Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday - Psalm 6

Ash Wednesday
February 25, 2009
From St. Matthew’s Passion - Matthew 26:36-46
Psalm 6
Deliver Me from My Sins and My Enemies
A Dark Night

Psalm 6 is known as the first of seven penitential psalms - songs of confession and humility before God. It was a custom in the early church to sing these psalms on Ash Wednesday, and on the Wednesday of Holy Week. The title of this Psalm is, “To the Chief Musician…With stringed instruments…On an eight-stringed harp…A Psalm of David.”

David wrote Psalms 6 during a time when he was in a great deal of physical and emotional pain. David was sick to the point of his bones aching; his eyes are red and swollen from lack of sleep. He has enemies all around him. If that wasn't bad enough, he felt like the Lord had left him because He was angry with him.

We've all felt like that at some point in our lives, and probably will again. We feel like at the lowest, most painful point in our life, when everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, everyone is against us, we're physically sick, we feel like the Lord is far from us and not hearing our prayers for mercy.

David was a physically strong man of war. He was a spiritually strong man, a man after God's own heart. David was a man of great power and wealth, the King of Israel. None of these things kept sickness and emotional distress from touching his life, but David's ability to pray, to know how to talk to the Lord his God, delivered him from physical and emotional distress he was in.

Most likely, David wrote Psalm 6 after a sleepless night. It seems that David was going through a trying time in his life and felt that there was a connection between his suffering and a sin he had committed. He had been brought low by what he considered to be God’s chastisement.


A. He Speaks about His Excuse: “I am weak” (6:1-5)

1. His Plight (6:1-3) O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? David describes himself as "Drooping as a blighted plant” and "languishing” Jesus places Himself in the hands of the Father, knowing that of Himself he can do nothing.

B. “My soul is in anguish”
a. David's exhaustion from a sin-related illness,

b. Christ's exhaustion from the conflict with "sin" -- caused by the unclean, defiling "disease" of human nature. The stress and agony in a constant denial of his flesh, especially at the end, as is seen in the Scriptures concerning Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 52:14; Just as there were many who were appalled at him his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness

Isaiah 53:2-4; He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

Luke 22:43, 44 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground

C. “How long?”
a. David cries. That is, David asks the Lord, how long before deliverance comes? With God, what (humanly speaking) seems to be "delay" is actually the orderly maturing of His purposes. Our problem is the inability to discern, in a frenzied age like ours, the slow but inevitable out workings of God's timetable.
b. Note that David does not deny that he deserves God’s rebuke; he asks that it not be in anger (David knew that the wrath of God was not to be taken lightly; nor could it be resisted).
c. There is not a one of us here who will be able to resist God’s wrath when Christ comes again. None of us will demand justice be done when Christ comes again. We will all plead for God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

2. His Plea (6:4-5)
A. Along the Line of Mercy. SAVE ME BECAUSE OF YOUR UNFAILING LOVE: "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour" (John 12:27).
a. David had a sense of God’s displeasure and felt a distance between him and God (“Return, O Lord…..”). He was weary in his groaning and was “swimming in a bed of tears.” "That eye of his that had looked and lusted after his neighbor's wife is now dimmed and darkened with grief and indignation. He had wept himself almost blind". ALL NIGHT LONG I FLOOD MY BED WITH WEEPING AND DRENCH MY COUCH WITH TEARS:
b. Christ's 'bed' was the ground, in Gethsemane, where "with strong crying and tears". He sought relief from the burden He bore. Hebrews 5:7 tells us “During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”

c. Along the Line of Memory. His sin is always before Him. He can’t get it out of his head. Words, spoken in anger, actions filled with hate, thoughts filled with rage. They are always before Him. He can’t forget.

B. He Speaks about His Exercise:
“I am weary” (6:6-7)

a. He Was Warn Out (6:6) I am weary from my groaning…I drench my couch with tears.”

C. He was Waxing Old (6:7) ”My eye wastes away because of grief. It grows old because of all my enemies.”

3. DAVID’S SUDDEN CONFIDENCE (6:8-10) In verse 8 is where David changes his prayer, he quits complaining and begins to speak faith...'for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.... (Verse 9) The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer'. 'Hath' is a present tense word, the Lord HAS heard. Nothing has changed for David yet. He is still sick, his eyes still swollen from crying, enemies are still around him, but he speaks faith. He prayed, now he believes.

A. His Fears Are Stilled (6:8-9) Our Lord does not ask His people to suffer without purpose. Rather He uses our suffering for good; for our good and for our neighbor's good, and He joins us also to the suffering of Christ, who did not love His life to the end but laid it down for ours. Thus David will say, “Depart from me all you workers of iniquity; for the Lord has heart the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication.” The Lord has promised to hear. The Lord has promised to act. This is why He sent His Son into our world to bear our sin, to carry our load, to be the sacrifice for sin.

B. His Foes Are Stopped (6:10) “Let all my enemies be ashamed…let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly.” We do not suffer alone. In our suffering, in our misery, in our unhappiness we need not despair. For Christ has come not only to redeem but also to restore us back to the Father. When we receive mercy from our Lord our enemies are defeated and we are tormented no more.

Throughout this journey of Lent, as we focus on the cries and prayers of David through the psalms they will touch us emotionally, spiritually. They will speak of our human and broken condition. They will point us to Christ who bore our sin patiently.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

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