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Mizmor 006 - A Plea for Healing

(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ בִּנְגִינוֹת עַל הַשְּׁמִינִית מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: (ב) ה' אַל בְּאַפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי וְאַל בַּחֲמָתְךָ תְיַסְּרֵנִי:
(1) For the musician, with musical accompaniment on the sheminis instrument, a mizmor by David. (2) Hashem, don’t rebuke me in Your anger. Don’t chastise me in Your rage.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 11]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 006 - A Plea for Healing
The mizmor is a supplication that David composed during a serious illness which he suffered after the incident with Bas Sheva. His life during this difficult period was further embittered by the many enemies who were eager to take advantage of his weakness. Although this tefillah reflects David’s specific experience, he incorporated it into the sefer Tehillim to serve as an inspiration for every Jew who is suffering. Hashem will surely listen to a person’s tefillos if he prays with sincerity and a broken heart.
Exploring the Mizmor
In the first part of the mizmor, David pleads with Hashem to ease his suffering and cure his illness. In the second part he describes how much he has been hurt by the hatred of his enemies. But despite his suffering he gradually regains his confidence and anticipates the bitter disappointment of the enemies who have been waiting for him to die.
PART 1. HEALING. David pleads for relief from his suffering. The thought that Hashem is angry with him is worse than the physical pain, for it affects his very soul. He pleads for the kindness of Hashem so that he can return to a productive life of serving Him.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ בִּנְגִינוֹת עַל הַשְּׁמִינִית מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: (ב) ה' אַל בְּאַפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי וְאַל בַּחֲמָתְךָ תְיַסְּרֵנִי: (ג) חָנֵּנִי ה' כִּי אֻמְלַל אָנִי רְפָאֵנִי ה' כִּי נִבְהֲלוּ עֲצָמָי: (ד) וְנַפְשִׁי נִבְהֲלָה מְאֹד וְאַתָּה ה' עַד מָתָי: (ה) שׁוּבָה ה' חַלְּצָה נַפְשִׁי הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי לְמַעַן חַסְדֶּךָ: (ו) כִּי אֵין בַּמָּוֶת זִכְרֶךָ בִּשְׁאוֹל מִי יוֹדֶה לָּךְ: (ז) יָגַעְתִּי בְּאַנְחָתִי אַשְׂחֶה בְכָל לַיְלָה מִטָּתִי בְּדִמְעָתִי עַרְשִׂי אַמְסֶה:
(1) For the musician, with musical accompaniment on the sheminis instrument, a mizmor by David. (2) Hashem, don’t rebuke me in Your anger. Don’t chastise me in Your rage. (3) Grant me Your mercy, Hashem, for I have been cut down. (4) Heal me, Hashem, for my bones shake with terror. My soul is utterly terrified, and You Hashem — How long? (5) Turn back, Hashem, release my soul. Save me as befits Your kindness ... (6) for there is no mention of You in death. In the grave who will thank You? (7) I am exhausted from groaning; every night my bed is drenched; with my tears I soil the place where I have lain.
PART 2. THE PAIN OF HATRED. David describes the pain of being hated by those who resent his accession to the throne. But as the mizmor progresses he gains confidence in his eventual recovery. Hashem will surely heal him and his tormentors will be embarrassed at having been so cruel to him. David concludes with the earnest hope that his emenies make peace with him so that he can forgive them.
(ח) עָשְׁשָׁה מִכַּעַס עֵינִי עָתְקָה בְּכָל צוֹרְרָי: (ט) סוּרוּ מִמֶּנִּי כָּל פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן כִּי שָׁמַע ה' קוֹל בִּכְיִי: (י) שָׁמַע ה' תְּחִנָּתִי ה' תְּפִלָּתִי יִקָּח: (יא) יֵבֹשׁוּ וְיִבָּהֲלוּ מְאֹד כָּל אֹיְבָי יָשֻׁבוּ יֵבֹשׁוּ רָגַע:
(8) My eye is dimmed from anger, aged by all my tormentors. (9) Depart from me all wrongdoers, for Hashem has heard the sound of my weeping. (10) Hashem has heard my plea; Hashem will accept my prayer. (11) They will be ashamed and will be utterly astounded. When all my enemies return, they will be ashamed for a while.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. HEALING.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ בִּנְגִינוֹת עַל הַשְּׁמִינִית 
מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד:
For the musician — לַמְנַצֵּחַ . This is a mizmor to be performed with musical accompaniment — בִּנְגִינוֹת  on the eight-stringed sheminis instrument — עַל הַשְּׁמִינִית . It is a mizmor composed by David — מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד .
(ב) ה' אַל בְּאַפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי
Hashem, do not rebuke me in Your visible anger — ה' אַל בְּאַפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי . I realize that Your intent is to discipline me so that I will be a better person but I beg You to do it calmly and with love. I want to serve You and do Your will, and I know Your rebuke helps me so I humbly accept it.
וְאַל בַּחֲמָתְךָ תְיַסְּרֵנִי:
But please do not chastise me in Your burning rage — וְאַל בַּחֲמָתְךָ תְיַסְּרֵנִי , as though You are so angry at my behavior that You want to hurt me. Hashem, I ask that You discipline me only to the extent necessary to bring me to teshuvah. Even if I have failed in the past, I am confident that I will quickly return to the right way.
(ג) חָנֵּנִי ה', כִּי אֻמְלַל אָנִי
Grant me Your mercy, Hashem — חָנֵּנִי ה' , even if my zechusim (merits) are used up, for I have been totally cut down — כִּי אֻמְלַל אָנִי . My troubles have reached a peak and I don’t have the strength to endure anymore.
רְפָאֵנִי ה', כִּי נִבְהֲלוּ עֲצָמָי:
Heal me, Hashem, — רְפָאֵנִי ה'  and restore my strength so that I can return to Your avodah (service) for my very bones shake with terror — כִּי נִבְהֲלוּ עֲצָמָי – and I fear that my very existence is at risk.
(ד) וְנַפְשִׁי נִבְהֲלָה מְאֹד
My soul too, is utterly terrified — וְנַפְשִׁי נִבְהֲלָה מְאֹד  out of fear that I must have sinned greatly to deserve such suffering, and if so, I am afraid that I might die from this illness.
וְאַתָּה ה', עַד מָתָי:
And You, Hashem, how long — וְאַתָּה ה', עַד מָתָי  will You restrain Your quality of mercy and continue to watch me suffer? After all, is not the purpose of punishment to promote obedience? Surely I have already been disciplined and the time has come for me to be healed.
(ה) שׁוּבָה ה' חַלְּצָה נַפְשִׁי
Therefore Hashem, turn back from Your anger  שׁוּבָה ה' Release my soul from this illness — חַלְּצָה נַפְשִׁי . Even a small lifting of my pain will let my spirit rise because then I will know that I am not disgusting to You. Then I will be able to return to You and serve You with joy out of the depths of my heart.
הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי לְמַעַן חַסְדֶּךָ:
Save me as befits Your kindness — הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי לְמַעַן חַסְדֶּךָ , even if I have not yet suffered to the full extent of my sinsIf You save me, Your quality of chesed will be revealed to all ...
 
(ו) כִּי אֵין בַּמָּוֶת זִכְרֶךָ
... for there is no mention of You in death — כִּי אֵין בַּמָּוֶת זִכְרֶךָ . If I die, I will be unable to serve You or learn Your Torah.
בִּשְׁאוֹל מִי יוֹדֶה לָּךְ:
In the grave who will thank You — בִּשְׁאוֹל מִי יוֹדֶה לָּךְ ? The dead cannot sense Your goodness and cannot thank You for it. Therefore spare my life so that the purpose of Creation can be fulfilled through me, so that my flesh and blood can be spiritually elevated.
After a person’s soul has departed, his body is like an inert stone, which goes down into the grave. But his soul rises and continues to thank Hashem and praise Him without interruption. However, the righteous person desires to do the will of Hashem while he is still alive, as this is the purpose of Creation. Furthermore, by fulfilling the will of Hashem in this world, his soul will have a greater reward in the World to Come.
(ז) יָגַעְתִּי בְּאַנְחָתִי
אַשְׂחֶה בְכָל לַיְלָה מִטָּתִי 
בְּדִמְעָתִי עַרְשִׂי אַמְסֶה:
I want to serve You while I am alive, but my troubles are making it difficult for me because I am exhausted from groaning and weeping — יָגַעְתִּי בְּאַנְחָתִי . My suffering gets worse after dark and every night my bed is drenched from my weeping  אַשְׂחֶה בְכָל לַיְלָה מִטָּתִי . With my tears I even soil the place where I have lain  בְּדִמְעָתִי עַרְשִׂי אַמְסֶה .
PART 2. THE PAIN OF HATRED.
(ח) עָשְׁשָׁה מִכַּעַס עֵינִי
עָתְקָה בְּכָל צוֹרְרָי:
My eye is dimmed from the pain of seeing the anger — עָשְׁשָׁה מִכַּעַס עֵינִי  of those who hate me. It is aged by the sight of all my tormentors — עָתְקָה בְּכָל צוֹרְרָי .
(ט) סוּרוּ מִמֶּנִּי כָּל פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן 
כִּי שָׁמַע ה' קוֹל בִּכְיִי:
“Depart from me, all you wrongdoers — סוּרוּ מִמֶּנִּי כָּל פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן . You will not succeed against me for Hashem has heard — כִּי שָׁמַע ה'  the sound of my weeping — קוֹל בִּכְיִי . He has accepted my prayers.”
(י) שָׁמַע ה' תְּחִנָּתִי
ה' תְּפִלָּתִי יִקָּח:
“Hashem has heard my plea — שָׁמַע ה' תְּחִנָּתִי ; it was not the doctors who healed me and it was not my zechusim, but the mercy of Hashem. Hashem responded to the intensity of my supplication and Hashem will accept my prayer — ה' תְּפִלָּתִי יִקָּח  in the future.”
(יא) יֵבֹשׁוּ וְיִבָּהֲלוּ מְאֹד
כָּל אֹיְבָי יָשֻׁבוּ יֵבֹשׁוּ רָגַע:
Many were hoping for my death. When I recover, they will be ashamed — יֵבֹשׁוּ on seeing my good fortune and will be utterly astounded  וְיִבָּהֲלוּ מְאֹד . When all my enemies return — כָּל אֹיְבָי יָשֻׁבוּ  to make peace with me, they will be ashamed for a while — יֵבֹשׁוּ רָגַע  but will have to swallow their pride. The shame won’t last because I will ultimately forgive them for what they did to me.
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor, as well as some of the thoughts you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah asking for your needs, or expressing your gratitude and devotion to Hashem.
Lessons for Life - Your Behavior.
[6:2] ANGER. – ה' אַל בְּאַפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי וְאַל בַּחֲמָתְךָ תְיַסְּרֵנִי – “Hashem, do not rebuke me in Your anger. Do not chastise me in Your rage.” When you admonish a child or student to behave properly in the future you should speak compassionately, and not with open anger. When you rebuke the child or student for past behavior, it is appropriate to show visible anger, but there should never be an element of suppressed bitter anger or hatred.
Lessons for Life - Your Attitude.
[6:2] INTROSPECTION. – ה' אַל בְּאַפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי – “Hashem, don’t rebuke me in Your anger.” If you are suffering illness or pain, search your heart and ask yourself what sin you might have committed to warrant the anger of Hashem.
[6:9] OPTIMISM. – שָׁמַע ה' קוֹל בִּכְיִי – “Hashem has heard the sound of my weeping.” After praying for recovery, be optimistic that Hashem has heard you and your recovery will surely take place in the near future.
[6:11] FORGIVENESS. – כָּל אֹיְבָי יָשֻׁבוּ יֵבֹשׁוּ רָגַע – “When all my enemies return, they will be ashamed for a while.” Even though you have been wronged, once your adversaries see the error of their ways, be ready to forgive them. Let their shame be only “for a while”.
Tefillos for Life - Your Relationship with Hashem.
[6:3] KINDNESS. – חָנֵּנִי ה' – “Grant me Your mercy, Hashem.” When you ask Hashem for something, don’t frame your request as something you deserve or that He owes you. Rather ask Him to do it as an act of pure kindness. See also Mizmor 004, Tefillos for Life - Your Relationship with Hashem.
Tefillos for Life - Your Teshuvah.
[6:3] ENOUGH. – חָנֵּנִי ה' כִּי אֻמְלַל אָנִי – “Grant me Your mercy, Hashem, for I have been cut down.” Plead with Hashem to call an end to your suffering for its purpose has been served. You have learned a painful lesson and have resolved to change your ways.
Tefillos for Life - Your Refuah.
[6:3] HEALING. – רְפָאֵנִי ה' – “Heal me, Hashem.” This tefillah is especially appropriate for anyone who needs a refuah (recovery) from illness. A person can feel this need for himself, for loved ones, or for the community as a whole.
[6:4] ILLNESS. – וְנַפְשִׁי נִבְהֲלָה מְאֹד – “My soul is utterly terrified.” If you are suffering illness or pain, ask Hashem to soften the blow so that your life is not placed in jeopardy.
[6:6] LIFE. – כִּי אֵין בַּמָּוֶת זִכְרֶךָ בִּשְׁאוֹל מִי יוֹדֶה לָּךְ – “For there is no mention of You in death. In the grave who will thank You?” Ask Hashem to grant you life for you will be unable to do mitzvos after death.
[6:7] PAIN. – יָגַעְתִּי בְּאַנְחָתִי – “I am exhausted from groaning.” Ask Hashem to ease your pain for then your spirits will rise and you will be better able to serve Him.
Sources
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the pesukim of this mizmor are listed below.
א - רש"י, רד"ק, מצודות, מלבי"ם
ב - רד"ק, מלבי"ם, נר לרגלי
ג - רד"ק, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ד - רש"י, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ה - רש"י, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ו - רד"ק, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ז - רש"י, רד"ק, מצודות
ח - מצודות
ט - רד"ק, מצודות
י - אבן עזרא, רד"ק, מצודות
יא - רד"ק