Ep029: Psalm 6: How Long, O Lord, How Long?

Hi. I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.

Psalm 6 is titled, “A Psalm of David.”  We are not sure whether this means that David wrote the psalm, or whether someone else wrote it “in the style of David.” Since the Psalms are Hebrew poetry, I will refer to the author as “the poet” instead of calling him or her “David” or “the psalmist.” You can think of your journey through life as an extended poem that you are writing. The Psalms are an invitation to share your poem with another poet.

In Psalm 6, the poet feels vulnerable, exposed, unprotected, hopeless.  

  • He says, “O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.” He feels that God is angry and wants him to shape up. But he can’t. He’s stuck.
  • The poet says, “I am faint, my bones are in agony, my soul is in anguish.” Her body is tired, her bones ache, her insides are constant pain.
  • She says, “No one remembers you when he is dead, who praises you from the grave?”  The poet’s thoughts turn to death. Her life feels like a one-way spiral into the grave.
  • She says, “I am worn out with groaning, I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears, my eyes grow weak with sorrow.” Eyes are made to see, but all hers do are weep. The poet can’t see beyond her current pain.

Author Anne Lamott writes of a similar experience, “. . .I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again . . . I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving. . .” (Operating Instructions: A Journal of my Son’s First Year. New York Anchor Books, 1993).

Hasty Words describes depression as “The assassin inside me”  (Hasty Words, Darker Side of Night. Self-published, 2013. See also https://hastywords.com).

Author Nina LaCour writes, “The sun stopped shining for me. . .”  (Hold Still. Speak: New York, 2009)

Yes, that was the poet’s experience in Psalm 6. Then suddenly, out of the blue, the psalm resolves into hope. “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.” Where did the poet find hope? Did he order it from Amazon? Did it come unbidden? Was it an answer from God for the pain and tears?

Let’s pray.
Our Father in heaven, Jesus the Savior knows our depths of depression, for he was despised and rejected by men. He felt rejected by you, his father, when he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Today, we bring you our feelings of hopelessness and depression.

  • Don’t be angry at us. Have compassion on our darkness.
  • Don’t turn away from us. Look at our tears.
  • Don’t hide from our misery. Expose and defeat the assassin inside us.
  • Don’t keep your distance, God. Stand with us in our pain.

We believe that you listen, God.
We believe that the sun still shines.
We believe that life is a gift worth living.
We believe that our sadness is not forever.
We believe that you will walk with us through depression.
We believe that your mercy will bring us hope and freedom.

Accept our prayer, O God. Hold us gently in your arms. May your heart of love mingle with our heart of sadness, until our sickness is healed and our life restored. Amen.

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.

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