How Long, O LORD? (Psalm 6)

If you’ve ever dealt with grief or depression, the cries of this psalmist will sound familiar. I love the transparency of the psalms. The raw emotion of the heart. The honest cries of broken people fighting to trust in a God who is there, but often seems distant.

The psalmist asks to be dealt with in love, not anger, so the soul is not sent into despair. His bones are troubled. He is physically weak. Could this be an outward sign of inner soul trouble? His soul is also weary. How long, O Lord? He asks for mercy, for deliverance. Perhaps even doubting his salvation. Save me, so it will glorify you! He has no words, only tears. All of this grief is exhausting. Send a morning full of joy!

And then comes this sudden strength. Strength to fight the darkness. The confidence to believe the LORD has heard his cries and his prayers. He does not give in to the taunts of the enemy. He finds peace in the thought that it is God who triumphs, who puts his enemies to shame.

What caused this change of focus? Perhaps he came to the end of himself, to the bottom of his grief, to the emptiness, and there he found that God was still with him. That God will never leave or forsake his children. That God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That God has won this battle. Perhaps the Lord spoke to him in his grief. Perhaps his countenance lifted because he was praying.

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:13-16)

Psalm 6

O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD—how long?

Turn, O LORD, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?

I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.

Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.
The LORD has heard my plea;
the LORD accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.