English Basic Explanation - Chapter 6
In this chapter David expresses his feelings of fear and anxiety. He feels so frightened and unsettled that he asks God to "heal" him from his anxiety (verse 3) and wonders "until when" he will experience these fears (verse 4). Particularly striking is David's description of his incessant weeping as he lay in bed at night, unable to sleep due to his nagging and relentless fears (verses 7-8). This depiction sharply contrasts with the final verse of chapter 4, where he proclaims his confidence as he lays in bed at night, fully trusting in God's protection.
Why is David so afraid, and why is he suddenly unable to feel secure in the Almighty's protection?
The answer lies in the chapter's second verse, in which David cries, "Hashem, do not chastise me in Your wrath, and do not punish me in Your fury!" David is frightened because of his sins, because he feels unworthy of God's protection. He spends his nights weeping in his bed, unable to sleep, because he fears the consequences of his wrongdoing, he feels he is no longer deserving of the Almighty's assistance. He understands that man's most basic needs, including his very life, must be earned; they can never be taken for granted. If a person fails to meet his responsibilities to God, then he can no longer safely rely on God's support and protection; he becomes vulnerable to the many lurking threats and dangers to which man is constantly exposed.
Appropriately, this chapter has been incorporated into our daily prayer service as the "Tachanun" prayer. Each day, we are reminded of the fear and anxiety we must all sense as a result of our misdeeds. Our spiritual failings must cause us not only a sense of guilt, but also a degree of fear – to the point where King David was unable to sleep comfortably with the knowledge that he had sinned against God. Consistent with the theme of this chapter, the custom is to cover one's face with his arm during the recitation of "Tachanun." As we reflect on our wrongdoing, we "bury our heads" in shame, unable to even speak comfortably as we plead our case before God.
This chapter thus serves as a stark reminder of the repercussions of wrongdoing, that violating God's word must not be taken lightly, and must instead make a person feel uneasy and anxious.