‘My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord—how long?’
Whilst journaling their way through the book of Psalms, someone once noted, ‘What is it with these psalmists, anyway? They’re such a bunch of whiners!’
Reading the early chapters of the Book of Psalms, it can feel like that at times (oh boy — am I allowed to say that?)! These early passages can sound just like that person who you try to avoid sitting with during your lunch break, because by the time you’ve finished your slightly soggy sandwich your heart will feel just as wilted by their latest tale of woe.
However, before we start avoiding these early chapters and go off mining for more positive psalms in the later chapters, let’s just stop for one moment and see something deeply provoking about this psalm. How often do we bury our heads when life crashes around us? How often do we stop attending Life Group (or whatever your church calls midweek discipleship communities), Sunday mornings and most certainly the prayer meetings? How often has our Bible gathered dust and prayer become the thing that there just isn’t time for? Here in Psalm 6 we see a man who has learnt to walk close to God through life’s twists and turns. That doesn’t mean having a blind, unquestioning faith. Just listen to some of pleas of this psalmist’s heart:
‘O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled… ‘ (v 1-2)
This psalm is filled with the earthy reality of life. David models for us how our hearts and mouths should be filled with god-ward communication — prayer — in those seasons when we face grave uncertainties and painful experiences. The result may not be pretty or eloquent but, as we choose to walk through these seasons of life close to God, something beautiful and powerful happens as we lean into our relationship with him. Listen to the contrast of the last few verses of this psalm:
‘Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.’ (v 8-10)