I’m thankful for Psalm 1.
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
I’m thankful for Psalm 23.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
But I’m also thankful for Psalm 6–an ancient Hebrew poem with a very different tone–because sometimes our souls feel like they are withering. At various, very real times, it’s a struggle to find the light. The valley is deep. The path forward is steep, dark, and uncertain. The shepherd seems distant while the wolves seem to be everywhere. We feel forgotten; the wicked seem to be winning. We struggle to hope; their scoffing only grows louder. If all of that hits close to home today, Psalm 6 is worth a serious look.
In 6:2, David describes himself as “languishing.”
My bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
How deep into the dark valley had David descended?
I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes. (6:6-7)
Troubled and grieved. Weary and languishing. What can you do in such tumultuous times? How can you possibly pray when your soul is in such turmoil, and where do you even begin? Behold, the value of Psalm 6.
Notice that David doesn’t address his distress with a vain attempt to redefine or change the character of God.
O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath. (6:1)
We can’t change the nature of our Creator. In fact, we are the ones in desperate need of refinement, transformation, and renewal, not him. Anger and wrath, rebuke and discipline are appropriate manifestations of his perfect holiness. While that truth revealed in verse 1 may be unpopular with some shortsighted human beings, it’s actually the bedrock on which the beautiful opportunity of verse 2 is founded.
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…
David is honest about his present distress, but his heart is also anchored to a God greater than any tempest, fear, or foe.
He is the God who hears.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.
The LORD has heard my plea… (6:8-9)
He is the God who cares.
…the LORD accepts my prayer. (6:9)
He is the God who is able.
Turn, O LORD, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love. (6:4)
He is the God who heals. No, it’s not the character of this perfect Creator that needs work. Mercy and truth, anger and wrath, rebuke and discipline, righteousness and justice, steadfast love and grace–these are the very foundation stones of his holy throne. We are the rebellious wanderers. How many of the unsettling storms of our past or present are tempests of our own stirring? But praise God–even in the midst of the messes we’ve had an ample hand in making–we can pray right along with David, “Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing.”
You probably won’t find Psalm 6 emblazoned on a coffee cup or stitched into a couch pillow any time soon, but maybe it’s just the ray of light you needed for today. You have a Creator. He sees. He hears. He cares. He’s gracious and able to heal. Yes, you may be languishing at the moment in circumstances you can’t control or change, but his love is steadfast. His grace is real, and he is nearer than most of us imagine. Anchor your heart to his. Hope in him, especially when your soul is greatly troubled.