Randolph knew he just had to hang in there and waited for his time to come. He was filled with remorse and a guilty conscience that kept on accusing him for the past years. He had to put up a show in front of all his friends and relatives, meanwhile bearing the consequence of his own lustful desires, suffering in deep agony both physically and spiritually.
It all started ten years ago, while he was still fooling around with prostitutes and neglected the silent warning of the Holy Spirit. Initially he had some skin problems – herpes, and then he was treated by a dermatologist. After administering the medication for a while, the symptom persisted and he was referred to the National Skin Centre. The doctors there advised him to take the test for HIV. Randolph was shocked to hear the news, he was diagnosed with AIDS!
From then on, he suffered both physically and psychologically. He dared not to tell his friends and was afraid that they would withdraw from him. The trade-off was his conscience and he had to cover with all sorts of lies. He felt tired all the time and was very down. Finally, he told two of his best friends, one started to stay away from him and Randolph understood his friend’s concerns and feelings, so he did not bother him again. The other was his high school buddy, Andy, and they used to go to the same youth group together. Andy treated Randolph as usual and even cared more about him; they went out and even shared the food together. Andy accepted Randolph totally and did not look down on him because of what he had done. Andy did not condemn Randolph as well. He kept on supporting Randolph and encouraged him to turn back to God for help and forgiveness.
Randolph was very disturbed by his own sins, and he knew he had reached a point of no return in terms of his life. He stretched to reach out for the Bible beside his hospital bed, flipped to the Book of Psalms and started reading in sequence. In deep agony he turned to Psalm 6 and it caught his attention. Then he read it over and over and memorised it. Randolph was very fatigue and weak, he wanted to rest, however, he still read some verses out loud: “O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony……… Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love…”
Then he closed his eyes, felt very peaceful and gradually went into a deep, deep, sleep….
Your Initial Response
How do you rate your walk with God right now? If you have the same feeling as Randolph, read Psalm 6, close your eyes and pour out your heart to God for restoration.
1Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.
2Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
3My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?
4Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.
5Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave?
6I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.
7My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.
8Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping.
9The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.
10All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.(Psalm 6:1–10 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 Circle all of the words about God’s anger, mercy and love and connect them with straight lines (Psalm 6:1, 2, 4).
3 Underline the keynotes of David’s prayer and number them in ascending order.
4 Circle all the fate of the ungodly people and number them in ascending order.
5 Refer to other translations and come up with some new insights.
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
David was a “spiritual giant” but he was once at low spiritual ebb. The special thing was that David was awakened, and he grabbed the privilege to pray to God. If we were spiritually weak one day, let us recognise that seeking God’s mercy through prayers were the only appropriate way.
1 What was the meaning of “sheminith”?
2 What kind of weakness (CEV) is the poet talking about (Psalm 6:2)?
3 Why was David grieving so much (Psalm 6:6-7)?
4 Is there a connection between David’s weakness and his enemies (Psalm 6:10)?
A scholar indicates that “sheminith” is a kind of eight-stringed instrument or a musical instrument an octave lower. Therefore, a scholar infers it is a bass. From its title, readers recognise that it is another psalm written by David.
Psalm 6 was one of “the Penitential Psalms.” The whole psalm was filled with grief in it, but the poet mentioned nothing about the reason of his penitence. By referring to its context, David was suffering from some illness that brought him near death. Nevertheless, it is hard to relate this psalm with any known event in his life.
The theme of Psalm 6 is “A Cry for Mercy under Judgment.” The outline is as follows:
1 Prayer for relief from suffering (6:1-3)
2 Prayer for deliverance (6:4-5)
3 Lament over illness (6:6-7)
4 Assurance of restoration (6:8-10)
“Anger” and “wrath” are synonyms; similarly, “rebuke” and “discipline” are synonymous terms. The poet knew very well that he had provoked God to anger; therefore, he begged before the lord, saying, “Although you are angry, Lord, do not rebuke me.”
“Faint” is a verb that describes the withering of leaves and crops in other passages of the Bible. “Bones” was a word to signify the most inner being of a person. The poet’s bones were shaking (NET), indicating that the deepest part of his heart was filled with emotion of great fear. As people were under divine judgment, their hands shook consequently (Ezekiel 7:27). Bible expositors thought that David was seriously sick, and others inferred that it was a symbol of his spiritual distress. Most likely, as David was under divine judgment, thus he begged earnestly for God’s mercy.
“My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?” (NIV) “How long” was an incomplete sentence, thus revealing his intense frustration. As the poet was filled with the intense emotion of frustration, so he desired very much to receive God’s healing as soon as possible.
The “unfailing love” here can be interpreted as “loyal love.” Owing to the abundance of God’s love and faithfulness, He would for sure come to assist His people accordingly. The poet asked God boldly, asking Him to return; in other words, begging for His mercy.
“Grave’ is a symbolic place where dead people are. As to the Israelites in the Old Testament era, they regarded the dead had no vitality, no joy and no life in the grave. The poet indicated that dead people could not remember and praise God, implying that he longed for the Lord’s healing, so that he could continue to live in this world.
“I am exhausted as I groan; all night long I drench my bed in tears; my tears saturate the cushion beneath me.” (NET) Groaning is a loud lamentation. Furthermore, this verse describes the grievous situation of David that he could not sleep and wept the whole night. In short, by means of exaggeration, the poet revealed the intense grief in his heart.
“Grow weak” (NIV) means “waste away” in the original language. The poet cried until his eyes became swollen (HCSB), and even made his eyesight weak. God used David’s enemies to discipline him and he suffered greatly as a result.
At the end of this psalm, the emotion of the poet was changed drastically; sadness was changed to victorious joy. A scholar indicated that David was healed of his sickness because God had answered his prayer. Perhaps, David’s enemies rose up and mocked him when he was sick, increasing his pain consequently; or maybe the enemies of the poet was the direct source of his suffering. The poet boldly proclaimed that God had heard his weeping and his cry, and He had also accepted his prayer. As God had come to assist David again, that is, God had taken command of his life once again; therefore, David told his enemies to leave him. Furthermore, the poet proclaimed the fate of his enemies that they would be ashamed and terrified all of a sudden, and they would quickly run away in complete disgrace.
The great affliction made David suffer unspeakably. However, this was a self-inflicted suffering that David deserved. The precious thing is that God has not forsaken David, granting assistance to him based on his cry.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Some self-inflicted sufferings are the ones we deserved, and we had to face the evil consequence consequently (cf. Psalm 6:1).
2 As godly people, when we are entrapped in difficulties, we should pray to and depend on God with faith.
3 Memorize Psalm 6:9-10.
9The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. 10All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace. (Psalm 6:9-10)
4 Resolve to depend on God’s mercy to face the evil consequence of our mistakes, and experience the power of prayers accordingly (cf. Psalm 6:1).
5 God is willing to listen to the prayers of His children; let’s learn to claim this promise.
6 Are there any ways or principles that we can employ in our ministry?
7 In the process of studying the Bible, are there any principles that we can refer to in our church life?
8 We should learn to bring the problems of human affairs that we encountered to God and asked him to defend for us (Psalm 6:8-10).
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believer.