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Psalm 6:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you thanks?
For in death. In the state of the dead; in the grave.
There is no remembrance of you. They who are dead do not remember thee or think of thee. The ground of this appeal is, that it was regarded by the psalmist as a desirable thing to remember God and to praise him and that this could not be done by one who was dead. He prayed, therefore, that God would spare his life and restore him to health, that he might praise him in the land of the living. A sentiment similar to this occurs in Ps. 30:9, “What profit is there in my blood when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?” So also Ps. 88:11, “Shall thy loving-kindness be declared in the grave? or your faithfulness in destruction?” So also in Isaiah 38:18, in the language of Hezekiah, “The grave cannot praise thee; death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.” See Notes on that passage. A similar sentiment also is found in Job 10:21, 22. See that passage. In regard to the meaning of this it may be remarked (a) that it is to be admitted that there was among the ancient saints much less light on the subject of the future state than there is with us, and that they often, in giving utterance to their feelings, seemed to speak as if all were dark beyond the grave. (b) But, though they thus spoke in their sorrow and in their despondency, they also did, on other occasions, express their belief in a future state and their expectation of happiness in a coming world (comp., for example, Ps. 16:10, 11; 17:15.) (c) Does not their language in times of despondency and sickness express the feelings which we often have now, even with all the light which we possess, and all the hopes which we cherish? Are there not times in the lives of the pious, even though they have a strong prevailing hope of heaven, when the thoughts are fixed on the grave as a dark, gloomy, repulsive prison and so fixed on it as to lose sight of the world beyond? And in such moments does not life seem as precious to us, and as desirable, as it did to David, to Hezekiah, or to Job?
In sheol. Heb., בִּשְׁאוֹל, in Sheol. Sheol: (שְׁאֹל sheol) Sheol occurs sixty-six times in the UASV. The Greek Septuagint renders Sheol as Hades. It is the grave. It has the underlying meaning of a place of the dead, where they are conscious of nothing, awaiting a resurrection, for both the righteous and the unrighteous. (Gen. 37:35; Psa. 16:10; Ac 2:31; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15) It corresponds to “Hades” in the NT. It does not involve torment and punishment. Its meaning here does not differ materially from the word grave.
Who will give you thanks? Who shall praise thee? The idea is that none would then praise God. It was the land of silence. See Isa. 38:18, 19. This language implies that David desired to praise God, but that he could not hope to do it in the grave.
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews