A penitential psalm to Yahweh (Ps 6:1-6:3)

“To the choirmaster leader with stringed instruments, according to the Sheminith, a psalm of David.


Do not rebuke me in your anger!

Do not discipline me in your wrath!

Be gracious to me!


I am languishing.


Heal me!

My bones are shaking with terror.

My soul also is struck with terror.

But you Yahweh!

How long will this last?”

This Psalm 6 is a psalm for healing or a penitential psalm. Once again, there is a note to the choirmaster or leader about stringed instruments. It also is a psalm of David without any particular designation of any event in his life. However, there is this note about Sheminith, the Hebrew word for 8th so that it may mean this psalm should be sung in an 8th key or octave, perhaps the lowest male note. This would fit with the concept of this penitential lament. This is addressed to Yahweh directly. David did not want to be rebuked or disciplined by Yahweh because he was angry. He wanted Yahweh to be gracious to him. Both his body and soul were struck with terror. He wanted to know how long this was going to last.

The foes rise up (Ps 3:1-3: 2)

A psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.


How many are my foes?

Many are rising against me.

Many are saying of me.

There is no help for you in God.


In 2 Samuel, chapters 15-18, David fled from his son Absalom who wanted to take the throne away from him. Thus this Psalm 3 has an explicit mention of when David might have composed his psalm as he left Jerusalem. David addressed Yahweh in a complaining way. He had so many enemies, that even his son had rebelled against him. Many others were joining his son Absalom. They were saying that God would not help him. Then we have the “Selah,” which either means a pause or a musical interlude before the continuation of the psalm. This term “Selah” appears over 70 times in the various psalms.