1 O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath!
2 For your arrows have sunk into me,
and your hand has come down on me.
3 There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
5 My wounds stink and fester
because of my foolishness,
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning.
7 For my sides are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
9 O Lord, all my longing is before you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
and my nearest kin stand far off.
12 Those who seek my life lay their snares;
those who seek my hurt speak of ruin
and meditate treachery all day long.
13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14 I have become like a man who does not hear,
and in whose mouth are no rebukes.
15 But for you, O Lord, do I wait;
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
16 For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me,
who boast against me when my foot slips!”
17 For I am ready to fall,
and my pain is ever before me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
I am sorry for my sin.
19 But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty,
and many are those who hate me wrongfully.
20 Those who render me evil for good
accuse me because I follow after good.
21 Do not forsake me, O Lord!
O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!
I’m always amazed that David knew the heart of God so well, without the Psalms to teach him. They only existed after he wrote them, so somehow he had to understand the mercy and majesty of God from other sources. But he makes it so clear for us.
“O Lord, rebuke me not in Your wrath,
And chasten me not in Your burning anger.”
David doesn’t ask God to not rebuke or chasten him, but only that it will be free from wrath and anger. God’s rebuke and chastening (to humble and correct) bring life. They save us from the destruction our sin brings. The rest of the psalm David is talking about all the pain and trouble he is in ‘Because of my folly’ (v 5). I think he knows he needs correction, and even welcomes it, but the one thing he doesn’t want is for God to be angry with him. He’s asking for mercy.
Everyone else abandons him. Even his own body fails him. His friends and family back off and leave him to his fate. But he expects God will rescue him even though his sin is fully known to God.
That expectation of love and forgiveness and help and restoration is what amazes me. Sure, we all know and expect God to be loving because we have been raised with the idea of a loving father in heaven. But for David this was a radical idea compared to the religions around him. And even though I’ve been raised to believe in a loving God, I still find myself forgetting to go to God, or even thinking he is against me, when I face troubles. I want to have a heart like Davids, and I suspect it comes from just regularly worshipping God with gratitude, and letting his presence change our hearts.
Then maybe when the next trouble comes, we can honestly say “I hope in You, Lord, You will answer.”