Sunday 19th July 2020 Psalm 6
Lord chasten not in anger,
nor in your wrath rebuke me.
Give me your healing word.
My soul and body languish;
I wait for you in anguish.
How long, how long, O Lord?
Turn to me now, uphold mel;
for your love’s sake restore me.
O save me by your grace.
For death ends all remembrance;
it wraps the tongue in silence.
How can the dead sing praise?
Pain and distress o’erwhelm me,
I cry all night for mercy,
my bed is wet with tears.
My eyes can weep no longer;
my enemies seem stronger,
my awful foes and fears.
All who love evil, leave me,
for God has heard my weeping:
my foes are put to shame.
Turned back, no more to grieve me,
they suddenly shall leave me.
All glory to God’s name.
You can hear a verse of the hymn here
If ever there was a Psalm for a time of pandemic, this is it! Here we have a person who is sick, suffering in body and soul. He prays in anguish for healing, begs God not to be angry with him for being so importunate, but he has to know – how long will all this last?
His sickness leaves him exhausted, suffering from insomnia, close to death. He feels deserted by God. In spiritual anguish he prays for deliverance. It may be hard for him in his sickness to praise God but if he dies it would be impossible. The darkest point for him is in the loneliness of night, when he suspects that his enemies and his fears were correct all along, perhaps God had deserted him. He is overwhelmed by grief.
And then when he is completely exhausted, in the depths of despair, his confidence returns, he knows that God has heard him, his enemies are discredited, they fade away. Whether or not there is any change in his physical condition, his faith and his hope are restored and he gives God the glory.
It is central to our Christian faith that, in rising from the dead, Christ has conquered death for ever. But does this focus on resurrection sometimes lead us to be too casual about our own mortality? Does the Bible not emphasis that the awefulness of the Passion preceded the Resurrection? Psalm 6 reminds us that we need a full appreciation of this life before we can look beyond it. We may well have to undergo the anguish of pain and the sense of separation from God before we emerge with that strong faith that rests confidently on God, on God’s love, on God’s grace, on God’s resurrection power.
God of compassion,
give to all whose lives are full of sorrow
the firm assurance that you are with them,
looking to that glorious day when sorrow and tears are wiped away and death is swallowed up in life,
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour.