For about 4 years of my nursing career I had the privilege of being involved in palliative care, working in a Hospice. I say ‘privilege’, and it was, but of course, it was also very confronting and a very real challenge to care for people at the end stage of their lives (seeking to relieve their symptoms), and to somehow bring some measure of comfort to them and their loves ones. There were many times when Psalm 6 could have expressed how people felt. Many could have said, “I’m sick and frail. I’m fading away with weakness…I’m falling apart…I’m so exhausted and worn-out with my weeping. I endure weary, sleepless nights filled with moaning, soaking my pillow with my tears.” (6:2,6 TPT)
The beauty of the Psalms is that they are timeless. We are not told of the circumstances when David wrote this lament psalm (also considered to be the first of the seven penitential psalms), only that he was obviously seriously unwell, even to the point where he considered he may even die. An experience many people through the ages could identify with. Even Jesus!
Wilcock suggests that this psalm is the “most emotional so far”, but at the same time is a “work of art, in the sense that effort (work) and skill (art) were put into the making of it.” He is talking about the psalmist’s use of the tools of Hebrew poetry of the day. Such things as parallelism (verse 1), repetition (verses 2-3), etc. (see references # 5)
Today though, I just want us to consider the words of verses 6 and 8. “I am worn out with groaning, all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears…[but] the Lord has heard [the voice of] of [my] weeping.”
In literature the words above in bold font are known as a hyperbole, i.e. an extreme exaggeration used to make a point.
And I think we get the point! The psalmist’s life is in turmoil and he is greatly distressed. In fact, so distressed he has been weeping constantly before God.
What interests me though is the mention and therefore the place of tears in our relationship with God and particularly in our prayers.
C.H. Spurgeon commenting on Psalm 6:6,8 says:
“Is there a voice in weeping? Does weeping speak? In what language does it utter its meaning? Why, in that universal tongue which is known and understood in all the earth, and even in heaven itself…Weeping is the eloquence of sorrow. It is an unstammering orator, needing no interpreter, but understood [by] all. Is it not sweet to believe that our tears are understood even when words fail? Let us learn to think of tears as liquid prayers…[received by God’s] heart of mercy.” (see references # 28)
In the Passion Translation, Psalm 38:9 says, “Lord you know all my desires and deepest longings, my tears are liquid words and you can read them.”
And there are many others:
“You’ve kept track of…my weeping. You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle, not one will be lost. You care about me every time I’ve cried. For it is all recorded in your book of remembrance.” (Psalm 56:8 TPT)
“My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (Psalm 42:3 NIV)
So, I suggest that as we pray and there is pain associated with our prayers (for ourselves and/or for others) then allow our tears to flow and speak for us to our merciful and gracious Father. And the promise of Psalm 126 is that “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” (Psalm 126:5 NIV)
And if it was good enough for Jesus (Hebrews 5:7) and Paul (Acts 20:19), then it is good enough for us!
I certainly have experienced a few times in my life when my tears have been “liquid words” read by God, and God has “heard the voice of my weeping” and answered. What about you?
Father, thank you that you see our tears and respond in your own way and in your own good time in the best way possible. But we also thank you that one day you, “The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.” (Isaiah 25:8, Revelation 21:4) Hallelujah!