Psalm 6 – How Long?

One of my spiritual passions has been reading the Psalms. As a worship leader I have always felt that the Psalms were especially relevant to my ministry.  Once a month I will be sharing a Psalm with you. So far we have looked at Psalm 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.


I find it very intriguing to learn about the poetic structure of a psalm since Hebrew poetry is so different from the poetry we are used to reading.  Psalm 6 is divided into two very balanced and symmetrical sections.  Both sections are 39 words and 5 lines in Hebrew.  The 1st section is addressed to God and the second section is addressed to people.  Each section is divided into two parts, or strophes.  The strophes are symmetrical in structure:

First Strophe is 3 verses and 24 words in Hebrew.
Second Strophe is 2 verses and 15 words.
Third Strophe is 2 verses and 15 words.
Fourth Strophe is 3 verses and 24 words.

Often one can gain insight into the psalm by looking at the center phrase.  In Psalm 6 the meaningful center is in verse 6, "I am weary with my moaning."  This psalm is about the anguish we feel when waiting for God's answer to our struggles.

How Long?

Psalm 6:1-3

David is in great anguish over God's discipline in his life.  It could be that David is sick since he cries out for healing.  At the end of this Strophe David asks that question that is so common while in suffering, "How long, O LORD?"  I love the fact that David in the psalms is so real and open.  Don't be afraid to follow David's example and cry out to God for relief - to say to God, "how long?"

Turn and Save me!

Psalm 6:4-5

David pleads with God to "turn" to him and save him.  The picture is that God has turned his back and allowed David to suffer, now please turn back to rescue.  David basis his plea on God's character - His love and goodness.  David does not plea based upon his own goodness, but based on the goodness of God.  Our redemption from sin is never because of our goodness - we must always plead for mercy based on Christ's sacrifice.

I am worn out from sorrow

Psalm 6:6-7

The 3rd Strophe begins David's communication to the listener.  He now lays out his sorrow to the people.

Turn and be humiliated - God is Coming

Psalm 6:8-10

Apparently some of David's sorrow is the result of evil people.  David now warns them that God has heard his prayer and is coming to rescue.  He began Strophe 2 by asking God to "turn" towards him and rescue him.  He ends Strophe 4 by warning the evil people that God has "turned" to him and will now "turn" them around and shame them for their evil behavior.

Psalm 6 reminds us that in our pain, when God seems to have turned away from us, when we have reached the end and are crying out "how long?", God has not deserted us.  He will turn to us and rescue us.  Hold on.  God has heard your cry.

Side note:  David, in verse 5, seems to suggest that there is no life after death,"For in death there is no remembrance of you."  Jesus, in Luke 20:34-38, makes it clear that there is life after death.  David's point is that the world will no longer hear him praise God if God allows him to die.  David's remembrances of God and praise of God will disappear if he dies.

Jerry Wyrick

This post is part of a series on the Psalms.

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in General Worship, Personal Worship, Psalms and tagged , .