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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 6

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

« To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David. » O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

To the chief Musician on NeginothSee Trapp on title " Psalms 4:1 "

Upon Sheminith — Or, upon the eight, i.e. Intentissimo sono et clarissima voce, to be sung aloud. An eight is the highest note in music. See 1 Chronicles 15:21 . Others say, that hereby is meant the bass and tenor, as fittest for a mourner.

O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger — In this and some other psalms David begins so heavily, ends so merrily, that one might think they had been composed by two men of a contrary humour, as Merlin observeth. De l’ Amour Divin. Every new man is two men, Romans 7:9-25 The Shulamite hath in her, as it were, the company of two armies, Song of Solomon 6:13 . The Lord also chequereth his providence white and black, he speckleth his work (represented by those speckled horses, Zechariah 1:8 ). Mercies and crosses are interwoven.

Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure — Chastened David desires to be, as Jeremiah 10:24 1 Corinthians 11:32 Hebrews 12:7-8 ; but in mercy, and in measure, 1 Corinthians 10:13 . "Fury is not in me," saith God, however it may sometimes seem to be, Isaiah 27:4 . Of furious people the philosopher giveth this character, that they are angry, 1. οις ου δει , against those whom they should not; 2. εφ ου δει , for matters they should not; 3. μαλλον η δει , more than they should be. But none of all these can be affirmed of God. Anger is not in him secundum affectum, but seemeth so to be secundum effectum, when he chideth and smiteth (as angry people use to do) when there is no other remedy, 2 Chronicles 36:13 . His anger is in Scripture put, 1. For his threatenings, Hosea 11:9 John 3:10 John 3:2 . For his punishments, Matthew 3:7 Romans 2:8 . But as God therefore threateneth that he may not punish, Amos 6:12 , so in the midst of judgment he remembereth mercy, and it soon repenteth him concerning his people.

Verse 2

Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I [am] weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

Have mercy upon me, O Lord — As the woman in the story appealed from Philip to Philip, so doth David fly from God’s anger to God’s grace; for he had none else in heaven or earth to repair to, Psalms 73:25 . He seeks here to escape him by closing with God, and to get off by getting within him.

For I am weak — Or crushed, gnashed, extremely dejected with sickness of body and trouble of mind. Basil expounds it as his foul sins into which he fell from infirmity, and for which he was threatened with judgments by the prophet Nathan.

O Lord, heal me — On both sides: heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee, Psalms 41:4 , ; heal my body, which is full of dolours and diseases, Psalms 107:18 ; Psalms 107:20 ; for thou art Jehovah the physician, Exodus 15:26 . Heal mine estate, which is very calamitous by reason of mine enemies, who wish my death, and would gladly revel in my ruins. See Hosea 6:2 Isaiah 30:26 .

For my bones are vexed — viz. By reason of my leanness and long lying. For albeit the bones of themselves are insensible, and ache not; yet the membranes and tunicles do that compass the bones.

Verse 3

My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?

My soul is also sore vexed — This was worse than all the rest. A light load to a raw shoulder is very grievous; a little water in a leaden vessel is heavy, so is a little outward grief to a laden soul. Hence Job so complaineth; and Jeremiah prayeth, Be not thou a terror unto me, O Lord; and then I much matter not what becomes of me.

But thou, O Lord, how longsc. Wilt thou stand off, and not haste to my help? This is plena affectus reticentia, an emphatic and affectionate aposiopesis, such as is ordinary with those that are in pain and durance.

Verse 4

Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake.

Return, O Lord, deliver my soul — He calleth hard upon Jehovah, which sweet name of God he hath now five times in these four first verses made use of, as one that knew, and could improve, the full import of it. Here David begs of him to return, not by change of place, for God filleth all places (being

but miserationis serenitate, by a beam of his mercy, and by a dispensation of his gracious providence, altering his condition for the better, Deuteronomy 30:9 Acts 15:16 .

Oh save me for thy mercies’ sakeQuam pulcherrime ista supplicatio propriis et profieientibus sermonibus explicatur, saith Cassiodore concerning this text, i.e. How finely and fitly is this request set forth! David pleaded not merit, but humbly craveth mercy. The heart (that piece of proud flesh) must be brought to such a temper and tameness, as to crouch to God for the crumbs that fall from his table.

Verse 5

For in death [there is] no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

For in death there is no remembrance of thee — Some heathens were of the opinion that when a man died all died with him; neither was there any further sense of wealth or woe for ever. Socrates doubted, but Aristotle affirmed it to be so, for aught he knew, ουδεν ετι τω τεθνεωτι δοκει ουτε αγαθον, ουτε κακον ειναι (Ethic. 1.3, c. 9). Eusebius and Augustine make mention of certain Arabian heretics, who held that the soul died with the body, and so remained dead to the last day, and then they revived with the resurrection of the body. This was long since exploded as a foul error, contrary to that which the Scripture holdeth forth in many places. All that David would say here is, that dead men remember not, that is, they mention not God’s worthy acts, to the quickening of others; their praises cannot provoke other men to believe in God, or serve him, as in their lifetime they might, therefore David would fain live to do more good. A certain martyr going to suffer said, he was sorry that he was going to a place where he should do God no more work, but be receiving wages only (Sever. Epist. 3). Domine, si adhuc populo tuo sim necessarius non recuso laborem, said a dying saint, Lord, if I may be yet useful to thy people, I should be very well content it might be so. See Isaiah 38:18-19 . David and Hezekiah prayed hard that they might not yet die, lest religion and the true worship of God, which they had begun to vindicate and establish, should by their decease fall to the ground, through the wickedness of their survivors and successors.

In the grave who shall give thee thanks?sc. Palani et cum aliis, saith Aben Ezra, openly and exemplarily, in the company of others. Some render it, In hell who shall confess to thee? Hereby is showed the fear of God’s children (saith Diodati) anguished by the feelings of his wrath, lest they should die out of his grace unreconciled, and by that means be excluded and debarred from their desired aim, to be everlastingly instruments of his glory. But it is better to take sheol here for the place and state of the dead, after their dissolution; though Dilrio will needs have it to be always in Scripture meant as hell; which if it be so, then why should Job so earnestly desire to be hid in it? Job 14:13 . That was a singular example of Paul the hermit, who, though dead, seemed to be serving God, and affected those that beheld him (Adag. Sacr. in 2 Sam. xxii. Digress. 2). For he was found (saith Jerome) dead kneeling upon his knees, holding up his hands, lifting up his eyes; so that the very dead corpse seemed yet, by a kind of religious gesture, to pray unto God.

Verse 6

I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

I am weary with my groaning — I have laboured therein even unto lassitude. There must be some proportion between our sin and our sorrow. A storm of sighs, at least, if not a shower of tears; some sorrow is above tears, some constitutions are dry and will not yield tears, and in such case dry sorrow may be as available as wet. She that touched the hem of Christ’s garment only was as welcome to him as Thomas, who put his fingers into the print of the nails.

All the night make I my bed to swim — So one hour’s sin brought many nights’ pain. Did we but forethink what sin will cost us we dare not but be innocent. Transit voluptas, manet dolor. Nocet empta dolore voluptas, Desire passes, grief remains. Desire hurts with empty grief. But today, saith a reverend writer (Bishop Pilkinton on Nehemiah 1:4 ), weep a man may not, for disfiguring his face; fasting is thought hypocrisy and shame; and when his paunch is full, then, as priests with their drunken nowls said matins, and belched out, Eructavit cor meum verbum, with good devotion as they thought; so he blusters out a few blustering words, and thinks it repentance sufficient, … Another descants thus upon the text. As in Sicilia there is fons solis, the fountain of the sun, out of which at midday, when the sun is nearest, floweth cold water; at midnight, when the sun is farther off, floweth hot water: so the patriarch David’s head is full of water, and his eyes a fountain of tears, who, when he enjoyed his health as the warm sunshine, was cold in confessing his sins; but being now visited with sickness, his reins chastising him in the night season, he is so sore troubled, and withal so hot, and so fervent, that every night he washeth his bed, and watereth, nay, even melteth, his conch with tears, … A third makes this good note upon these words: The place of David’s sin, his bed, is the place of his repentance, and so it should be; yea, when we behold the place where we have offended we should be pricked in heart, and there again crave his pardon. As Adam sinned in the garden, and Christ sweat bloody tears in the garden. Sanctify by tears every place which we have polluted by sin; and let us seek Christ Jesus in our bed, with the spouse in the Canticles, who saith, In my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loved, Song of Solomon 3:1 .

I water my couch with my tears — By couch some understand that whereon David lay in the day time for ease and refreshing, the same perhaps which David arose off when he beheld Bathsheba washing herself; where began his misery, 2 Samuel 11:2 . Others take it for his pallet, his under bed, which he also watered by the abundance of his penitent tears. Ainsworth rendered it, I water or melt my bedstead. These are all excessive figurative speeches, to set forth the greatness of his grief and the multitude of his tears. Weeping becomes not a king, saith Euripides. But King David was of another mind, and so was he who said,

Tears, instead of gems, were the ornaments of David’s bed, saith Chrysostom.

Verse 7

Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.

Mine eye is consumed — Heb. gnawn, moth eaten. That eye of his that had looked and lusted after his neighbour’s wife is now dimmed and darkened with grief and indignation, he had wept himself almost blind; as it is stated of Faustus, the son of King Vortigern by his own daughter, that he wept himself stark blind for the abominable incest of his parents (Prideaux’s Introduct. to Hist. p. 289).

It waxeth old — Or, Is sunk in my head. Doth not do its office, but is become like an old dusty window that lets in little light. A heavy affliction to those whose eyes have been loop holes of lust and windows of wickedness, the remembrance whereof is a thorn to their blind eyes, and puts them to grievous pain, especially when their enemies shall have got it by the end, as David’s had his ill pranks, and spared not to lay it in his dish.

Verse 8

Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.

Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity — What a strange change is here all of a sudden! Well might Luther say, Oratio est hirudo animae, Prayer is the leech of the soul, that sucks out the venom and swelling thereof. Prayer, saith another, is an exorcist with God, and an exorcist against sin and misery. The prophet Isaiah calleth it a charm, Isaiah 26:16 , because it lays our soul distempers, and, like David’s harp, drives away the evil spirit that is upon us. Pray, therefore, when out of order, though not so fit to pray; fall upon the duty, by David’s example here, and that will further fit thee for the duty. Thy leaden lumpish heart, cast into this holy fire, will heat and melt. Quoties me oratio, quem pene desperantem susceperat, reddidit exultantem et praesumentem de venia? saith Bernard: How oft hath prayer found me despairing almost, but left me triumphing and well assured of pardon! The same in effect saith David here, "Depart from me," … What a word is that to his insulting enemies, Avoid, come out, vanish! These be words used to devils and dogs, but good enough for a Doeg or a Shimei. And the Son of David shall say the same to his enemies when he comes to judgment.

For the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping — Tears then have a voice (as well as blood hath), and God hath an ear for them. And as music upon the waters soundeth farther and more harmoniously than upon the land, so do prayers joined with tears: Portae lachrymarum ne sint clausae, let not the wounds of godly sorrow be ever so healed up in us but that they may bleed afresh upon every just occasion (R. Obad. Gaon in Psalms 6:1-10 ).

Verse 9

The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.

The Lord hath heard my supplication — And thereby sealed up sweetest love to my soul; as Ahasuerus afterwards did to his Esther, by granting her request. But how knew David, and how doth many another man in like sort know that God hath heard his prayer, though as yet no visible return appeareth? I answer, This he may know, 1. By a cast of God’s pleased countenance. 2. By the testimony of his own conscience, Philippians 4:6-7 , and by the assurance of faith, which saith to a man, as the angel once did to Cornelius, Thy prayers are heard and answered. Of Luther we read, that having been once wrestling hard with God by prayer for the prosperous proceeding of the Reformation in Germany, about which there was a general meeting of the states at that time, he came leaping out of his closet with Vicimus, Vicimus, in his mouth, that is, We have prevailed, we have got the day. God sometimes answereth his people before they pray, sometimes while they are praying, as here, and sometimes after they have prayed, but sooner or later they shall be sure of it.

The Lord will receive my prayer — He hath, and, therefore, he will. This is the language of faith, this is the triumph of trust.

Verse 10

Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return [and] be ashamed suddenly.

Let all mine enemies be ashamed — When they see all their hopes of my death and downfall disappointed.

Let them returnRetrocedant et in terrain cadant, saith the Arabic interpreter, Let them go backward, and fall to the earth. Some make this a prayer, some a prophecy; it comes all to one.

And be ashamed suddenly — Let them be doubly ashamed, or deboshed, and that in a moment. These sudden and still revenges are very terrible. God usually premonisheth before he punisheth, but not always. Now as blessings, the more unexpected the more welcome; so judgments, the more sudden the more grievous.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 6". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/psalms-6.html. 1865-1868.
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