Psalm 6 proves the truism that says: hope may despair, but despair can hope. As the Bible unfolds, we see the cross of Christ as God’s solidarity with and compassion for the assaulted. And we see the resurrection as his promise that he will heal and redeem all our suffering. As we appropriate the grace given to us in the Psalms, may we be guided on an ascent from the valley of despair to the peak of the mount of God’s grace.
Suffering is pervasive in our world. As Christians, we are never insulated from it. Afflictions, losses, persecution and oppression are just a few forms of suffering. But God loves to identify with sufferers. He is for us (Psalm 56:9; Romans 8:31). God is ever tenderly disposed towards us, not least when we’re suffering (Exodus 3:7). He has graciously given us the book of Psalms as a divine resort—a place where we can go to be strengthened against defeat, despair, denial and doubt. As we eavesdrop on the psalmists’ heartfelt transparent articulations of even the strongest feelings of anger, betrayal, heartache, hope or pain, we learn that we too can pour out our hearts to God in desperate candour. Psalm 6 illustrates this point superbly.
It is a song of both lament and penitence. It is stained with tears. We see David giving voice to those ravaged by abuse, persecution, pain and affliction. He pleads his misery in order to receive mercy. Similarly, as we manoeuvre the deep pits of life’s misfortunes, we are enjoined to do as he does. Fellow sufferers can unburden before God by doing three things.
1. Offer Passionate Pleas for Mercy (Psalm 6:1-3)
David turns to the covenant God. One easily notices the fourfold vocative: “LORD.” Afflicted saints need not wonder where to turn to be heard. God is never repelled by our pain when voiced in faith. For he is gracious and merciful (Psalm 145:8). God responds to pleas of mercy and heals both disjointedness of “bones” and “soul” (Isaiah 19:22)—physical pain, broken hearts, or troubled consciences.
When we suffer, we often feel like our suffering is endless. The psalmist plaintively cries “O LORD—how long?” cueing us into the appropriateness of godly lament. Intense despondency common to victims of suffering can be rightly lamented because lament is the language of the downcast as we process our pain.