TO THE CHOIRMASTER: WITH STRINGED INSTRUMENTS; ACCORDING TO THE SHEMINITH. A PSALM OF DAVID.
1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
2 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD—how long?
4 Turn, O LORD, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?
6 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 (Psalms 6:1–10 ESV).
“anger…wrath…” and “gracious…steadfast love”?
There is a tedency to focus on the love of God and avoid discussion of his wrath. However, in such a season as Lent when we are meditating on our sinfulness and mortality, discussion of God’s wrath against sin is unavoidable. Thinking of God’s wrath need not be unhealthy. David apparently sees no discrepancy between the anger and wrath of the LORD toward his own sinfulness and the LORD’s steadfast love (v. 4; Heb. hesed). David is surely convinced of God’s anger and wrath. Nevertheless it still leads him to beg of the LORD to be “gracious…heal…(v.2)…turn…deliver…save… (v.3)” according to His covenantal love. And there is a great urgency to do so for death is just around the corner: “For in death there is no remembrance of you…” (v. 5; cf. Heb 9:27).
“Depart from me, all you workers of evil…”: From Guilt to Grace to Gratitude
David progresses from his guilt over his moral failures to his appeal to the grace and mercy and hesed of the LORD. This then progresses to his gratitude that results in a changed life. The “gospel” properly understood and experienced fuels our sanctification, our transformation into the Christlike character. We no longer desire the flesh that takes us back to the life that lead to God’s original wrath.
The final dismissal for workers of evil could refer to those enemies who wish “evil” or harm to David. But it could also include the people and things that worked evil in his life, the very things that lead to God’s wrath against him. Who or what is a “working evil” in your life today? These are more than just enemies—they can be anyone or anything that leads you back to your “pre-grace” fleshly patterns.