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TEXT: Psalm 6
SUBJECT: Of Your Own Making
The worst problems of my life are the ones of my own making. I hate all problems, but the ones I hate the most are the ones I bring on myself. If my car breaks down, that's bad. If it breaks down because I have never changed the oil, that's worse.
What makes one worse than the other is.guilt. I'm not to blame if my car is old or if 880 is full of potholes or if a vandal smashes my windshield. But if I never change the oil, I am to blame. I'm guilty. The Bible doesn't command me to change the oil, of course, but it does command wisdom and good stewardship, neither of which is consistent with never changing the oil!
The worst problems of my life-and yours-are the ones of our own making. If you've got a speck of honesty in you, you know what I'm saying is true. Some people think all problems are somebody else's fault: the boss, the wife, the kids, the neighbors, the church, the cops, the courts, the Republicans, the Democrats, the Illuminati, whatever.
Most of us know better. Whether the problem is relatively small-like ruining your car-or much bigger-like ruining your marriage-knowing we did it to ourselves, that the problem could have been avoided if only we had been better men, that's what really pains us in the present and haunts us for many years to come.
As Christians, we're told to bring our problems to God, all of them, I Peter 5:7-
Casting all your cares upon Him,
Because He cares for you.
Some of them are easier to bring Him than others. In times of sickness and unemployment, family problems, or bereavement, we're eager to unburden our souls to God. We know He loves us, and whether He fixes the problem or not, we're sure of His sympathy. Paul says Jesus-
Is the image of the invisible God.
The Gospels often tell us that He was-
Moved with compasssion
.for people in need: hungry, tired, confused, beaten down by the Romans or the Pharisees, forsaken by their families. When we're in this kind of trouble, God-
Catches our tears in a bottle
And writes them in His book.
Many of you could testify to the Lord drawing near to you in the hospital or the mortuary, or when you didn't know where your next meal was coming from. How precious He is to us in these dark times!
When your problem is sin, when the mess you're in is of your own making, because you were stupid and stubborn and willful, and flat-out disobedient, then it's harder to bring your troubles to God.
But if you're not going to God with your guilt and self-inflicted wounds, where are you going to go? What Peter said back in the day is still so-
Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life!
This is what Psalm 6 is about: taking our troubles to God, and in particular, the problems of our own making.
Is it hard to do? It is. Even guilt between friends makes talking to them weird and clumsy. But we go back to Peter: If we don't take them to the Lord, what will we do with them?
To do it consistently, we need faith; we need to believe that God is the patient, merciful, and forgiving God He said He is, and proved He is in Jesus Christ. Thus what the demoniac's father said to the Lord way back when, we day today-
Lord, I believe!
Help thou mine unbelief!
Psalm 6 is a penitential Psalm. There are seven of them in the Book, the best-known of which is Psalm 51. Psalm 51 is more specific than Psalm 6, of course, more graphic and moving, but Psalm 6 has a voice of its own, and deserves to be heard, meditated on, and prayed when we're suffering because of our own sin and folly.
The caption tells us it's a public Psalm; the musical director of Israel was to teach it to the people, and whatever they did with it in the privacy of their own homes, they were to sing it in the great assembly, thus publicly confessing both their guilt and their faith that God has taken it away.
In the age of Jerry Springer, we have to beware of exhibitionism, topping each other by the sins we confess. But for all this, there is a need to come clean in public. The Penitential Psalms provide a decent and God-honoring way of doing it.
THE PROBLEM AND THE FEAR
The Psalm opens with a problem and a fear. The problem is, David is suffering under the stern rebuke and hard discipline of God. We don't know if his chastening is in the form of sickness or war, family problems, political issues, or something else, but we know it's hurting him badly and putting his life in danger. David is-
Weak.his bones are troubled.his soul is greatly troubled.he's weary and moaning, flooding his bed with tears, drenching his couch with weeping.his eye is wasting away because of grief.
David's life-and sins-are well documented in the Bible. His great sins, of course, were taking another man's wife, murdering the man, and then covering it up for months. Later, against the will of God and the wisdom of his second-in-command, he numbered Israel , and brought down a fearful pestilence on the people. Psalm 6 may have been composed in response to these sins, but something inside me tells me it wasn't.
What people are saying about David-against him, in fact-makes me think it's a sin of omission that's got him in trouble with God. Rather than 'doing bad things', it was 'leaving good things undone'. This makes me think of his family. David was a man of God, but he wasn't the best family man in the world! He overindulged his children; he put their short-term happiness above their lifelong welfare, and before the good of his country. This makes every middle-aged man wince. If your kids are two or three years old, you may think you're a wonderful father; if they're twenty-two or three years old, you know better. You regret many things you did wrong; and even more that you didn't do right. The time you should have spent with them-but didn't. The lessons you should have taught them-but didn't. The discipline you should have meted out to them-but didn't. The example you should have set for them-but didn't.
Now he's eating the sour fruit, that might have been sweet, had he taken better care of his orchard. This is what I see behind Psalm 6.
Getting back to the Psalm itself, David is scared to death. What he's afraid of is that God will not temper His justice with mercy. He's got no objection to his chastisement; he knows very well how richly he deserves it. His life merits God's rebuke and His hot displeasure.
But, in taking what he deserves, David hopes to receive what he doesn't deserve. He wants the Lord to-
Have mercy on me.Deliver me.and Save me for your mercies' sake.
And to do it as quickly as possible-
But you, O Lord, how long?
How long will you withhold your mercy? How long will it be before you show your steadfast love? When can I praise you for your unearned favor?
THE OTHER ISSUE
As if his personal problems were not enough, the people around him are making things worse. Verses 8-10 remind me of Job's 'comforters'. Instead of consoling the king with kind words, they're torturing him with I told you soes! They're lecturing him when they should be praying for him; they're scolding him for what he's done instead of telling him he's forgiven.
His 'friends' are, in fact, enemies, workers of iniquity, and men who will soon be ashamed of what they've done (all, I'm sure in the cause of upholding high standards and defending the justice of God).
DAVID'S PRAYER AND FAITH
David prays God will rescue him from his problems and shut up the people who say He won't (and shouldn't).
He's been praying a long time now, and without any response from Heaven. But, at long last, it comes-
The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.the Lord has heard my supplication
Or has it? The last part of v.9 and v.10 make me wonder if God has done anything at all-
The Lord will receive my prayer.
As though the issue is still future. But, whether God has saved the king and silenced his enemies or not, David's faith lays hold on God's character and promises, and thus has his answer before it's given. Faith, the Bible says-
The substance of things hoped for,
The evidence of things not seen.
If Psalm 6 is a penitential Psalm, and if Jesus our Lord, has no sin to repent of, how can it have anything to do with Him?
Well, let's remember who Jesus is. He's a church-going Man, you might say, a man who went to synagogue every Sabbath and to Temple three times a year. He didn't opt out of Israel's worship, but joined it in body and soul. This means He prayed Psalm 6 alongside Caiaphas, Annas, Judas Iscariot, and all the other sinners in Jerusalem.
Not because He Himself was guilty, but because we are. He fully identified with us. The One who didn't sin became sin for us.
Who can plumb the mystery? Since the Fall of Adam, only one Man-Jesus-has had God's full pleasure. His worst enemies could find nothing to accuse Him of, and neither could the Searcher of Hearts-
This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
The proudest man couldn't say-
I do always those things that please Him.
But the humblest and truest Man did. Because it is true. Jesus never did a wrong thing or left a right thing undone. Never did He sin in deed, word, or thought. Never was He less that fully devoted to His Father and doing His will from the heart-no matter how hard it was to do it!
Yet this same Jesustook upon Himself God's anger and His hot displeasure. To win eternal life for us.
At the moment, the purest churches are a mixed body, saints and sinners together and nobody sure which is which. But when Jesus returns in glory, His prayer will be answered in full-
All workers of iniquity will be depart.
Leaving only those who have a place in His prayers, and who will, like Jesus, be delivered by God's mercy.
Let us, therefore, take our medicine with patience and hope. Nobody likes chastening, but we all need it, and the chastening we endure is always tempered with God's mercy. It's good for us, though it sure seems otherwise.
Let us remember the chastening won't last forever. Through faith in Christ we come into union with Christ, and, connected to Him, our salvation is sure.
David worried that death might prevent him from praising the Lord. It would have done that if David had died. But he didn't die-no one in Christ dies. We all have a share of His Resurrection, and whatever evils befall us in this life (including the ones of our own doing), the Lord has heard our supplication, and the silence of death will give way to the Song of Life!
Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid,
For the Lord, even Jehovah,
He is my strength and my song,
He also has become my salvation!
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