Day 9

A Prayer for Mercy

from the Psalms for Prayer reading plan


Psalm 6:1-10

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Psalm 6:1-10

When I was a high school senior, I audited an upper-level English literature course at a local college. The professor assigned two novels, both of which were written in 18th-century English, and extremely hard for this 18-year-old to decipher. Luckily, the professor explained each reading at length, and though much of that course has disappeared from my memory, I’ll never forget a quote from George Eliot’s Middlemarch. For some reason, it implanted itself in my mind, and I doubt it will ever leave. It reads:

“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”

What I take from that quote is this: If we could hear “all ordinary human life” it would be deafening. Can you imagine hearing everything? From the simple growth of the grass all around us, to the cries of children in the night from hunger, to the millions upon millions of groans that go up to the Lord each moment? I cannot fathom the sound.

That’s why, when it comes to Psalm 6, I know I’m on holy ground.

I don’t know for certain what left David so shaken that he wore himself out with groaning—although, there are plenty of scenarios to choose from in 1 and 2 Samuel. His best friend’s father was trying to kill him. He had to hide away in enemy territory for decades. The only men who went with him were desperate, indebted criminals (1 Samuel 22:2). In many ways, he was alone in the world.

I don’t know exactly why David wrote this psalm, and I don’t know how you’ll relate to it, either. Perhaps the imagery of crying nightly against your pillow is no imagery at all. Perhaps that’s your reality. Marriages falter under the weight of years of sorrow. Children defy our expectations and hopes. Relationships plunder our hearts, leaving us to clean up the wreckage. Even the best, most hopeful times of our lives, leave us wondering what lurks around the next corner.

If your eyes are open, if your heart is beating, you know that life is full of perpetual ache. Like George Eliot said, if we could hear it all, “we should die of that roar.” But here is the beautiful thing about our God: He hears every single prayer. He catches our tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). And though we are unable to bear the weight of that much sorrow, He can. And He has (Isaiah 53:3-4).

After reading the seven preceding verses about grief, I love the final three in this psalm, how the idea of hope emerges from them. I can imagine David writing them, taking a deep, post-cry breath—you know the kind. Maybe it’s still shaky. But it fills your lungs with oxygen and enables you to sit up straight and wipe the tears from your eyes. David rises to face his fears, not because his circumstances have changed, but because he is confident that the Lord has heard his weeping, and accepts his prayer (Psalm 6:9).

Whatever tears you are shedding today, rest in confidence that the Lord hears you clearly. He knows you, accepts you in Christ, wants to commune with you, and longs to be gracious to you, even in the darkest hours (Isaiah 30:18).

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Claire Gibson is a writer whose work has been featured in publications including The Washington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine among many others. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Patrick, their son, Sam, and their dog, Winnie. Her debut novel, Beyond the Point, will be published next year.

Post Comments (72)

72 thoughts on "A Prayer for Mercy"

  1. Abbigail Clark says:

    In this season I’m am learning how it is easy to be very surface level in my reading. I pray that after hearing the desperation in this scripture that I can seek that passion in my day to day journey with the Lord. It’s rather challenging sometimes for me to really connect with what I’m reading, when it seems far off or distant from where I am at… Today I have realized that in order for me to leave these devotions feeling refreshed and renewed, I need to make an effort to connect with it – I need to reread until it is confirmed in my spirit. I’m praying I can become less shallow with scripture that I have a hard time connecting with.

    1. Mandy Peterson says:

      I relate to this on so many levels. Thank you for sharing. Praying we both can connect with Scripture during our devotions.

  2. Holiday Hutchinson says:

    I so desperately needed these words. I’ve literally been crying into my pillow since last night. It’s easy to forget, when crying out to God, that He really does hear you. I need a lot of comfort right now. And I’m grateful to be reminded that God provides that.

  3. Jocelyn Abrahamson says:

    Wow. This made me emotional. I always tend to think in my times of sorrow and grief that I am alone, but to think that I have such a loving God who hears all of my cries, along with all the others in the human world, is heavy and humbling. What a wonderful Father we have. Praise God forever.

  4. Tara says:

    What a great reminder for today! God hears our prayers! I especially loved Psalm 56:8, God puts our tears in a bottle. He knows what every tear was for and has heard our plea for His help and guidance.

  5. Amy Beth says:

    So needed for me today, this Thursday I have my first biopsy for monitoring and hopeful prevention of a cancer I have high genetic risk for. On top of a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease, there have been many times in recent months where I’ve wondered why God even put me here just to watch my loved ones die, and then to die myself… so often my life lately seems clouded by the specter of death, but even though I walk through the valley of its shadow, I will fear no evil, for He is with me.

  6. Megan Newell says:

    This is what I really needed to hear. It’s so silly compared to all your stories however, I’m in the middle of my finals and tomorrow are my last two and they are a clash so I have to spend time in isolation and things but, I’m so nervous and worried about them, and I’ve had a big panic attack today about it all cause I’m sick at the moment too ( not bad at all) but this has just really encouraged me.

  7. Katelyn Olivier says:

    Although I am not currently going through a heart wrenching trial right now, I have in the past and I poured out my heart to God. I can joyfully say that God heard all of those prayers and answered each of them. Reading through these comments reminds me of the quote in today’s devotional about having infinite human awareness. God listens to so many heart wrenching cries for mercy, help, and relief every second….and he deeply cares about all of them. What a great and gracious God we serve!

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