Friday, January 20, 2012

Psalm 13

Psalm 13
A psalm of trust in the midst of depression

"To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?" (verses 1-2)

 David was a real man with real emotions and real struggles, like you and like me. He had his good days and bad days, his seasons of joy and of sorrow, like all of us. While David penned some of the most powerful hymns of praise and exaltation, he also understood what it was to feel cast down, discouraged, and sometimes, even depressed. 
In fact, David underwent over a decade struggling with depression, as evidenced in the Psalms themselves. Cast out from the kingdom he was anointed by God to rule, a stranger to his own family and friends, and separated from his wife, David battled fiercely against the inevitable despond that would overwhelm him at times. Hunted like a wanted man, and forced to live like an outlaw in enemy territory, David's faith was severely tried. Even after becoming king, he would almost lose his kingdom to his son who sought to overthrow him. 
Yes, David was a man well acquainted with sorrow, his music a window into his soul. Yet, for all he went through, his recorded words wondrously provide us with the comfort of fellowship in the midst of our own sufferings, even thousands of years later. We feel that David understands our very heart. 

This psalm, it would seem, was written in one of the many troubled periods of David's life, probably after he was king, as it was written to the Chief Musician. This inspired song leaves us with both a sense of companionship and hope in those times that we, like David, feel alone in our agony of soul. Here, David feels forgotten by even God Himself, so isolated in his sorrow is he. He feels forsaken, abandoned, and desperately lonely. He lives within his own mind, turning his griefs over and over in his thoughts, becoming increasingly despondent each passing day. 
The situation looks hopeless. His enemies seem to have won. He feels like his life may just be over. David cries out, "How long...?" again and again. He does not know how much longer he can go on like this.

"Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, 'I have prevailed against him'; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved." (verses 3-4)

Turning to his only source of hope, David prays to the LORD, his God. "Consider me. Listen to me," he cries. In his despair, David knows he is past man's help. No doctor, psychologist, or even good friend can help him now. His only hope is in God, if only God would hear him. 
David mentions death. There is no indication that he is suffering from an illness, but so intense is his trial of soul that he fears he may just sink down deeper and deeper until he sinks into the grave, his body physically aching with loneliness and grief.  Should he indeed die of despair, he further laments that such would give pleasure to those who have thus greatly troubled his soul. What a serious burden David must have been carrying! Yet, perhaps you, too, have born such a burden. 

In seasons of great emotional turmoil, we can do just as David did, and take our troubles to the LORD. It may not seem as though He is listening, and His presence may feel far away, but that is only the clouded perception of a soul blinded by sorrow and a heart overcome with grief. Our emotions can project into our reasonings a distorted image of reality, and it is at such times that we must lean heavily upon what we know to be true from the Word of God. 
The truth is that God has promised that He will never leave nor forsake you. He hears your every prayer and keeps your every tear. He is right beside you in your struggle, holding you in His arms of love, and will never let you go. The situation is not hopeless, for you have a future and a hope in Him. He has promised. And he will keep His promises. That is the truth.

"But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me." (verses 5-6)

David all at once appears to remember the truth. "God is merciful. God will save me. God has always been faithful to me and He will deliver me again," he in essence declares. David's depression of soul was really a battle for faith. When all appears to be lost, will I yet trust in God? When everything falls apart, will I still have faith? When I am all alone and the world is against me, will I continue to believe? 

David was depressed, but he did not despair. The difference between the two is in one word: hope. David hoped in the Lord. Hope is an act of faith, not an expectation of sight. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." I do not need to see how it will all work out for the good in order to have hope that God will work it for my good. 
Faith, as it says in Hebrews 11:1, "is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." David, in his darkest hours, trusted in God. When all hope seemed to be gone and when God Himself seemed distant, he yet still trusted in Him. How? David recalled God's past faithfulness, and remembered His Word, His promises. 
God had never failed him, not even once. His Word had never failed him, and never would. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His mercies never fail. His compassions cease not. He is the God of all comfort, and He is there with you in your dark hour, my friend. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. 
Remember His mercy. Remember His salvation! Remember His great grace and His bountiful goodness to you in the past. Remember and trust Him. He will deliver you out of your depression. 
Hold fast to Him in hope, for He will see you through even this. "I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

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