Some Psalms
Lesson 3

Lesson Three

The Struggle

Text: Psalm 6

There is an enormous difference between what the psalmist could know and what the informed Christian can know.  This lesson will make a serious effort to distinguish between what the psalmist could not know and what the informed Christian can know.

The problem is in the foundation of personal spiritual crisis.  It is the same in every age.  What problem?  It is the problem of feeling that “I” alienated God when “I” become aware of how bad “I” am and how terrible “my” acts have been.  “I” am so upset because of “my” own mistakes that “I” am certain God wants nothing to do with “me.”


Consider the problem from both an Israelite and Christian perspective.  First, look from an Israelite perspective.  Read 2 Samuel 11 through 12:15.  The Jewish law given by God was quite specific in Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18.  Both the man and the woman were subject to the death penalty (Leviticus 20:10).  This was not an unknown to King David—it was in the very foundation of Jewish law!  I think it is in the foundation of David’s response to Nathan—“I have sinned against the Lord.”  This act went beyond the violation of a marriage!  David offended more than Uriah’s marriage!  Why else would Nathan’s response to David be, “The Lord has taken away your sin; you shall not die.”  David knew how wickedly he acted in the entire ordeal!


Second, from the Christian perspective, consider the apostle Paul.  Few Christians understand what an evil man Paul was prior to conversion.  Read what he said about himself in that period in Acts 26:9-11.  A Jew who would kill a fellow Jew, a man who was hostile, a man who helped imprison people who belonged to God, and a man who tried to intimidate people in a place of worship—regardless of his motives—is a mean man to be feared!  Consider the reaction of Jerusalem Christians to the converted Paul in Acts 9:26, 27.


The challenge: How does a person deal with what he formerly did when he learns better?  How does a person forgive self for what he/she did?  If the person struggles with forgiving self, can the person accept God’s forgiveness?  Is God’s forgiveness greater than our ability to forgive self?  Is that not a primary faith issue in any age?


Can you imagine David’s shock when Nathan said, “The Lord has taken away your sin....”  Read how overwhelmed the apostle Paul was at God’s mercy in 1 Timothy 1:12-14.  His wickedness served as an example of God’s goodness revealed through Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:15, 16)—that was okay with Paul, in fact it was appropriate.


The irony: The more mature in godliness a person becomes, the more indebted to God the person realizes he/she is.  Thus, as godliness increases in the person, the problem increases.  As a result, the need for faith increases. This struggle never ends—awareness simply increases and intensifies the problem!


Psalm 6 revealed the struggle.  The psalmist realized he had offended God.  He is convinced his offense has alienated God, and he felt the alienation.  He felt the alienation so deeply, he pled for the Lord’s healing.  He felt the alienation so deeply that his bones were out of joint and life itself was a wreck.


However, as bad as things were, the psalmist knew God was his answer, not his problem.  He—his behavior—was the problem, not God.  God was the source of rescue and saving.   The Christian is so accustomed to thinking of salvation (saving) as a spiritual act that delivers from sin, that he/she too rarely thinks of the act of saving as being a rescue from any form of dangerous threat.  The only One who could rescue the psalmist from his dilemma was God—not other people nor burying himself in some physical pursuit of personal interest.  If the understanding is correct, the psalmist basically said, “How can I do anything for You if I am dead?”  Does that not indicate how serious the psalmist considered the struggle?


(Notice death is a reality, but also an unknown.)


The psalmist found the struggle exhausting.  He cried so much his bed swam, and the chair he sat on was waterlogged.  His eyes were swollen from crying.  His enemies made fun of his reaction to his distress.


Thus, he did not turn to people (an indication of how alone he felt?), but to God.  He wanted nothing to do with wicked people.  As much as he hurt, he knew God listened to him.  He knew ultimately God would vindicate him.


Note: This was not a God crises, but a “me” crisis.  The psalmist was powerfully blaming himself, not God.  It takes a remarkable person whose faith in God has some depth to separate a “me” crisis from a God crisis.  Unfortunately, most of us allow a “me” crisis to become a God crisis.  If one’s faith is in ”me” and “my acts and goodness,” our “me” crises are destined to become a God crisis.


As a matter of perspective, think about how blessed you are as a Christian to have a basic understanding of the afterlife that the psalmist did not have available to him.  What a blessing to understand that death does not separate a person from God and His ability to reward!



For Thought and Discussion


1. In what is there an enormous difference?

2. State the problem.

3. Illustrate the problem with King David and Bathsheba.  With the apostle Paul.

4. State the challenge.

5. When does this challenge become an overwhelming shock?

6. State the irony.

7. What did Psalm 6 reveal?  What was and was not the problem?

8. State how the psalmist emphasized the struggle was exhausting.

9. What kind of crisis was Psalm 6?  When do “me” crises become a God crisis?

10. What are you asked to consider as a matter of perspective?

Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 3

Copyright © 2010
David Chadwell & West-Ark Church of Christ

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