Psalms 6


This Psalm contains a deprecation of eternal vengeance, 1;

a petition to God for mercy, 2.

This is enforced from a consideration of the psalmist's

sufferings, 3;

from that of the Divine mercy, 4;

from that of the praise and glory which God would fail to

receive if man were destroyed, 5;

from that of his humiliation and contrition, 6, 7.

Being successful in his supplication, he exults in God, 8, 9;

and predicts the downfall of all his enemies, 10.


This Psalm has the following inscription: To the chief Musician

on Neginoth, upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David; which the Chaldee

translates, "To be sung on neginoth, a harp of eight strings." The

various interpretations given to this inscription, both by

ancients and moderns, show us that nothing is known concerning it.

We have already seen that neginoth probably signifies all

instruments which emitted sounds by strokes, or stringed

instruments in general. This Psalm was to be accompanied with such

instruments; but one of a particular kind is specified, viz.,

sheminith; so called from its having eight strings. The chief

musician is directed to accompany the recital of this Psalm with

the above instrument.

Verse 1. O Lord, rebuke me not] This Psalm, Which is one of the

seven Penitential Psalms, is supposed to have been written

during some grievous disease with which David was afflicted after

his transgression with Bath-sheba. It argues a deep consciousness

of sin, and apprehension of the just displeasure of God. It is the

very language of a true penitent who is looking around for help,

and who sees, as Bishop Horne well expresses it, "above, an angry

God, ready to take vengeance; beneath, the fiery gulf, ready to

receive him; without, a world in flames; within, the gnawing

worm." Of all these, none so dreadful as an angry God; his wrath

he particularly deprecates. God rebukes and chastens him, and he

submits; but he prays not to be rebuked in anger, nor chastened in

hot displeasure, because he knows that these must bring him down

to total and final destruction.

Verse 2. Have mercy] I have no merit. I deserve all I feel and

all I fear.

O Lord, heal me] No earthly physician can cure my malady. Body

and soul are both diseased, and only God can help me.

I am weak] umlal. I am exceedingly weak; I cannot

take nourishment, and my strength is exhausted.

My bones are vexed.] The disease hath entered into my bones.

Verse 3. How long?] How long shall I continue under this malady?

How long will it be before thou speak peace to my troubled heart?

Verse 4. Return, O Lord] Once I had the light of thy

countenance, by sin I have forfeited this; I have provoked thee to

depart: O Lord, return! It is an awful thing to be obliged to say,

Return, O Lord, for this supposes backsliding; and yet what a

mercy it is that a backslider may RETURN to God, with the

expectation that God will return to him!

Verse 5. In death there is no remembrance of thee] Man is to

glorify thee on earth. The end for which he was born cannot be

accomplished in the grave; heal my body, and heal my soul, that I

may be rendered capable of loving and serving thee here below. A

dead body in the grave can do no good to men, nor bring any glory

to thy name!

Verse 7. Mine eye is consumed] asheshah, is blasted,

withered, sunk in my head.

Verse 8. Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity] It seems

that while he was suffering grievously through the disease, his

enemies had insulted and mocked him;-upbraided him with his

transgressions, not to increase his penitence, but to cast him

into despair.

The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.] The Lord pitifully

beheld the sorrows of his heart, and mercifully forgave his sins.

Verse 10. Ashamed and sore vexed] May they as deeply deplore

their transgressions as I have done mine! May they return; may

they be suddenly converted! The original will bear this meaning,

and it is the most congenial to Christian principles.


The parts of this Psalm are TWO, in general:-

I. A petition to God for himself, contained in the first seven


II. The account of his restoration, contained in the three last.

I. The petition consists of two parts: 1. Deprecation of evil;

2. Petition for good.

1. He prays to God to avert his wrath: "O Lord, rebuke me not,"


2. He entreats to be partaker of God's favour: "Have mercy upon

me," &c. 1. To his BODY: "Heal me, O Lord." 2. To his SOUL:

"Deliver my soul: O save me!"

He enforces his petition by divers weighty reasons:

1. From the quantity and degrees of his calamity, which he

shows to be great from the effects. 1. In general; he was in a

languishing disease: "I am weak." 2. In particular; 1. Pains in

his bones: "My bones are vexed." 2. Trouble in his soul: "My soul

also is troubled."

2. From the continuance of it. It was a long disease; a

lingering sickness; and he found no ease, no, not from his God.

The pain I could the better bear if I had comfort from heaven.

"But thou, O Lord, how long?" Long hast thou withdrawn the light

of thy countenance from thy servant.

3. From the consequence that was likely to follow; death, and

the event upon it. It is my intention to celebrate and praise thy

name; the living only can do this: therefore, let me live; for in

death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave who shall give

thee thanks?

4. And that he was brought now to the gates of death, he shows

by three apparent symptoms: 1. Sighs and groans, which had

almost broken his heart; the companions of a perpetual grief: "I

am weary of my groaning." 2. The abundance of his tears had dried

and wasted his body: "He made his bed to swim, and watered his

couch with his tears." 3. His eyes also melted away, and grew dim,

so that he seemed old before his time: "My eye is consumed because

of grief; it waxeth old."

6. That which added to his sorrow was, he had many ill-wishers

who insulted over him: "Mine eye is waxen old because of mine


II. But at last receiving comfort and joy, he is enabled to look

up; and then he turns upon his enemies, who were longing for his

destruction: "Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity."

He magnifies God's mercy; and mentions its manifestation thrice

distinctly: 1. "The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping." 2.

"The Lord hath heard my supplication." 3. "The Lord will receive

my prayer."

Then follows his prophetic declaration concerning them: 1. Shame

and confusion to see their hope frustrated: "They shall be

confounded." 2. Vexation, to see the object of their envy restored

to health and prosperity: "They shall be sore vexed." 3. They

shall return to their companions with shame, because their wishes

and plots have miscarried. 4. He intimates that this shame and

confusion shall be speedy: "They shall return, and be ashamed

suddenly." Or, possibly, this may be a wish for their conversion,

yashubu, let them be CONVERTED, raga, suddenly,

lest sudden destruction from the Lord should fall upon them. Thus

the genuine follower of God prays, "That it may please thee to

have mercy upon our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers; and to

TURN their HEARTS." A Christian should take up every thing of this

kind in a Christian sense.

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