By Rabbi Avi Baumol
God, do not punish me in anger, do not chastise me in fury. (Psalms 6:2)
God. With this word David begins the prayer of Psalm six. There is no confusion, no poetic or artistic license. The author makes his intentions perfectly clear. God. He turns towards the Almighty and addresses Him directly. Almost the entire psalm is written in second person — You (God)…
Much of our day we spend talking about God, about our relationship with Him, or about how He runs the world. In school, we learn about the Creator of the universe, or the God of the Jews, but rarely do we talk TO Him. Why? Why don’t we talk to God as often as we should?
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Quite simply, we don’t speak to God enough because we are scared. We are scared of not knowing the right things to say, scared that if we speak to God He will pay attention to us and realize that we are not as good as He would like us to be, scared of looking a bit foolish in our modern society. We believe in God, we pray to God, we fear, love, and follow God, but speak to Him…?
Through his Psalms, David was involved in an ongoing conversation with God. He did not wait until the prescribed prayer times to speak to the the Almighty and share what is on his mind.
This Psalm inspires me to call out to God. It moves me to talk to Him.
“God, I am learning the psalms of Your servant David. I am trying to understand his words, his poetry and his message in order to apply them to my life and times. I feel that King David represents a model for me to emulate in learning about myself and my relationship with You.
When I speak of a relationship I find it difficult because it is hard for me to (outside of my prayers) talk to You. Our society has developed a rational, tangible outlook on life. “What you see is what you get.” And while I believe in You, I must confess that to believe that You will speak to me in the world to come, and believing that I can speak to You here and now, are two separate things. Not different, just separate.
I envision the biblical days when Abraham, Joseph, Miriam, Hanna, and the rest of the prophets and personalities, at different times in their day, looked up (as I am looking up now) and spoke, telling You what was on their mind. Nowadays, we pay hundreds of dollars an hour to speak to people, though speaking to You is free. But I imagine back then it was easier and more prevalent. Of course, it didn’t hurt that You spoke back. Wouldn’t it be something if You responded to me?
And yet, I wonder what gave way first. Did You stop responding because we stopped talking to You and started talking about You, or did You stop first?
I picture David running away from King Saul, or from his son Absalom, or from his other enemies who are out to kill him. Alone, in a cave, or even in a village of supporters, he must have been very lonely. And yet, we have his poetry, the records of him calling out to You; sometimes he is confiding in his friend, or learning from his father, or fearing his master, but all the time he is talking to You!”
David teaches us that despite our fears and insecurities, God wants to hear from us! No matter what is going on in our lives, whether we are celebrating or mourning, going through challenging times or commemorating happy occasions, God is always there at our side. Despite what anyone else says, there is nothing foolish about opening up and speaking to Him.