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A.M. 2981. B.C. 1023.
In this, which is the first of those Psalms styled penitential, David being sick both in body and mind, because he had offended God, presents his misery before him, Psalms 6:1-3 . Begs the return of his favour, Psalms 6:4-7 . Assures himself of an answer of peace, Psalms 6:8-10 .
Title of the Psalm. Upon Sheminith, upon the eighth The Sheminith is generally supposed to have been a harp of eight strings. It is so rendered by the Chaldee. Some, however, have interpreted it to mean the loftiest note, and Alamoth, the lowest: but this is no more than conjecture; the Jews themselves having no certain knowledge of their ancient music.
Psalms 6:1. O Lord, rebuke me not That is, do not chasten or correct me, as the next clause explains it; in thine anger With rigour or severity, as my sins deserve, but with gentleness and moderation, Jeremiah 10:24; or, in such a manner that the chastisement may not be the effect of thy strict justice, or anger, but of thy mercy and faithfulness.
Psalms 6:2. Have mercy upon me I plead not my merit, but thy free mercy; for I am weak Or, I languish; my body pines away, and my spirit fails through my excessive pains and troubles. O Lord, heal me That is, the distempers of my soul and body, of both which the word רפא , rapha, is used; for my bones are vexed That is, my inward parts. Bones, reins, inward parts, often in Scripture signify the same as heart, soul, thought: see Psalms 35:10.
Psalms 6:3. My soul is sore vexed Partly by sympathy with my body, and partly with the burden of my sins, and the sense of thine anger, and my own danger and misery. O Lord, how long? Wilt thou suffer me to lie and languish in this condition? or, as the Chaldee paraphrast supplies the ellipses, How long wilt thou defer to give me some refreshment?
Psalms 6:4-5. Return Unto me, from whom thou hast withdrawn thy smiling countenance and helping hand. Deliver my soul From guilt and fear; or preserve my life, for the word soul often signifies life. David, and other pious men in those times, were much averse to, and afraid of death, partly because the manifestations of God’s love to his people, and the discoveries of an immortal state of glory awaiting them after death, were then more dark and doubtful; and partly because thereby they were deprived of all opportunities of advancing God’s glory and kingdom in the world. For in death Or among the dead, or in the grave, as it follows; there is no remembrance of thee This is meant only of the bodies of persons deceased; not of their souls, which still survive, and do not sleep till the resurrection, as some have vainly imagined: and yet even their souls are incapable, when departed from the body, of remembering, praising, and glorifying God, in his church on earth; of celebrating his mercy and grace in the land of the living; of propagating his worship, or of exciting others to piety by their example: which is the remembrance of God of which he speaks. Hence, also, good men have often desired to have their lives prolonged, even under the Christian, as well as under the Patriarchal and Jewish dispensation, that they might be capable of glorifying God, and of fully executing his will in this world, in order, as the Hebrews speak, to increase the reward of their souls in the world to come.
Psalms 6:6-7. All the night Or, every night, as the margin renders כל לילה , cal lailah; make I my bed to swim With tears, an hyperbole used also elsewhere. It well becomes the greatest spirits to be tender, and to relent under the tokens of God’s displeasure. David, who could face Goliath himself, melts into tears at the remembrance of sin, and under the apprehension of divine wrath, and it is no diminution to his character. Mine eye is consumed Or grown dim, or dull, as עשׁשׁה , gnosheshah, may be rendered; namely, through the many tears which I shed, or through the decay of my spirits. Because of grief For my sins and miseries, or grief arising from mine enemies; as the next clause interprets it, and from the consideration of their multitude, rage, and falseness.
Psalms 6:8-9. Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity With whom I am resolved not to associate or have any fellowship; and cease from opposing or molesting, or insulting, over me, or approaching me with designs of deceiving and betraying me, all ye my wicked enemies; desist from all your wicked contrivances against me, and be not so vain as to hope to triumph over me; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping And will grant me that which I have sought with so many tears. By the workings of God’s grace upon his heart, he knew his prayer was accepted. His tears had a voice in the ears of the God of mercy. Silent tears are not speechless ones. Our tears are cries to God. The Lord hath heard my supplication He hath not rejected me, I say, as you imagine; but is graciously pleased both with my deprecation of his displeasure and with my petitions to him for his favour.
Psalms 6:10. Let all mine enemies be ashamed Or, they shall be ashamed, of their vain confidence; and sore vexed Because of their great and unexpected disappointment. Let them return Namely, from their wicked ways, and from their hostile and malicious practices against me. Hebrew, ישׁבו , jeshubu, they shall return, turn back, or be converted; that is, repent of their sins and return to their obedience. And be ashamed suddenly Sooner than I could hope, or they did expect, or believe. “Many mournful Psalms,” says Mr. Scott, “end thus triumphantly, for the encouragement of other mourners to hope and pray.”
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 6". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19