It’s Psalm 6 today and the notes have been supplied by Tudor.
This psalm continues on the theme of God’s mercy. As we’ve seen, God is a righteous God who cannot dwell with evil and who will destroy all who do evil. Another reading of the previous psalm might be helpful as a reminder of how God views sin, but to use one example here, David writes that
‘Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit.’ (Ps 5:9).
As we see, we condemn ourselves even with our own mouths, as we speak hypocritically, lie to cover up our sin, insult one another and get angry. As James writes,
‘The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.’ (Jas 3:6).
And so recognising his own sinfulness, David cries out to God saying ‘Be merciful to me, LORD’ (v2). He humbles himself before the righteous God who’s ‘wrath can flare up in a moment’ (Ps 2:12), and justly so. He pleads with God not to rebuke him in His anger and calls upon God’s mercy, to ‘save me because of your unfailing love.’ (v1,4). It reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend trying to understand what it looked like to repent, and how I was able to turn to God after I had sinned against Him. The friend helpfully reminded me that just as Jesus called us to ‘Repent and believe’ (Mk 1:15), the two still work together. I know that sometimes I have become obsessed with the ‘quality’ of my repentance, believing I needed to be more sorry before I could approach God. Other times I’ve treated God’s grace cheaply asking for forgiveness but not really trying to recognise the ugliness of my sin and the need to deal with it.
In this psalm David is clearly troubled by his sin and humbles himself before God. But as he does so he entrusts himself to God’s mercy and recalls God’s character. He writes, ‘My soul is in anguish’, and ‘My eyes grow weak with sorrow’ (v3,7). However, he also recalls God’s mercy and trusts in God who hears his prayer. David doesn’t try to justify himself, not in his standing before God, nor for peace of mind. Instead he recognises his sinfulness, humbles himself and trusts in God who will forgive him. As Paul writes, ‘However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.’ (Rom 4:5). However troubling it might be, oh that God would open our eyes to our own sinfulness. And how amazing that God would even justify us, sinners.
It reminds me of some verses from Lamentations 3:19-33 to close on:
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.”