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Commentary On Psalms Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Psalm 6:1

1. Jehovah, rebuke me not in thine anger, and chastise me not in thine indignation.

The calamity which David now experienced had, perhaps, been inflicted by men, but he wisely considers that he has to deal with God. Those persons are very unsuitably exercised under their afflictions who do not immediately take a near and a steady view of their sins, in order thereby to produce the conviction that they have deserved the wrath of God. And yet we see how thoughtless and insensible almost all men are on this subject; for while they cry out that they are afflicted and miserable, scarcely one among a hundred looks to the hand which strikes. From whatever quarter, therefore, our afflictions come, let us learn to turn our thoughts instantly to God, and to acknowledge him as the Judge who summons us as guilty before his tribunal, since we, of our own accord, do not anticipate his judgment. But as men, when they are compelled to feel that God is angry with them, often indulge in complaints full of impiety, rather than find fault with themselves and their own sins, it is to be particularly noticed that David does not simply ascribe to God the afflictions under which he is now suffering, but acknowledges them to be the just recompense of his sins. He does not take God to task as if he had been an enemy, treating him with cruelty without any just cause; but yielding to him the right of rebuking and chastening, he desires and prays only that bounds may be set to the punishment inflicted on him. By this he declares God to be a just Judge in taking vengeance on the sins of men. But as soon as he has confessed that he is justly chastised, he earnestly beseeches God not to deal with him in strict justice, or according to the utmost rigour of the law. He does not altogether refuse punishment, for that would be unreasonable; and to be without it, he judged would be more hurtful than beneficial to him: but what he is afraid of is the wrath of God, which threatens sinners with ruin and perdition. To anger and indignation David tacitly opposes fatherly and gentle chastisement, and this last he was willing to bear. We have a similar contrast in the words of Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 10:24,) |O Lord,| says he, |correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger.| God is, indeed, said to be angry with sinners whenever he inflicts punishment upon them, but not in the proper and strict sense, inasmuch as he not only mingles with it some of the sweetness of his grace to mitigate their sorrow, but also shows himself favorable to them, in moderating their punishment, and in mercifully drawing back his hand. But, as we must necessarily be stricken with terror whenever he shows himself the avenger of wickedness, it is not without cause that David, according to the sense of the flesh, is afraid of his anger and indignation. The meaning therefore is this: I indeed confess, O Lord, that I deserve to be destroyed and brought to nought; but as I would be unable to endure the severity of thy wrath, deal not with me according to my deserts, but rather pardon my sins, by which I have provoked thine anger against me. As often, then, as we are pressed down by adversity, let us learn, from the example of David, to have recourse to this remedy, that we may be brought into a state of peace with God; for it is not to be expected that it can be well or prosperous with us if we are not interested in his favor. Whence it follows, that we shall never be without a load of evils, until he forgive us our sins.

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