To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David. O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
I. Consider that the principle on which we are less ready than of old to rush to confession under natural national calamities of an ordinary type is a just and noble one, and is a sign of vital progress in our theological conceptions, and our view of our relation to the world and to God. The varied experiences through which we live and work, and in which we are always far more ready to moan when we are cast down than to praise when we are exalted, are parts of a great harmony of blessing which we should only mar and destroy if we could break the sequence and readjust it as we please. The proneness to recognise in natural calamities the chastisements of an angry God, who is scourging us to repentance, springs really out of a narrow and selfish view of God's dealings with us and with mankind.
II. Note that this progress in the Christian thought of our times runs parallel to the progress in our conceptions of the true nature and the subject-matter of prayer, which is the fruit of growing knowledge and experience in the individual believing soul. As experience widens and deepens, prayer becomes, or ought to become, less a cry of pain and more an act of communion, intercourse with the Father in heaven, whereby His strength, His serenity, His hope, flow into and abide in our hearts.
III. I by no means say that, even in an advanced state of Christian intelligence, there may not be natural national calamities under which it would be wise and right for a nation to humble itself in confession and supplication before God. There may occur calamities so sudden, so terrible, so overwhelming, that a whole nation is plunged into profound and poignant distress. The best safeguard against panic in such a case is national confession and supplication, the best way to assure the blessing and to purge the calamity of all its dread. We need more, not less, national prayer, but of a nobler type, the type in which the trust has mastered the terror. "What time I am afraid," I will not wail, or moan, or wrestle for an instant deliverance, but calmly trust in, and patiently wait for, Thee.
J. Baldwin Brown, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 257.
Psalm 6:6I. The feeling that he was suffering God's rebuke, smarting under God's correction, was at once a comfort and a grief to the Psalmist: a comfort when he remembered the loving wisdom that corrected him; a grief when he called to mind the sinful ingratitude that needed correction. It is by the depth and reality, yea the passion and abandon, with which he utters the profoundest feelings of the pious heart, that David has moved so mightily the soul and spirit of the world. When fault is found with him because he does not choose to treat suffering—his own or others—as a plaything or an accident, let it be asked which of these two is the more real man—he who acts magnanimity while he is secretly breaking his heart, or he who owns to God that he is heart and spirit-broken, that he may get strength and healing from on high. If in abolishing pain I quench at the same time sensibility, I may indeed have vanquished sorrow, but I have also destroyed myself; it is not I—it is a petrifaction that triumphs. That therefore is the best system and practice, not which most readily abolishes the pain of sorrow and contrition, but which, on the contrary, makes either of these most fruitful of human excellence.
II. If then sorrow, when viewed in relation to its uses, so far from being an evil, is acknowledged to be a good, the only question which remains is this: How can we best apply it to those uses? how can we most successfully obtain its sweetness while extracting its sting? (1) By acknowledging its existence, yes and its right to exist so long as there is sin in our hearts or suffering in the world. (2) By acknowledging our inevitable human weakness, and so bringing the tale of sorrow and suffering to the ear of our Saviour and our God. Own the fact of your dependence, and seek by faith the grace to stay your human weakness on the omnipotent arm of Christ, and seek a supply from the abundance of the riches of His grace.
Bishop Moorhouse, Penny Pulpit, No. 453.
Psalm 6:10I. Consider those passages in the Bible which are constantly objected to as most inconsistent with toleration—I mean the so-called imprecatory portions of the Psalms. (1) I see little reason for considering these Psalms as the utterance of David's longing for personal revenge. It is not likely that he should keep malice and anger hoarded up in his soul, and relieve himself of it in the moments when he held communion with his God, cursing just as he saw by faith the battlements of the city of eternal peace. (2) When, under the old covenant, earthly prosperity was the portion of the wicked, and earthly adversity of the pious, the whole moral government of God seemed to be veiled in clouds and darkness. The very fact that immortality was not clearly discovered to him made the pious Israelite long more passionately for the speedy shining forth of God's power and justice. (3) We must interpret every book by the mind of the author. If so, we must apply this to the Bible, and to the Psalms. Their real Author is the Holy Spirit. It is remarkable that in the first chapter of the Acts the very strongest of these imprecations is applied as a prophecy to the betrayer of our Lord.
II. Notice two passages in the New Testament which give us the very type of the tolerance and the intolerance of the Gospel. For its tolerance, read Luke 9:40, etc. The two incidents inculcate toleration, ecclesiastical and civil, on the spiritual and on the material side. For its intolerance, see 2 John 1:10 : "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed." This can have no other meaning than that "the elect lady and her children" should show no kindly hospitality to impugners of the Incarnation. (1) St. John, living when and where he did, realised as we can scarcely do that "the world lieth wholly in wickedness." (2) He saw as we do not, that its best hope lay in the Incarnation, and so the man who went about bringing men to deny this was the enemy of the human race. (3) The honour of Jesus was dear to His Apostles. In the estimate of him who wrote, "The Word was God," to deny that Jesus was the God-Man was to question His legitimacy and impugn His truth.
III. Let me commend to you the spirit of tolerance (1) to all whom our Church tolerates; (2) towards those that are without.
Bishop Alexander, The Great Question, p. 106.
We may get the meaning and help of this Psalm by asking, How did David conduct himself in the time of sickness and trouble?
I. He made his sorrow a question between himself and God. Set it down as a stern fact that there is a moral secret under the whole figure and movement of human life. Wherever you find disorder you find sin.
II. Proceeding from this point, David seeks to make things right between himself and God. In all trouble go first in self-reproach to God, and get at the causes of things.
III. In the third place, David feels that if the Lord's hand be removed he can bear all other troubles. (1) The pain of trouble is in the feeling that it is deserved. (2) Take away the righteousness of the suffering, and then suffering is as an open door into our life, through which the angels come.
IV. David approaches God in utter self-renunciation. There is no word of self-defence as before God. This is needful in all prayer that is meant to prevail.
V. David prays the more earnestly because his afflictions have brought him within sight of the grave and the world unseen. He would not enter the valley without a sense of forgiveness. Who would? We must enter that dark valley; we enter it either forgiven or unpardoned.
Parker, The Ark of God, p. 132.
References: Psalm 6—I. Williams, The Psalms Interpreted of Christ, p. 145; P. Thomson, Expositor, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 243.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.
Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.
The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.
Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.