The Bible – Old Testament
1 2 For the leader; with stringed instruments, “upon the eighth.” A psalm of David.
Do not reprove me in your anger, LORD, nor punish me in your wrath.
Have pity on me, LORD, for I am weak; heal me, LORD, for my bones are trembling.
3 In utter terror is my soul – and you, LORD, how long…?
4 Turn, LORD, save my life; in your mercy rescue me.
5 For who among the dead remembers you? Who praises you in Sheol?
I am wearied with sighing; all night long tears drench my bed; my couch is soaked with weeping.
My eyes are dimmed with sorrow, worn out because of all my foes.
Away from me, all who do evil! The LORD has heard my weeping.
The LORD has heard my prayer; the LORD takes up my plea.
My foes will be terrified and disgraced; all will fall back in sudden shame.
1 [Psalm 6] The first of the seven Penitential Psalms (Psalm 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143), a designation dating from the seventh century A.D. for psalms suitable to express repentance. The psalmist does not, as in many laments, claim to be innocent but appeals to God’s mercy (⇒ Psalm 6:5). Sin here, as often in the Bible, is both the sinful act and its injurious consequences; here it is physical sickness (⇒ Psalm 6:3-4, ⇒ 7-8) and the attacks of enemies (⇒ Psalm 6:8, 9, ⇒ 10). The psalmist prays that the effects of personal and social sin be taken away.
2  Upon the eighth: apparently a musical notation, now lost.
3  How long?: elliptical for “How long will it be before you answer my prayer?” Cf ⇒ Psalm 13:2-3.
4  mercy: Heb. hesed, translated as “mercy’ or “love,” describes God’s affectionate fidelity to human beings, which is rooted in divine and not human integrity.
5  A motive for God to preserve the psalmist from death: in the shadowy world of the dead no one offers you praise. Sheol is the biblical term for the underworld where the insubstantial souls of dead human beings dwelt. It was similar to the Hades of Greek and Latin literature. In the second century B.C., biblical books begin to speak positively of life with God after death (⇒ Daniel 12:1-3; Wisdom 3).