Monday, May 01, 2017

Psalm 6 uses / prayer / notes

One of the things one is meant to do an a sabbatical is read the Bible and pray. I have been at it for a week now, and I spent sometime last week in Psalm 6. Some jottings on that below. May be somewhat repetitious!

Tomorrow I hope to start in earnest on some study on Scripture and the Supper, but I hope to keep a Psalm of the Week ticking over in the background so DV some notes on Psalm 7 (maybe more briefly!) this time next week.

(This week I'm going to organise my notes more by the vv of the Psalm rather than where I got them from!)

Psalm 6 Notes

An anguished prayer for mercy and deliverance.

Turn to me in mercy, O LORD, and turn my enemies back in disgrace.

Uses of the Psalm:

In a time of crisis / illness / when facing opposition / when in anguish or fear / worn out or sleepless

When God seems not to answer / act

When suffering seems too much to cope with

Looking to God for mercy / deliverance / forgiveness / help

Arguments to use with God in prayer

A prayer based on the Psalm:

Father God,

Thank you that you always hear us when we pray in Jesus’ name.

Thank you for your undeserved, unfailing, covenant keeping love.

May might life be one of praise which glorifies you.

Please have mercy on me: help me, deliver me.

Grant me relief from my enemies, health and strength and restoring sleep.

Even if I come to the end of all my strength and all hope seems gone, cause me still to look to you with humble faith.

Help me to have nothing to do with evil.

May I look to you with confidence to vindicate and save me.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. 

What the Psalmist asks for:

Do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath (v1)

Be merciful to me (v2)

Heal me (v2)

Physical suffering (v2) – “my bones are in agony”

Spiritual suffering (v3) – “my soul is in anguish”

Deliverance / help (v4)

Salvation (v4)

V7 – foes / enemies v10, evil doers (v8)

Why asks for it:

The Psalmist’s weakness and need (v2-3, v6-7)

God’s own character – his unfailing love (v4)

God’s praise and glory (v5) – How would the Psalmist’s death benefit God?

Confidence in coming vindication (v10)

The Psalmist sees his desperate need very clearly

He has come to the end of his own resources

His hope is in God alone

How does the superscription affect our reading of the Psalm?

Sheminith – lit. an 8th – musical term? 8 stringed instrument? For the 8th company leading the ark in 1 Chron 15:21

An individual Psalm to be sung by the (temple?) community

Of David

V1 – some particular sin on David’s conscience or not?

Vv2-3 – a physical illness?

What is the relationship between David’s sin, suffering, illness and enemies?

Goldingay – the enemies like Job’s comforters despising and blaming David because of his sickness?

Illness and anguish and opposition part of the normal experience of authentic believers

Vv1-2 – The Psalmist knows he is a sinner who deserves God’s judgement

God is rightly angry with him

He has no claim on God – no merit to offer

V4 – Turn, O Yahweh

V8 – turn away from me all workers of wickedness

V10 – all my enemies will turn back in sudden disgrace

Because Yahweh turns to me, my enemies will be turned away

God sometimes allows his people to really go through the mill, to be extremely distressed, at the end of their tether, hopeless apart from him

God our only remaining hope, a last hope

Dale Ralph Davis, The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life (Christian Focus) – own translation

David dives straight in with petition – no ACTS prayer here

(1) The agony he knows (vv1-3)

This is the mess I’m in!

The psalmist’s agony is fed by:

(a) The problem of wrath (v1)

(b) The problem of weakness (v2)

Wiped out

(c) The problem of fear (vv2b-3a)

Terrified (2b-3a)

Both his bones and his soul terrified – his whole person affected

(d) The problem of time (v3b)

What’s the hold up, God?

What are you waiting for?

I can’t hold on any longer.

Why don’t you intervene?

God not respecting our schedule, our plans, our ideas of what he should do (cf. Jesus waiting when he hears Lazarus is sick)

“Our troubles, it seems, are as much with God as with our circumstances.” (Davis, p75)

When it seems God is angry with us and we are experiencing his displeasure, we must nevertheless go to him for grace.

There is nowhere else to go

Is 19:22 – The same God who strikes also heals

(2) The argument he brings (vv4-7)

(a) The God I have (v4)

Hesed (v4) – covenant love

2 Sam 22:51

Ex 34:6

Appeal to God’s promise and character

(b) The praise I give (v5)

David is assuming that the whole purpose of his life is to praise Yahweh

(c) The misery I know (vv6-7)

Looking to God for pity, compassion – our plight touches God’s heart

Whilst this is a highly emotional prayer, it also uses arguments with God – “Argument in prayer shows that we are called to thinking worship” (Davis, p80)

(3) The assurance he finds (vv8-10)

A present assurance of coming deliverance

The LORD hears the sound of our weeping – cf. Rom 8:26

Is 38:5 – God sees tears

Heb 5:7 – Jesus’ prayer with loud cries and tears were heard

* * *

Derek Kidner, Tyndale OT Commentary

1st of the penitential Pss – 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143

V6 onwards, no petition, weeping then faith

Cf. title of Ps 3 – same context?

“the Psalm gives words to those who scarcely have the heart to pray, and brings then within sight of victory” (Kidner, p61)

(1) Vv1-5, Turn, O Lord

Troubled, same word as in Gen 45:3 (Joseph’s brothers terrified at his presence) and Judges 20:41

Bones and soul also in 35:9f

(2) Vv6-7, My weeping

(3) Vv8-10, The Lord has heard

V8, Cf. Mt 7:23, depart from me you evil doers

* * *

Michael Wilcock, BST

Great emotional intensity and turmoil, but also artistry and a prayer of lasting value to others

Set written prayers do not imply falsity

Spontaneity not the same as deep and authentic spirituality

Chiasmus vv2-3

Lord, heal me

            My bones suffer

            My soul suffers

How long, Lord?

Bone ‘esem can mean (it)self, same, very e.g. Ex 24:10, Lev 23:21; Ex 12:17

Bahel, suffer, of bones and soul and enemies 3x in vv2, 3, 10 – the NIV manages to translate the word in 3 different ways

Sheminith – eighth – an octave interval stringed instrument?

“his sin: he needs God’s mercy (vv2 and 9) and he fears God’s anger (v1)” Kidner, p32

V8 not peevish but the imperious words of the king

V5 – remembers – memorials not memories, commemorates

Even in the midst of great trouble, the Psalmist recognises the priority of praising God and of magnifying His name

From desperation to renewed confidence

Jn 12:27, “my heart is troubled” echoes v3

David and Christ show us the pattern of all Christian experience of suffering followed by vindication

* * *

Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms

Cf. vv4 and 10 – the reversal of the letters reflects the reversal the words describe

7 penitential Pss traditionally used in Lent

Bahal (v2), shaking in dismay – inner panic as well as outer trembling

V3, Jesus in Gethsemane takes up these words - Mk 14:34

V3 – disjointed “How long?” – stark and urgent – also in Ps 90:13; Is 6:11; Jer 23:26

V7 – “my eye has wasted away through aggression” – cf. English, “I cried my eyes out”

Vv8 and 9 – Yahweh has heard both my weeping and my prayer

V10 repetition of be shamed

“The double “shaming” [of v10] follows on the double “listening” [of vv8-9], and their great shaking [v10] corresponds to the suppliant’s double shaking [vv2-3]. The “turn” of v10 corresponds to the “turn” of v4, and whereas v3 asked “How long?” now the suppliant knows the shaming will come “instantly.”” (Goldingay, p141)

Luther comments on this Psalm: “No one who has not been profoundly terrified and forsaken prays profoundly.” (Selected Psalms 3:141)

* * *

Motyer, Psalms by the Day

Deep Danger, Great Deliverance

A1 The terrified soul (vv1-3)

B1 The first desire: the returning Yahweh (vv4-5)

C Sorrow upon sorrow (vv6-7)

B2 The second desire: departing foes (vv8-9)

A2 The terrified enemies (v10)

V2, bones, the whole frame in its stability and resilience – David feels his body can’t take it any more

V6 I flood my bed, literally I cause it to swim, I saturate it

V6, dissolve, Joshua 14:8; Ps 39:11; 147:18

V7 ashash, 31:9, 10

V9 – Yahweh and prayer stressed

V10, be shamed, all their hopes disappointed

* * *

Feeling my lack of Hebrew

Trying to do some work on Psalm 6 today, I have really felt my lack of Hebrew. Or at least the desire for a consistent word for word translation.

As Michael Wilcock points out in The Bible Speaks Today Commentary, the NIV manages to translate bahel, “suffer” (of bones and soul and enemies 3x in vv2, 3, 10) in 3 different ways.

And of course if one’s translation doesn’t go in for word for wordness, maybe when there are repeated words they don’t reflect the original. Arrgh!

We are presumably meant to pay attention to the repetition and patterning that John Goldingay points out, and to do that we linguistic slow-learners need a translation that brings it out:

“The double “shaming” [of v10] follows on the double “listening” [of vv8-9], and their [the enemies’] great shaking [v10] corresponds to the suppliant’s double shaking [vv2-3]. The “turn” of v10 corresponds to the “turn” of v4, and whereas v3 asked “How long?” now the suppliant knows the shaming will come “instantly.”” (Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, p141)

* * *

Wilson, NIV Application Commentary

Invocation of God (vv1-5)

3 subsections with parallel grammatical structures: v1, vv2-3, vv4-5

Rebuke (v1) – legal term for find to be in the wrong

“Yahweh is viewed at once as both threat and hope” (p178)

V2, hnn, be merciful, lit. be gracious, show favour

‘umlal can be used of withering up vegetation – Is 16:8

Bhl, in agony, terrified out of one’s senses – fear in my very bone

V3 – Yahweh is clearly his only hope

V3b – almost an accusation - “You can almost hear the exclamation points after every word” (p179)

The Torment of Suffering (vv6-7)

Confrontation of Foes (vv8-10)

V8 - Cf. the evil doers of 5:5

Spurgeon, Treasuring of David

Expresses aspects of penitence: sorrow (vv3, 6, 7), humiliation (vv2, 4) and hatred of sin (v8)

Turning point at the end of v7 from plea to confidence in deliverance

V1 - Cf. Jeremiah, “correct me, but with judgement not in your anger”

Chasten me not in anger but in covenant love, sweeten your chastening of me, may it be for my good not for my ruin!

V2 - I droop!, I am withered

V2 – my bones are shaken

“Soul-trouble is the very soul of trouble” (Spurgeon, p57)

V3b – abrupt, words fail him

God is behind and in control of all things.

All problems are in his hands.

The name Yahweh prominent here – 5x in 4vv – God’s name full of comfort

“Churchyards are silent places; the vaults of a sepulchre echo not with songs. Damp earth covers dumb mouths.” (Spurgeon, p57)

V6 - Better to groan to God than to grumble

V8 – our tears are heard and understood in heaven even when words fail us

Appealing from the justice of God to the mercy of God – fleeing from God to God

V3 – God’s timing not ours, known to him but not to us

Even great David could be brought very low

 The believers state, his hope, his plea, his confidence

* * *

Willem A. VanGemeren, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

A Prayer in Deep Anguish

A: Prayer for God’s Favor (vv1-3)

B: Prayer for God’s Love (vv4-5)

B’: Need for God’s Love (vv6-7)

A’: Prayer for God’s Favor (vv8-10)

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