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How David deals with Depression
The following passages are taken from Joyce Meyer’s book ”Managing Your Emotions,” published in 1997.
Why are you cast down, 0 my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God. (Psalm 42:5)
In this verse David makes it clear he is having a problem with depression. I would like for us to examine how he handled it, because it shows there is a cure for depression.
As we dissect this verse, we see three distinct things David does in response to his depressed feelings.
He starts out standing to one side looking at his soul which is feeling depressed. First he puts a question to his own soul asking, “Why are you downcast?” Then he gives an instruction to his soul, “Put your hope in God.” Finally, he declares what he is going to do, “I will praise the Lord.” We might say David has a talk with himself.
We must follow this basic pattern of action as we confront our feelings of depression.
Each of us has been given a free will. We must not allow Satan to take control of that free will, even though that is exactly what he will try to do.
God never tries to take over our free will. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit prompts, leads, guides, and directs us. But it never says He tries to force or pressure or make us do something we don’t want to do.
Yet Satan is constantly trying to force, pressure, and make us do things we don’t want to do.
So in our battle against depression and all other negative emotions, one thing we have on our side is our free will.
Now let’s look at David’s plan for overcoming depression.
1. PRAISE GOD
We are taught repeatedly that one of the cures for depression is to praise God. When we are depressed, the plan of action to take is to get dressed and go to a praise meeting somewhere so that we can worship and magnify the Lord. We are to listen to praise music and teaching over and over and to sing unto the Lord, making merry in our hearts, regardless of how we may feel.
That is more or less what David is saying to his soul, his feelings. He is saying no matter how he feels inside, he is going to lift his voice in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, putting his hope in God. By taking action as mentioned earlier like singing, going out around other people, listening to uplifting things, etc., We are “putting on the garment of praise” which Isaiah 61:3 states has been given to us for “the spirit of heaviness.”
God provides us with what we need to walk into victory, but we must “put it on” or use it. When we “feel” depressed, we do not “feel” like singing. But if we will do it in obedience to God’s Word, we will discover that what God offers us does in fact overcome or defeat what Satan tries to bring against us. In other words, Satan tries to bring us down through sinking, lowered feelings called depression. God lifts us up above depression through singing, hopeful words and inspiring music.
2. REMEMBER THE LORD
O my God, my life is cast down upon me[and I find the burden more than I can bear]; therefore will I [earnestly] remember You from the land of the Jordan [River] and the [Summit of Mount] Hermon, from the little mountain Mizar. (Psalm 42:6)
When you and I are down, what does the devil want us to remember? Every foul, rotten, stinking thing that has ever happened to us and every shameful, detestable, despicable thing we ourselves have ever done. He wants us to sit there, looking at the floor, taking an inventory of our misery.
At the same time the Lord wants us to raise our eyes and hands and head and heart and sing praises to Him in the very midst of our miserable situation.
Do you remember what King Saul did when he was being assaulted by an evil spirit? He called for David to come play on his harp to soothe his troubled spirit. (1 Samuel 16:14-23)
Any time you feel your spirit start to sink down into depression, you need to take action immediately. Don’t wait until you have been in the pit for days before you start to do something to lift your spirit.
When David felt himself sinking, he remembered the Lord and the good things He had done for him in the past. Why did he do that? Because it helped him. It lifted him up out of the miry pit into which he was sliding.
3. SING, PRAY, HOPE, WAIT, AND PRAISE
[Roaring] deep calls to [roaring] deep at the thunder of Your waterspouts; all Your breakers and Your rolling waves have gone over me.
Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, a prayer to the God of my life....
Why are you cast down, 0 my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God. (Psalm 42:7, 8, 11)
When David was down, he said the song of the Lord was with him, a prayer to the God of his life.
Then in verse 11 he went on to say that when his inner self, his soul, moaned over him (as our souls moan over us in self-pity), he put his hope in the Lord, waited expectantly for Him, and praised Him Who was the help of his countenance.
In 1 Samuel 30:6 when David was opposed by his own men who held him responsible for the kidnapping of their families, we read that David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of Stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
What David did to overcome his heavy depression is what you and I are to do to overcome ours when our souls are bitterly grieved and cast down.
4. OVERCOME AND RISE UP!
. . .the enemy has pursued and persecuted my soul, he has crushed my life down to the ground; he has made me to dwell in dark places as those who have been long dead.
Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed and faints within me [wrapped in gloom]; my heart within my bosom grows numb. (Psalm 143:3,4)
What the enemy had done to David is exactly what the devil wants to do to us. He is continually trying to pursue and persecute our soul, crush our life down to the ground, make us to dwell in dark places, overwhelm our spirit causing it to faint within us, and wrap us in gloom so that our heart grows numb.
Satan wants to use our soul, our mind and emotions, to get to our spirit, our heart. He wants to crush the very life out of us so that we become immobile and unable to do anything against his kingdom of darkness.
Although we Christians are subject to the same feelings and emotions, fatigue and stresses that everyone else is, there is supposed to be a difference between us and the world. When people in the world are overwhelmed and give up, we are supposed to overcome and rise up!
How do we do that? By doing what David did in his distress.
5. REMEMBER, MEDITATE, PONDER, SPREAD FORTH, AND LIFT UP
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I ponder the work of Your hands.
I spread forth my hands to You; my soul thirsts after You like a thirsty land [for water]....
Answer me speedily, 0 Lord, for my spirit fails; hide not Your face from me, lest I become like those who go down into the pit....
Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, for on You do I lean and in You do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein l should walk, for I lift up my inner self to You. (Psalm 143:5-8)
What is David doing in this passage? He is crying out to the Lord for help.
When you and I feel ourselves sinking down into the pit of depression, we can do what David did here. We can remember the days of old. We can meditate on all the Lord’s doings on our behalf. We can ponder the mighty works of His hands. We can spread forth our hands in prayer and supplication to Him. We can call upon Him to answer us speedily because we are leaning on and trusting in Him. We can lift up our soul, our inner being, to Him.
All these things constitute an act of faith, and the Lord has promised to always respond to faith. If we are under a minor attack, it may take only a few hours or days. But if we are under a major attack, it may take a much longer time. But however long it may be, we must stand firm and continue to cry out to God until He hears and answers our plea for help.
Sooner or later the Lord will deliver us, just as He delivered David from all his woes.
6. SEEK THE LEVEL GROUND
Deliver me, 0 Lord, from my enemies; I flee to You to hide me. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me into a level country and into the land of uprightness.
Save my life, 0 Lord, for Your name’s sake; in Your righteousness, bring my life out of trouble and free me from distress.
And in Your mercy and loving-kindness, cut off my enemies and destroy all those who afflict my inner self, for I am Your servant. (Psalm 143:9-12)
Here in the final verses of this psalm, David calls upon the Lord to deliver him from his enemies because he has run to Him for help and protection. He asks the Lord to teach him His will and to let His Spirit lead him into a level country.
As we have seen, what David was asking for when he spoke of a level country was balanced emotions.
Secure in who he was and in Whose he was, David was able to place himself into the hands of the Lord and allow Him to bring his life out of trouble, free him from distress, punish his enemies, and cause him to win the victory over all those who were afflicting his soul, because He belonged to the Lord.
You and I are to place ourselves in God’s hands and allow Him to move on our behalf to win our victory over the devil and withstand his attempts to drag us down into the depths of depression and despair.
Blessed be the Lord, my Rock and my keen and firm Strength, Who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight-
My Steadfast Love and my Fortress, my High Tower and my Deliverer, my Shield and He in Whom I trust and take refuge, Who subdues my people under me. (Psalm 144:1,2)
Here in the opening verses of the very next psalm, David continues to praise the Lord Who is his Rock, his Strength, Love, Shield, and the One in Whom he takes refuge and Who subdues his enemies.
But notice that David says that the Lord subdued his enemies “under me,” meaning that David had a part to play in his own deliverance.
In verse 1, he said it was the Lord Who taught his hands to war and his fingers to fight.
This is the clue to the cure for depression. We must do what David did. We must recognize it, submit it to the Lord, call upon Him for His help, then fight that depression in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit.
How do we fight it? By spending time with God. By speaking His Word. By lifting our eyes, head, hands, and heart and offering the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, our Rock and Strength, our Love and Fortress, our high Tower and Deliverer, the One in Whom we trust and take refuge, the One Who subdues Our enemies under us.
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