Psalm 6, Psalm 39 and Psalm 121 (NRSV)
O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger,
or discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.
My soul also is struck with terror,
while you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, save my life;
deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who can 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 eyes waste away because of grief;
they grow 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 supplication;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror;
they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.
Psalm 6 and 39, both attributed to David, represent low points of emotion. His spirit is scraping bottom, he is miserable, and he feels terror about the Lord’s anger toward him. Whatever he has done in Psalm 6 has left him quite ill, shaking, weary, and weeping at night. In Psalm 39 the Psalmist has trouble holding his tongue in the presence of enemies who would twist his words and misrepresent his intent. We might certainly sympathize with his feeling of distress.
It is only toward the end of each Psalm that David is confident that the Lord has heard his prayer and will release him from these afflictions. By asking the Lord to heal and be gracious toward him, he begins to feel his burdens lift. It is like a child sent to his or her room, who is then welcomed back by a loving parent, with the slate wiped clean.
We also may talk with the Lord when we are ill with regret or shame. Psalm 121 is a song of ascents, as noted in my Bible. It assures us that the Lord, creator of heaven and earth, will protect us from all evil, keep our life, and restore our spirit.
Lord, when we feel ashamed or as though we are scraping bottom, lift our eyes to the wonders of your world. Restore our spirit; bring us hope and the freedom of having the slate wiped clean so
we may try again. Help us to grow in faith. Thank you for the assurance of our life and protection forever. Please accept our heartfelt praise as we continue this journey of faith. Amen.