Praying the Psalms: Psalm 6

The Psalms are not just songs, but prayers. By studying the Psalms we can learn how to better pray and engage in communion with God. Each Thursday I’ll be posting a commentary and prayer guide for the Psalms to help us learn and practice prayer. One of the greatest gifts God can give any man or woman is brokenness. It is a precious gift when God shows us just how despicable, defiling, and shameful our sin really is. David is in just such a situation. This is another Psalm of lament that tends to be in response to some horrific consequences of his personal sin. Psalm 6 is a desperate emotional plea to God for help and expresses the desperate cry of a broken man. As we study this Psalm we will see David model for us brokenness and repentance as he mourns his sin.

Commentary

v. 1-3 - David begins his psalm in a desperate plea for mercy. He begins his prayer immediately confessing his failures and overwhelmed by his costly sin. David knows that because of his sin the Lord is right to be angry and wrathful. David recognizes what many today fail to understand. God is a holy and just God and our sins are infinitely offensive to him. In our modern world today sin is often minimized or out right rejected. Right and wrong is largely thought to be personal choice, and flexible depending upon the individual. Some would even deny the category of evil and sin and reject any moral absolutes that are binding on all humanity. As culture has either minimized human sin or out right rejected it, it gives us an inflated picture of ourselves. Because sin is denied, we think that as human beings we are good people and if we make a mistake its really not a big deal.

Yet, an accurate view of ourselves is not determined by our own wishful perception, but by seeing ourselves in light of the perfection of God. When we compare our lives to the radiant purity and unblemished holiness of God, we fall woefully short. In David's prayer of lament and confession he does not minimize it. He does not excuse it or seek to justify it. Rather, he comes before the Lord broken, desperate, and pleading for grace underserved.

As we think about our own sin we must seek to imitate David, agree with what God says about our sin and plead for mercy. When we see our sin as God sees it, that conviction is gloriously terrifying. Our bones a troubled. Our soul is troubled. To remain under the weight of our own sin is a frightening reality that most are oblivious too. To recognize the terror of the coming just wrath of God might cause our bones to quiver, but it is often a sign of God's grace to lead us to repentance. David's awareness of his sin leads his guilt burdened heart before the Lord to beg for mercy.

v 4-5 - Here David asks for deliverance. Knowing that it is undeserved, David does not let that hinder his bold plea for grace and forgiveness. David pleas that his life might be delivered from his circumstances and from the consequences his sins have brought him. One of the more curious things that David prayers for as he pleads with God to save him is found in v. 5. He tells God that he will not be able to praise him from the grave (Sheol) so he pleads for God's deliverance on the grounds for God's glory. In other words David tells the Lord, "you will be more glorified, worshiped, and praised in my deliverance than in my destruction!"

Indeed, David's words are truer than he realizes. God is glorified in his just wrath being displayed on sinners, but he is exceptionally glorified in his redemption of sinners. This is why Jesus came to deliver us from our sins. Jesus stands in the gap absorbing the righteous wrathful anger of God in our place in order to deliver us from death and bring us into life. God is supremely glorified as he redeems sinners by the blood of his own son.

v. 6-7 - These two verses are emotionally charged with David's complete brokenness. His is mourning, moaning, and weeping over his sin. He tells us every night his bed floods with tears. His coach is soaked from the crying. His eyes are tired, sore, and drained because of his grief. David had no problem at all expressing his emotions and weeping over his sin. In David, we receive a vivid picture of what it means to mourn over sin.

Mourning over personal sin is one of the great marks of a believer in Jesus Christ. It is one of the most vivid and tangible fruits of a person who has truly been born again. In order to become a Christian we must mourn and lament over our sin. This is why Jesus in the sermon on the mount outlines the first two beatitudes as he does. The first one expresses a recognition of our poverty of spirt. In other words, to be under the kingdom rule of Jesus is to recognize just how broken and sinful we really are. We are not blinded by pride, self-sufficiency, and moralism. We recognize our desperate brokenness. However, the key is not only to recognize our spiritual poverty but to mourn over it. This leads us to that second great beatitude, "Blessed are those who mourn".

Why is it a blessed thing to mourn over our sin like David so vividly illustrates here? It is because those who recognize and mourn over their sin means we are so very close to the Kingdom of God. If we do not recognize we need a savior, than we will not look for one. Spiritual brokenness leads us to seek a savior who fills us with the righteousness, peace, and salvation that we so desperately need. Our spiritual desperation leads us to Jesus himself as our only hope.

Conviction of sin is the great work of the Holy Spirit and a great gift of God. To experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit is a wonderful divine work within your heart. That conviction leads us to the cross of Christ as we place our sorrows on the blood stained man of sorrows hanging by nails on a cross. Though our eyes waste away in our tears over our sin, we find restoration and hope in Christ.

v. 8-10 - The second half of that second beatitude is key. Jesus tells us, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted". It is God's delight to minister to the broken hearted and comfort them in the salvation he provides by grace. He hears our plea for help and provides Jesus as a refuge from his wrath and peace for our troubled souls.

In these last few verses we see David filled with confidence towards his enemies as he stands assured of the God who hears his prayers. The Lord hears the sound of the broken hearted. He sees the tears of those who realize they are not good enough. He hears the desperate plea of people who are helpless and unable to deliver themselves. For those under the weight of their own sin, God is eager to hear the prayers of those who ask forgiveness through his son.

For those who have called out to God in faith through Jesus, there is a confidence that results from the comfort of Divine grace. The psalm concludes with a shift from the beginning. At the start of the Psalm it was David who was "troubled". At the end, David concludes that it is his enemies who should be "troubled". Our great enemy, the serpent who accuses sinners and deceived them to corruption, causes great trouble on humanity. Now, by the grace of God's salvation in Jesus, the trouble is reversed. Through the death and resurrection of the Son of God he has removed our trouble from us and crushed the head of the powers of darkness dealing the fatal blow to sin and death.

Prayer Guide

  • Confess your sin before the Lord. How have you failed? In what areas are you disobeying? What consequences are you enduring because of your sin?
  • Call out to God and plead for deliverance and life. Ask him to save you, redeem you, and restore you.
  • Lament, weep, and mourn to God in your prayer. Do not be afraid to show God the deep recesses of your brokenness as you pray to him.
  • Praise the Lord that God comforts the mourning through Jesus. Thank God for the cross and for salvation only through Jesus.
  • Praise the Lord that he has delivered you from your great enemy of sin and death and praise him that he rescues you from your spiritual trouble.

How Jesus Handled Grief

 

Jesus Experienced Grief

Losing someone we love really hurts. Grief often takes over and like a vine, begins to choke the life out of our soul. Our emotions are numb. Tears don't seem to stop. All we want to do is be alone and be by ourselves. Losing a family member or a friend is a very personal and emotional experience. Even Jesus himself experienced the gamut of emotions that comes with losing a friend. When Jesus' friend Lazarus dies, he weeps. Even though he knew he would raise Lazarus back to life, he was still overwhelmed with emotion that he just began to cry. Jesus teaches us that it is ok to grieve. It is ok to cry.

Jesus not only lost his good friend Lazarus to death, he also lost his dear friend and cousin, John the Baptist. John the Baptist died a terrible death. John was arrested by Herod, because John was vocally disapproving of Herod's sin. However, after the debase Herod watched a teenage girl's seductive dance, he gave her the opportunity to ask for anything. At the influencing of her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist. John the Baptist, whom Jesus called the greatest born of men, died by beheading at the request of a teenage girl. John's disciples took care of burying his body and they went to tell Jesus.

Jesus Responds to Grief

In Matthew 14:13, we are told that when Jesus heard the news about John, he got on a boat and went to head to a desolate place. You see, Jesus was grieving. He was heartbroken to hear what happened to John. And Jesus wanted to just spend some time alone, praying and thinking. You have to wonder what thoughts were running through Jesus mind when he heard the news. I imagine that he must be thinking about his mission, the cross. Jesus knows that what happened to John the Baptist is going to happen to him. Jesus knows that he came to die for the sins of humanity, and he knows that the cross is coming. I'm sure hearing about the death of John made Jesus painfully aware of his coming death, and filled with emotion, he just wanted to be alone with His father.

So Jesus gets in the boat and heads to a desolate place. However, the crowd hears where Jesus is going. So they travel by foot and meet Jesus on the other side. As Jesus is approaching the shore, he sees the crowds gather, waiting for him to arrive. You almost feel kind of sorry for Jesus. The guy just wants to get away to mourn the loss of his friend, and he can't get away. Life is like that isn't it? It never slows down. You lose your family member or friend and your back at work the next day like nothing ever happened. All you want to do is get away and be by yourself and grieve, but the demands of life don't allow it. Life just moves to fast.

Put yourself in Jesus' shoes for a second. How would you respond to seeing the crowd on the shore? You might think, "Really God, ministry now, I just want to be alone!". You might even hate these people, wishing they would just all go away. However Jesus doesn't respond in either ways. Jesus sees the crowd and he has compassion on them and he immediately got to work healing their sick. Although Jesus grieves the loss of his dear friend, his grief empowers him for ministry. In the midst of his emotional pain, Jesus turned outward instead of inward. Rather than turning in on himself and thinking "woe is me", he turns outward to serve and to love the crowds.

Our Grief Empowers us for Ministry

What does Jesus tell us about how to handle grief? He tells us that we must use our grief for ministry. We must be so very careful that in our mourning we don't turn our sorrow in to self-pity and loathing. Our sorrow empowers us to love and serve others. All that hurt, all those emotions you feel, take them and use them to show compassion on people who desperately need the love of Jesus. In your brokenness, God is able to use you to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. In your desperation, your dependence on Jesus serves as a powerful testimony to this lost and dying world. It is ok to grieve. It is ok to cry. It is good to mourn for lost loved ones, but may our emotions turn outwards to radical, Gospel driven, compassion.