Bible Commentaries
Psalms 6

Clarke's CommentaryClarke Commentary

Verse 1

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 Psalms 6:1. 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

Verse Psalms 6:2. 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 — אמלל 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

Verse Psalms 6:3. 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

Verse Psalms 6:4. 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

Verse Psalms 6:5. 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

Verse Psalms 6:7. Mine eye is consumed — עששה asheshah, is blasted, withered, sunk in my head.

Verse 8

Verse Psalms 6:8. 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

Verse Psalms 6:10. 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 verses.

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," c.

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 enemies."

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, ישבו yashubu, let them be CONVERTED, רגע 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.

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 6". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.