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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 6

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Psalms 6:0


Prayer For Mercy in Time of Trouble MT Intro“For the choir director; with stringed instruments, upon an eight-stringed lyre. A Psalm of David” A Prayer of Faith in Time of DistressPrayer for Healing From a Severe IllnessA Prayer for Help in Time of Trouble Supplication in Time of Trial
Psalms 6:1-3 Psalms 6:1-3 Psalms 6:1-3 Psalms 6:1-3 Psalms 6:1-3
Psalms 6:4-5 Psalms 6:4-5 Psalms 6:4-5 Psalms 6:4-5 Psalms 6:4-5
Psalms 6:6-7 Psalms 6:6-7 Psalms 6:6-7 Psalms 6:6-7 Psalms 6:6-8a
Psalms 6:8-10 Psalms 6:8-10 Psalms 6:8-10 Psalms 6:8-10
Psalms 6:8-10

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-3

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 6:1-3 1O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger, Nor chasten me in Your wrath. 2Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away; Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed. 3And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O Lordhow long?

Psalms 6:1 There are two imperatives used as jussives.

1. rebuke BDB 406, KB 410, Hiphil negated, cf. Psalms 38:1

2. chasten BDB 415, KB 418, Piel negated

This is a penitential psalm, as are Psalm 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143. The Jewish Study Bible (p. 1289) says that this Psalm of supplication has become the liturgical weekday morning prayer of Jewish people.

“in Your anger. . .in Your wrath” The Psalm does not say why YHWH is angry (see Special Topic: God Described as Human). It may reflect the OT theology of one causation. The psalmist had enemies, YHWH allowed/sent them (cf. Psalms 6:3). Life's circumstances are

1. punishment for sin (cf. Psalms 41:4)

2. life in a fallen world (cf. Psalms 147:3)

3. ways to strengthen faith (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 5:8)

However, one never knows which it is, so repent and have faith!

Psalms 6:2-3 Notice how “dismayed” (BDB 96, KB 111, Niphal perfect) is related to both

1. my bones (BDB 782), Psalms 6:2

2. my soul (lit. nephesh, BDB 659, cf. Psalms 6:4), Psalms 6:3 (see full note at Psalms 3:2 and Genesis 35:18)

Both of these were ways of referring to a person's innermost life and thoughts. This writer is in great distress and does not know why!

Psalms 6:2 As Psalms 6:1 asks YHWH for what not to do, Psalms 6:2 asks YHWH to (also note Psalms 6:4)

1. be gracious to me BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative

2. heal me BDB 950, KB 1272, Qal imperative

The verb “heal” does not necessarily relate to a physical illness (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 1166, c, cf. Isaiah 1:5-6), but to the attack of adversaries (cf. Psalms 6:7b, Psalms 6:10). However, verse Psalms 6:2 leaves open the possibility of an illness. If an illness, why are adversaries mentioned? Some would say the enemies made fun of the psalmist (cf. Psalms 102:8) in his illness. The ancient Israelites believed sin and sickness were related. See Special Topic: Healing.

Psalms 6:3 “how long” This is the cry of the human person made in God's image but trapped in a fallen mind, body, and world (cf. Psalms 13:1; Psalms 74:10; Psalms 90:13)! As believers we trust in God, not circumstances, but still we cry outwhy? When will it be over?

Verses 4-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 6:4-5 4Return, O Lord, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your lovingkindness. 5For there is no mention of You in death; In Sheol who will give You thanks?

Psalms 6:4 As Psalms 6:2 asks YHWH to act on the psalmist's behalf (i.e., “be gracious. . .heal”), so too, Psalms 6:4.

1. return BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal imperative

2. rescue BDB 322, KB 321, Piel imperative

3. save BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative

Notice the reason given for the requests is not the worth or merit of the psalmist but the unchanging, merciful character of the covenant creator/redeemer Deity!

One wonders what “return” in this context means. Did the psalmist think YHWH had departed or hid Himself?

“lovingkindness” See Special Topic: Lovingkindness.

Psalms 6:5 Psalms 6:5 gives the OT view of the afterlife. Sheol was a place of consciousness but no joy or praise. The whole issue of conscious existence beyond physical death is developed through Scripture. There are only hints in the OT (cf. Job 14:14-15; Job 19:25-27; Psalms 16:10; Psalms 49:15; Psalms 86:13; Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37:12-13; Daniel 12:1-2; Hosea 13:14). The full truth is revealed in 1 Corinthians 15:0!

The Hebrew Sheol (BDB 982) refers to the realm of the dead. It is characterized by

1. a dark, gloomy place, Job 10:21-22; Psalms 143:3

2. a place of no return, Job 10:21; Job 16:22

3. a place of no praise to God, Psalms 6:5; Psalms 30:9; 8:10-12; Psalms 115:17 (silence, Psalms 94:17)

4. a place separated from God, Psalms 88:5; Psalms 39:13, yet God is there, Psalms 139:8; Proverbs 15:11!

See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead?.

Notice the author specifically mentions that in his understanding of Sheol, there is no

1. remembrance (BDB 271)

2. praise (BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect, cf. Psalms 30:9; Psalms 88:10-12; Isaiah 38:18)

The Tyndale OT Commentary Series (vol. 15, p. 78) lists the imagery used in the OT for Sheol.

1. vast cavern Ezekiel 32:18-32

2. stronghold Psalms 9:13; Psalms 107:18; Matthew 16:18

3. dark wasteland Job 10:22

4. a huge beast with a large mouth Isaiah 5:14; Jonah 2:2; Habakkuk 2:5

Thank God for a New Testament!

Verses 6-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 6:6-7 6I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. 7My eye has wasted away with grief; It has become old because of all my adversaries.

Psalms 6:6-7 The psalmist describes his physical and emotional trauma caused by his “adversaries” (BDB 865, KB 1058, Qal participle, “those who show hostility”).

1. weary with sighing (BDB 58)

2. bed wet with tears (hyperbole)

Verses 8-10

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 6:8-10 8Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. 9The Lord has heard my supplication, The Lord receives my prayer. 10All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed; They shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed.

Psalms 6:8-10 The psalmist comes to a place of mental relief as he trusted in YHWH, who has heard his prayer (cf. Psalms 28:6). This is expressed in three parallel lines (i.e., Psalms 6:8b, Psalms 6:9a, Psalms 6:9b).

Because of YHWH's acceptance of the prayer the adversaries

1. must depart, Psalms 6:8a (cf. Psalms 119:115; Psalms 139:19)

2. will be ashamed, Psalms 6:10; Psalms 6:10 (cf. Psalms 71:13, Psalms 71:24)

3. will be greatly dismayed, Psalms 6:10; Psalms 6:10 (same verb used of the psalmist in Psalms 6:2b and 3a)

4. will turn back, Psalms 6:10 (same verb used of YHWH in Psalms 6:4, but here may be of going into Sheol, cf. Job 34:15; Psalms 9:18; Ecclesiastes 3:20; Ecclesiastes 5:15; Ecclesiastes 12:7)

5. will be suddenly ashamed (same verb as Psalms 6:10a, cf. Psalms 73:19)

Numbers 2-5 are all imperfects used in a jussive sense. The psalmist seeks the presence of YHWH but the absence of his foes! What they tried to do to him is now done to them! This literary structure (i.e., reversal) is typical of the OT. What humans expect is often opposite of what YHWH brings about.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Describe Sheol from an OT perspective.

2. Explain what “ashamed” means in an OT context.

3. How does the anger and wrath of YHWH relate to the wicked and to the faithful follower?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 6". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-6.html. 2021.
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