To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. On an eight-stringed harp.A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.
2 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled;
But You, O Lord — how long?
4 Return, O Lord, deliver me!
Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake!
5 For in death there is no remembrance of You;
In the grave who will give You thanks?
6 I am weary with my groaning;
All night I make my bed swim;
I drench my couch with my tears.
7 My eye wastes away because of grief;
It grows old because of all my enemies.
8 Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity;
For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my supplication;
The Lord will receive my prayer.
10 Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled;
Let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly.
This is the first penitential psalm. The others are 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143.
Lord (5x in vs. 1-5) = Yahweh — God’s covenant name
rebuke and chasten (v.1) — primarily the responsibilities of a father — David is approaching God as his Father.
mercy (v.2) = steadfast love — specifically “covenant love” for the Lord’s own.
David begins with his troubles (vs. 2-3), but ends with the troubles the Lord will bring upon his enemies (v.10).
David’s reasons why God should deliver him are 1) God’s mercy (v.4); and 2) he can’t worship God if he’s dead (v.5).
Though David’s distressing circumstances may be a just expression of God’s loving chastisement for his sin(s), they are nonetheless a source of anxiety and — to a certain extent — even depression. These are natural human responses to ongoing and unfavorable circumstances, which, as is clearly the case here with David, can take quite a toll on both body and mind. Such responses are not sinful, and, as modeled here by David, it is an acceptable — even incumbent — part of worship for us to bare the turmoil and distress of our hearts to God, who as our loving and sympathetic Father (cf. Hebrews 4:15) earnestly desired to hear us. — Wechsler, pages 34-35.
Jesus quoted vs. 8 in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:23) of those who proclaim to do works for God but don’t do His will.
As typically in David’s psalms of lament, complaint and petition, he ends on a positive, confident note, characterized not by a look back at what God has done to resolve his situation, but rather by a look forward to what God will do — if not in this life, then unquestionably in the next, when all who do iniquity will finally be judged and David, in the company of those who love God, will stand in the full light of His presence (cf. Psalm 16:11; 142:7). — Wechsler, page 35
A couple of the commentaries pointed out that David doesn’t seem to dwell on his sin in the psalm, or confess it. But he does believe that the tribulation caused by his enemies, and perhaps even his physical ailments in this case, are a result of God’s judgment for his sin(s).