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LORD, Chasten Not in Anger

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Psalm 6 is the first of seven psalms designated in early Christian liturgical use as penitential psalms (the others are 32, 38, 51,102, 130, and 143). A severe illness subjects the psalmist to the un­masked glee of enemies who think to gain by his death. The psalmist prays urgently for God to lift this chastisement (st. 1), appealing for deliverance from death (st. 2), and expressing deep emotional pain inflicted by the glee of his enemies (st. 3). Then follows a confession of joyful assurance that God hears and will foil the enemies' expectations (st. 4).
 
Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Difficult times occur in the lives and communities of God’s people because this is a fallen world. The confessions demonstrate this perspective:
  • Belgic Confession, Article 15 teaches that “…by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race…a corruption of the whole human nature...” As a result, God’s people are “guilty and subject to physical and spiritual death, having become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all [our] ways” (Article 14). In addition, “The devils and evil spirits are so corrupt that they are enemies of God and of everything good. They lie in wait for the church and every member of it like thieves, with all their power, to destroy and spoil everything by their deceptions” (Article 12).
  • Our World Belongs to God continues to affirm that “God has not abandoned the work of his hands,” nevertheless “our world, fallen into sin, has lost its first goodness...” (paragraph 4). And now “all spheres of life—family and friendship, work and worship school and state, play and art—bear the wounds of our rebellion” (paragraph 16).
Yet, in a fallen world, God’s providential care is the source of great assurance, comfort and strength. Through these thoughts, our trust in God is inspired.
  • Belgic Confession, Article 13 is a reminder that God’s providence reassures us that God leads and governs all in this world “according to his holy will…nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.” Further, this Confession identifies that this “gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father, who watches over us with fatherly care...in this thought we rest.”
  • Belgic Confession, Article 13, is a reminder that much is beyond human understanding and so “we do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what God does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend.”
  • In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26 we testify that we “trust God so much that [we] do not doubt that he will provide whatever [we] need for body and soul and will turn to [our] good whatever adversity he sends upon [us] in this sad world.”
  • In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10, Question and Answer 28, we are assured that through our trust in the providence of God we can have “good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing in creation will separate us from his love.”
  • When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we ask not to be brought into the time of trial but rescued from evil. In doing so we ask that the Lord will “uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle...” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Question and Answer 127)
Belgic Confession, Article 26 speaks about the intercession of Christ as the ascended Lord. “We have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” We, therefore, do not offer our prayers as though saints could be our intercessor, nor do we offer them on the “basis of our own dignity but only on the basis of the excellence and dignity of Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is ours by faith.” Because Jesus Christ is our sympathetic High Priest, we approach the throne “in full assurance of faith.”
 
No greater assurance can be found than that expressed in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 1: “I am not my own by I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”
 

In all difficult times, we eagerly await the final day when God “will set all things right, judge evil, and condemn the wicked” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 57).

Additional Prayers

Optional concluding prayer
 
Compassionate healer,
you know the depths of human grief,
the intensity of human pain.
We boldly pray
for healing,
for comfort,
for strength,
and for the peace that surpasses understanding.
We place our hope in you. Amen.

Compassionate Healer,
you know the depths of human grief and the intensity of human pain.
Jesus suffered in agony on the cross so that we could know the extent of your love.
You hear our prayer. Support us as we wait for your healing.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tune Information

Name
GENEVAN 6
Key
e minor or modal
Meter
7.7.6.7.7.6

Recordings

Hymn Story/Background

Psalm 6 is the first of seven psalms designated in early Christian liturgical use as penitential psalms (the others are Psalms 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143). A severe illness subjects the psalmist to the unmasked glee of enemies who think to gain by his death. The psalmist prays urgently for God to lift this chastisement (st. 1), appealing for deliverance from death (st. 2), and expressing deep emotional pain inflicted by the glee of his enemies (st. 3). Then follows a confession of joyful assurance that God hears and will foil the enemies' expectations (st. 4).
 
GENEVAN 6 was composed or adapted to be sung to Clement Marot's versification of Psalm 6 in the 1542 edition of the Genevan Psalter. This tune is one of the few in the Genevan Psalter to include a melisma, a syllable set to more than one note. Howard Slenk harmonized the tune in 1985 for the Psalter Hymnal 1987.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Clarence P. Walhout (b. Muskegon, Michigan, 1934) studied at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; he taught many yaers at his alma mater, Calvin College, and was a member of the Poet’s Workshop, a group of several writers who prepared psalm versifications for the 1987 Psalter Hymnal; he was also editor of the journal Christianity and Literature and co-author of The Responsibility of Hermeneutics (1985).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

The Genevan Psalter is the major gift of the Reformed branch of the Reformation to the song of the church. John Calvin (1509-1564) first experienced congregational singing of the psalms in Strasbourg when serving as a pastor of French exiles there, and when returning to Geneva in 1541 he finally persuaded the city council to permit congregational singing, which they had banned entirely under the influence of Ulrich Zwingli. Just two months after returning to Geneva, Calvin wrote in his Ecclesiastical Ordinances: "It will be good to introduce ecclesiastical songs, the better to incite the people to pray to and praise God. For a beginning the little children are to be taught; then with time all the church will be able to follow." Calvin set about overseeing the development of several metrical psalms with melodies, rather than the hymns, or chorales, of the Lutheran tradition, and also in contrast to the published psalters with texts only that followed in England and Scotland. The emerging Genevan Psalter was published in instalments until completed in 1562, including the 150 psalms, the Ten Commandments and the Song of Simeon. He employed the best French poets and composers to prepare metrical settings rather than continuing to chant the psalms, since poetry in meter was the popular form of the day—and also the choice for the Lutheran chorale.
The publication event was the largest in publishing history until then; twenty-four printers in Geneva alone, plus presses in Paris, Lyons, and elsewhere produced more than 27,000 copies in the first two years; more than 100,000 copies were available in over thirty editions. The Genevan Psalter was extremely popular, and almost immediately translated into Dutch, Hungarian, and German. Due to the intense persecution of the French Huguenots in the 16th century, the center of activity of the Reformed branch of the Reformation moved away from France and especially to the Netherlands, and from there to Indonesia, South Africa, and North America. The most recent translation (2004) of the entire psalter is into Japanese. The most recent English translation of the entire Genevan Psalter is available with melodies from the Canadian Reformed Book of Praise, available at http://www.canrc.org/?page=23 .
 
Calvin’s goal was to provide a distinct tune for every psalm, so that each psalm would have its own identity. Every tune would then bring to mind a particular psalm. The psalter didn’t quite reach this goal: it contains 125 different tunes. Today, only a few of those Genevan tunes are in wide use, among them the psalm tune most widely known around the world, often identified as OLD HUNDRETH, or simply, "The Doxology."
— Emily Brink

Howard Slenk (b. 1931) received his undergraduate education from Calvin College and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in Columbus; his dissertation was entitled The Huguenot Psalter in the Low Countries. He taught at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois, and at Calvin College from 1967 until retiring in 1995. From 1970 to 1993 Slenk served as organist and director of music at Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. His published works include A Well-Appointed Church Music (1960) and various articles on Genevan psalmody.
— Bert Polman
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