Psalm 6 meditates on a difficult Christian endeavor: responding while under the disciplinary hand of the Lord. This endeavor is the sole property of people who have been transformed by Jesus into the often-uncomfortable condition of being lifelong learners, lovers, and worshipers. The joy of learning often includes the negative experience of shame, stifling our own pride, and enduring the consequences of our sin.

Hebrews 12:5-17 describes the Lord's discipline of New Testament saints. In the face of discipline, a person is either progressing or growing bitter. The discipline process is one of high risk and high reward. It is designed to develop the “peaceable fruits of righteousness” and holiness in our lives. David gives us an example of an appropriate response to God's discipline in Psalm 6.

Confess God's Eternally Dependable Character (Psalm 6:1-5)

David is writing a psalm of lament, not of penitence. He has already confessed his sin and been forgiven; however, consequences still linger. David calls out to Jehovah, using the special name God gave for His people. He is the self-existent One, to be worshiped, not figured out. This name highlights the eternally dependable nature of God’s character in keeping His promises. This is what gave David courage in his entreaty.

Pray Without Pretension (Psalm 6:6-7)

Pretension is an attempt to impress by affecting greater importance or talent than one actually possesses. Pretension is the product of religion, but David was not a religious man. David had a relationship with Jehovah, the covenant-keeping God. God knows all because he sees all, so to maintain any kind of pretension in His presence is the height of irrationality!

Pretension is one of the greatest enemies to effectual prayer. God’s eternally dependable character coupled with His knowledge of every reality in our life requires dropping pretension and praying fervently and honestly.

Pursue a New Pattern (Psalm 6:8-10)

Note the different use of the word "dismay" from verse 3 to verse 10 of this Psalm. David demonstrates a new litmus test, new logic, and new longing. Iniquity became a litmus test for what influences David would allow into his life. Living in a way that would hinder the hearing and answering of his prayers was not acceptable in David’s life.

The consequences of his sin made David's enemies question God. David didn't seek vindication for himself but for the name of the Lord.

Thomas Brooks, a Puritan of the late 1600s, said, “It is not the bee's touching of the flower that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet. It is not he who reads most, but he who meditates most who will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian." When we respond well, we allow the flower of God's discipline to produce its intended fruit in our life: righteousness and holiness.

Application Points

  • No entreaty can be made when the character of the ruler is unpredictable, impulsive and unreliable; but the God of the Bible is eternally dependable and loving. You too can entreat God because you have the same God as David! God wants you to combat bitterness by a confession of truth of God’s eternally dependable character. May the Lord deliver you from striking out in bitterness against the message or the messengers of the consequences of sin. May they instead train you to find the courage of entreaty in the conviction that God’s character is eternally dependable.
  • Because God knows all, some people might say it is useless to pray. If the Psalms are our model, God's knowledge does not inhibit communication but liberates it. Like a best friend who knows us better than anyone else and loves us, God is someone with whom we may communicate openly.
  • When suffering the ongoing consequences of confessed sin, God’s intention for you is not to give way to dismay and defeat. Instead, He wants you to respond as David did: to pursue a new pattern and to allow the strain of shame and embarrassment to be faithful friends who forever remind you of the dangers of iniquity! Will you use the question of iniquity as a critical determiner of what influences you allow to have sway over your life? It is in this fertile field that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much"!

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • James 5:16 – The effect of our lifestyle on our prayers.
  • Malachi 3:6, Hosea 12:5, Revelation 1:4, 1:8 – God as the self-existent One.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Search Me, O God"

Search me, O God, and know my heart today,
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.

I praise Thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin;
Fulfill Thy word and make me pure within;
Fill me with fire, where once I burned with shame;
Grant my desire to magnify Thy name.

Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine;
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine;
Take all my will, my passion, self and pride;
I now surrender, Lord, in me abide.