The Dancing Puritan

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Depression and Psalm 42

Godly people struggle with depression.  In Psalm 42 King David talks to himself: "Why are you cast down, O my soul?" When you see a person talking to himself your first reaction is probably, "That person has a problem." David is that guy. He talks to himself and he has a real problem, he is depressed.

How do we know that David is depressed? He tells us, "My tears have been my food day and night," (3a). For a strong and courageous king to say such a thing raises a red flag about his mental health. He is not even eating right. His diet consists of the tears that fall from his eyes, run down his face, land on his lips, and end up in his mouth.

David indicates his depression when he cries, "My soul is cast down in turmoil" (5). He is overwhelmed, "all your breakers and your waves have gone over me" (7).

What does David want in the midst of his depression? The answer may surprise you.  David wants God (1-2) and he wants congregational worship (4, 5,13). Certainly David wants to feel better, stop crying, find relief for his troubled soul, and to have the pressure lifted. However, his first desire is for God. Just like a thirsty deer wants water, David wants God.

The godly person who is depressed is different from the ungodly person, at this point. Some people just want relief from their sadness, and better circumstances, but they do not want God. In other words, they want relief on their own terms. The godly person, however, wants God.

Why does a godly person want God when he is depressed?

1. God is the living God (2).
2. God is his salvation (6,11).
3. God is his life (8). 
4. God is his rock (9).
5. God is his God (10,11).

The godly person looks to God because God is alive, God is the Savior, God is life, God is strong, and God is God. God is real when everything else seems surreal.

Where do you look and what do you reach for when you are depressed?

1. You should pant for, long for, and thirst for God (1-2). Make God your priority!
2. You should long to worship God with fellow believers at church (4).
3. You should pour out your soul in prayer to God (4,8,9).
4. You should remember who God is, through reading the Bible, and keep on trusting him (5,11).
5. You should talk to yourself (5,11).  Tell yourself to, "Hope in God!"

When you face depression, gauge your responses by David's responses. Do you long for God? Do you want to go to church and worship God with his people? Do you pour out your soul to God in prayer? Do you believe in God? Do you talk to yourself?

Depression is not to be taken lightly. However, the good news for Christians is that you have hope.  God is alive, he is your rock, and he is your salvation. As the hymn-writer put it, "God is not dead, nor does he sleep."

If you are not sure that you are a Christian, then there is also hope for you. You need to take an honest look at yourself. Gauge your responses by David's responses in Psalm 42. If you seldom or never respond to your depression as David did, then perhaps you are not a Christian. What should you do? Run to Jesus. He lived without sinning, died for sinners, was raised again from the dead, and is alive and reigning today. He receives humble sinners who come to him for salvation. He is the Shepherd who will lead you to green pastures and still waters (Psalm 23).