A Meditation on Psalm 6: 6-10

Kevin J Youngblood
I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
7 My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.
8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
(Psalm 6:6-10)

Grief is exhausting, relentless, and persistent. It feels like it will never end. The psalms’ honesty regarding the real nature of grief is perhaps the secret to their power and appeal. These poignant images of tear drenched beds from nights spent weeping alone resonate with us at a deep level. The psalms are also unafraid to question God’s apparent absence and inactivity when we need him most. Why does he leave us in this state for such prolonged periods of time? How long, O LORD?

On the other hand, the suddenness with which the psalmist shifts from lament to confidence in verse 8 is enough to give any reader literary whiplash. What happened between v. 7 and v. 8 to account for this immediate, drastic turn? Reading Psalm 6 reminds me of the incident recorded in Jeremiah 20. Jeremiah had just spent a night in the stocks due to his defiance of Passhur the priest. Upon his release the next morning, Jeremiah, totally uncowed and undeterred by this disciplinary action, unleashes a bold tirade on Passhur calling unimaginable curses down on him and his family. Immediately after this confrontation with Passhur, however, Jeremiah turns in solitude to YHWH and completely breaks down. The prophet who was so robust, raging, and unyielding in the public eye, is reduced to childlike sobbing in the privacy of his prayer closet.

In the respect, Jeremiah 20 is like a mirror image of Psalm 6. Just as suddenly as Psalm 6 shifts from despairing lament to bold, confident rebuke, Jeremiah shifts from prophetic tirade to despairing lament. The inversion is instructive. Not only does Psalm 6:8 shift from lament to confidence – a typical shift in lament psalms – it also shifts from addressing YHWH in prayer to addressing enemies directly in a manner similar to Jeremiah 20. In YHWH’s presence we are safe and therefore free to be vulnerable and disclose our deepest and truest feelings. When we turn to face our enemies, however, we instinctively (and rightly) hide all our vulnerability behind a seething anger.

One could think of it this way. In the privacy of the prayer closet we disclose to God the truth of our weariness, the fear that our languishing hearts cannot endure another day of battle with our brutal spiritual enemies. Somehow, however, this unloading to God replenishes us. While he may not ease the burden of our situation he pours untapped reserves of endurance, determination, and hope into us and we emerge from our prayer closet swinging, raging. I have never really thought of prayer as a kind of spiritual adrenaline rush, but reading and praying the psalms and dealing with their hairpin turns, sudden accelerations and equally sudden drops has challenged me to see a new aspect to prayer or at least a new metaphor for what happens to me when attend faithfully to this discipline – a daily adrenaline rush courtesy of the Holy Spirit. Strength and energy I did not even know I had, and probably didn’t have prior to prayer, comes rushing in and deep, divine determination thrusts me back into the fray.

This has led to another insight related to the first question I asked. Why does God let grief go on and on? Could it be that the relentlessness of my grief is the very catalyst of consistency in prayer? Is it the unbearable pain of my unyielding circumstances that has driven me daily to my prayer closet for these private meetings, these breakdowns before God? Would I have even developed this discipline without these unsurmountable challenges?


I am here for my daily adrenaline rush. Life has left me wrung out, exhausted, and I have nothing left in me for the challenges awaiting me today. I breakdown in your presence, all pretense of competence, and wisdom or even desire and determination siphoned out of me. Replenish me God as only you can. If life is not going to get any easier, if my enemies and challenges are only going to continue to multiply, then you are going to have to infuse me with your passion and power because I have none of my own left. Lord Jesus, how often you retreated to lonely desolate places to break down before God. How I wish I knew what you said to your Father on those occasions. Only the one in Gethsemane is recorded for us. Thank you for joining us in our exhaustion and despair, for showing us what to do when our tanks are empty and we don’t even have fumes to run on. Holy Spirit, thank you for reviving us when we pray. You are the adrenaline the Father injects into us when we haven’t the strength to take the next step.