Psalm 6: 4-5.
Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for Thy mercies’ sake.
For in death there is no remembrance of Thee: in the grave who shall give Thee thanks?
The farther I study into this Psalm, the more convicted I am about my own personal need for the same mercy for which David cried; and for my nation’s need for sincere repentance and return to the Word of God. Again, we are not told what particular sin had brought David to this place of abject pleading. It doesn’t take long, though, if we are honest with ourselves, to recognize the areas in which we have our deepest need. On the national level, America has legislated God out of so much of our public life. We’re going to be pleading for mercy because of that!
By the way, did you know that the idea of separation between church and state is not a part of the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence? It was Thomas Jefferson, an acknowledged Deist, who mentioned it in a personal letter. It was also Jefferson who edited the Bible to his own liking by removing anything he personally found offensive.
What is a Deist? Glad you asked! In brief, a Deist is someone who subscribes to the liberal religious stand that values reason over revelation and rejects traditional Christian doctrines, including the Virgin Birth, original sin and the resurrection of Jesus. Jefferson would have liked a song that was popular a few years back. I don’t remember the title, but a repeated refrain was “God is watching us, God is watching us. . . . .from a distance.” While not denying the existence of God, Deism refuses the idea of a personal God Who deserves our obedience and love. More, it deletes the importance of Jesus Christ, sin, and salvation.
All that, however is a different topic for another day.
David did not deny the existence of God, nor the right God had to chastise him when he turned his back on God. What right does God have to intervene in our lives? Well, it is compound, actually. He has the right of His sovereignty; the right of creatorship; the right of ownership over that which He has created. For a believer, He has the right of the Father to discipline His child. The Bible tells us that God chastises those He loves–BECAUSE He loves us! Any good parent will chastise an erring child in order to help him understand right, wrong, and consequences.
I find it interesting that David pleads with God to deliver his soul. The word deliver is interpreted in the following ways:
to remove, draw out, draw off, take off, withdraw, equip (for war), arm for war, rescue, be rescued
(Qal) equipped (participle)
to be equipped
to go equipped
to be armed
to make strong, brace up
to draw off or out, withdraw
to draw, draw off
to be delivered
to be saved
to pull out, tear out
to rescue, deliver, set free
to take away, plunder
Soul, here is the self, life, desire, emotion, passion. When we are caught up in sin, it consumes every part of us. Only God can deliver us from the hold of sin over our desires and passions.
David asks for deliverance for Thy mercies’ sake, or because of Your mercy. David knew he did not deserve forgiveness, and pleaded for mercy instead of chastisement.
Verse 5 gives us a good picture into the Old Testament lack of sure knowledge about life after death. We learn a lot more about that in the New Testament, but David didn’t have that kind of knowledge. He understood that there would be existence past the grave, but he did not know how that would look. He also clearly knew that he needed to get things right with God before death took that opportunity away. Here’s an interesting perspective on this verse:
David’s point isn’t to present a comprehensive theology of the world beyond. He is in agony, fearing for his life, and he knows he can remember God and give Him thanks now. He doesn’t have the same certainty about the world beyond, so he asks God to act according to his certainty.
iv. “At rare moments the Psalms have glimpses of rescue from Sheol, in terms that suggest resurrection, or a translation like that of Enoch or Elijah (c.f. 16:10; 17:15; 49:15; 73:24).” (Kidner)