Psalm 6


This psalm is the first psalm in which the writer expresses his repentance, Psalm 6 / Psalm 32 / Psalm 38 / Psalm 41 / Psalm 102 / Psalm 130 / Psalm 143.

Although we’re not told which particular sin David is repenting of, David here is anguishing over the pain and sorrow which came about because of his sin.


‘For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

This psalm was for the director of music. Some commentators believe that the ‘director of music’ is God Himself and others believe that it is a song leader who led choirs or musicians, 1 Chronicles 6:33 / 1 Chronicles 16:17 / 1 Chronicles 25:6.

It was to be sung with the use of stringed instruments. It was to be sung ‘according to sheminith’, which means according to the set to the eighth.

This is a reference to some specific tune, much like song leaders do today when they ask the congregation to turn their hymn books to a certain hymn number.

‘LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long? Turn, LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave?’ Psalm 6:1-5

As we mentioned in the introduction, we don’t know what particular sin David had done, but he certainly felt that God was rebuking him, hence why he asks God to lighten his discipline.

Like so many people today, they don’t see the greater good which God is trying to achieve in our lives when he disciplines His people, Hebrews 12:7.

David is feeling weak and his bones are in agony and his soul is also deeply troubled and as a result, he asks God to have mercy on him.

When we read the Psalms, we notice that the word ‘soul’ is used to refer to the totality of human existence, including the life, conscience, and personal character of the individual, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

David cries out to God amidst his anguish and asks God twice, ‘how long?’ It’s clear that David was feeling the pressure of being disciplined by God and so he asks God to lighten his discipline.

It’s clear that David is in a lot of anguish and pain because of sickness and his fear of death. He was weak because of his predicament and he lamented over the fact that his body was withering away because of his sickness.

We must note that God doesn’t always inflict people with illness because of their sin, but there are times when He chooses to do so, 1 Corinthians 11:30 / James 5:15.

He asks God to ‘return and deliver him’, he wasn’t asking because he knew he was righteous but because God is a merciful God. The very fact that David asks God to return to him tells us that at this point David felt alone and far away from God. Because he appeals to God’s unfailing love, this tells us of his repentance, he knows that he doesn’t deserve any mercy but he knows how much needs it.

George De Hoff, says the following in his commentary.

‘David did not cry for justice; he cried for mercy. I once participated in a funeral with a splendid young minister who kept saying, ‘The deceased is in the hands of a just God.’ I suggested to him that if he ever had a part in preaching my funeral, I would appreciate it if he would say that ‘I am in the hands of a merciful God.’ It is mercy and not justice that all of us need.’

David says that ‘among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave’. David is basically saying, if he died from his illness, he wouldn’t be able to give glory to God for God’s healing hand. Perhaps David asked God to heal him so that his recovery from his illness would be evidence of God’s grace in his life.

We must remember that in the Old Testament there was little hope beyond the grave, Job 19:25 / Ecclesiastes 9:5. It wasn’t until Jesus came along until thoughts of eternal life and immortality came to light, 2 Timothy 2:10.

‘I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping. The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.’ Psalm 6:6-10

David’s illness was so bad it just wore him out, to the point where he thought he would be better off being dead.

Notice that because of God’s discipline, he expressed how he was feeling in three different ways.

1. David felt God was angry with him.
2. David couldn’t feel God’s presence.
3. David couldn’t sleep.

These three things are the very things which will come upon unrepentant sinners, Matthew 7:23 / Luke 13:27.

He was in so much pain that he cried and cried so much that he drenched his bed with his tears, 2 Corinthians 7:10. His eyes were growing weaker and weaker because of a lack of sleep. His eyes are failing because of his enemies, that is, he felt his enemies would take advantage of him being seriously ill.

Because David felt that death was just around the corner, he felt that his enemies wouldn’t have any mercy upon him. In his anguish David tells his enemies, all those who do evil, to get away from him but he also cries out to God, who heard his prayers.

Even though David’s enemies wanted David to die, he rejoiced in his recovery from his illness and gave all the glory and credit to God for doing so.

Notice how David uses words in the future tense, he says, ‘will be’ and ‘will turn’ are future tense. He had total confidence that God would not only hear his prayer but answer it. The anguish and pain he was in will be nothing compared to what God will do to his enemies.


We all face loneliness at times, especially when we’re seriously ill, living alone with an illness or in an isolated ward in a hospital can often make us feel that everyone has abandoned us or even God Himself is far from us. When we go through times of testing, we often feel weak and vulnerable.

However, we must never forget that God is always with us, no matter what we go through in life, Isaiah 41:10 / Matthew 28:20 / Hebrews 13:5-6.

Life is an interesting journey, to say the least, and as most people will experience, old age creeps upon us, our bodies don’t function like they once did, our parents have passed away and some of the old friends we grew up have all gone before us.

We’ve worked hard all our lives and achieved much, made some long-lasting friendships and possibly a few enemies along the way. Our children have now all grown up and have children of their own and the thought of death enters our minds with each passing month.

This may all sound doom and gloom, but the thought of dying shouldn’t be a fearless thought for the Christian. When was the last time to read the Lord’s promise concerning death?

A promise that’s so clear and unmistakable that we’re tempted to suspect that it means something different from what it plainly says, ‘Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.’ John 8:51.

Think about that verse for a moment and think about what that short verse means because when we finally understand what the Lord means here, all fear of death will be gone. And we too with Paul could say and finally understand his words, ‘Where, O death, is your sting?’ 1 Corinthians 15:51.

Go To Psalm 7


"For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."