The First Woodshed Psalms
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 3/3/03
Likely there are few, if any, people in this service that had a woodshed either attached to or near their house, because very few of us grew up in houses heated by wood. When houses were heated with wood, it is common to have a woodshed to store the wood and keep it dry. However, the woodshed was notoriously used as a place to administer corporeal punishment. While we did not have a woodshed when I was a youngster, we did have a basement storage room where the board of education was applied to the seat of wisdom.
So why am I talking about "the woodshed?" It is because Psalm 6 is the first of seven Penitential Psalms. The others are Psalm 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143.
To understand what a Penitential Psalms is we need to understand that the word penitent means. Penitent means suffering pain or sorrow of heart on account of sins, crimes or offenses. It is being sincerely affected by a sense of guilt and resolving to amend your life.
It is clear from Psalm 6 that David had written this song about a "woodshed" experience he had with God. In this message we will examineÖ
Letís begin by examining...
To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David. The Neginoth is a stringed instrument. Upon Sheminith is a harder term to figure out. The word itself means "the eighth," which in music is an octave. Some think it refers to the bass or tenor key, which would certainly be well adapted to this mournful song.
It is clear that this song was the product of a repentant, humble heart.
In this first verse we see that God has two ways He deals with his disobedience children, to bring them back to obedience. First, He uses his Word. This is indicated by the use of the word rebuke. The Hebrew word indicates being chided, reproved or rebuked. Sometimes the Lord rebukes or reproves men by His Holy Spirit. Sometimes He uses His ministers. An example is Paulís rebuke of Peter. Turn to Galatians 2:11-12 "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision." Other times God uses His Word!
David was not concerned about the rebuke per say, rather, he pleaded with God, "rebuke me not in thine anger." Now, consider the word anger. It comes from the Hebrew word that refers to flared nostrils and heavy breathing, which are indicators of someone who is seriously angry. I donít know about you, but when I got a lecture from my parents, I did not want them to be angry! But I can also tell you this. If I did not correct my way after stern words of warning, chastening with a switch or paddle was not far behind, for my behind.
Thatís exactly that happens with Godís rebellious children. If they will not listen to his rebukes, God as a good Father takes up the rod and beats them. If you have any doubt about that, take a look at Hebrews 12. Verse 6 of that chapter says, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." This second aspect is seen in the word chasten. Once again, David is not denying Godís right to chasten him; rather, David pleads with God "neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure." 1b. My children can no doubt testify that getting a spanking was never fun. However, it was much worse if they lipped off and I was angry when I spanked them.
Look carefully at verses 2 & 3 -- "Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. 3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?"
The Lord can make the strongest and most insensible sinner aware of His displeasure by touching that personís body and mind. (Job & Nebuchadnezzar)
Clearly, David acknowledges his sin. And, he acknowledges Godís chastisement. It had taken it toll on his body and his mind. He says, "my bones are vexed" and "my soul isÖsore vexed." David begs God for relief from chastisementÖOh LORD please stop!
"Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake."
This verse makes it clear that Godís absence was the main cause of Davidís misery. He pleads with God, return! His plea is, deliver my soul. A Christian who is out of fellowship with God has no peace of God. His life is filled with anxiety, strife, fear and more.
However, David knew his iniquity too well to think of making a plea based on his personal merit, nor to appeal to anything but the mercy of God. David was confident in the mercies of the Lord. He wrote, "O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever." 1 Chronicles 16:34
"For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?"
Three times I have vacationed in Plymouth Massachusetts. Each time I have been there I have visited the graveyard and the graves of many of the Pilgrim Fathers. The cemeteries were silent. I did not hear any prayers or songs of thanks being sung by the deceased! Why? Because, praising the Lord is the function of the living not the dead.
David was not ready to die. And, in essence he says, if you will spare my life Lord, I will praise you before men.
A Christian who is out of fellowship with God is in big trouble!
Davidís Clear Description of His Agonies (6-7)
"I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. 7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies."
Soul trouble is often accompanied with great pain of the mind and body too. David describes his agonies of being out of fellowship with God. He was depressed because of his sin and separation from God. Sin often brings depression. Sighing (groaning), sleeplessness, and tears are indicators of the depression sin brings (v.6)
The eyes that had looked and lusted after his neighborís wife are now dimmed and darkened with grief and indignation. He has wept himself almost blind. His enemies so dogged him that he became weak (v.7).
Living in sin and being at odds with God had completely warn David out.
"Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping. 9 The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.í
The prophet Isaiah said "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." Isaiah 55:7. David was fully assured that God had heard his prayer and would deliver him from his troubles at any moment (8b & 9a). Therefore, he separated himself from his wicked associates. Evil companions will always hinder your relationship with God.
"Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly."
This is a brief example of an imprecatory prayer. The word imprecatory means a call for evil to befall a person. Therefore an imprecatory prayer is a prayer for evil to befall someone.
David is simply praying, may the trials that befell me, and that you rejoiced in, fall on you. Those who study the Psalms carefully will discover that these prayers are common.
A thoughtful person has to ask, why would anyone sing
this kind of song? Have you ever heard the expression, "Crime doesnít
pay?" Well, David authored this song to be sung so that people might see
that sin does not pay. May I suggest that if you are a Christian
living in unconfessed sin that you repent quickly before God takes you to
the wood shed.