 5:24; Ezekiel 28:14) אתּ is admitted as masc.

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