What do you do when life overwhelms your soul? When your spirit fails? When your heart faints? Psalm 143 describes David’s thoughts at just such a time.
David was a man who felt things deeply, but he also reasoned through his emotions. This is one reason why we all find such comfort in the Psalms he wrote. He was able to express his fears, his doubts, and his questions about what God was doing (or allowing), but he was also able to find solid truth and hope in the character of God to sustain him.
In verses 3-4, David describes what we might diagnose as depression.
For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart is appalled within me.
David may have been talking about a physical enemy; he had many. We also have a spiritual enemy who desires to crush our life and cause us to dwell in dark places. The circumstances of our world today can easily cause us to lose hope and wonder what is going on, as we see the effects of Satan’s influence in our culture. If we dwell too long on it, we too will be depressed!
What is David’s answer?
First, he recognizes that God is the one his soul longs for, and the only one who can do anything about his circumstances or fill his emotional and spiritual needs. His soul longs for God, as a dry, parched land longs for water (143:6).
Don’t be deceived. Even if every physical circumstance in your life suddenly became exactly as you think it should be, it would not satisfy you. David was a king; he had at his disposal every resource, every power, every authority to make happen whatever he wanted. Yet he knew all of that was not was his soul desired.
How does he respond? I see four specific, practical things we can learn from the rest of David’s words in this psalm.
- He remembers what God has done in the past.
- He meditates on what He knows about God.
- He seeks wisdom from God for his daily walk and purposes to obey.
- He trusts God to deal with what has caused him to be overwhelmed.
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands. I stretch out my hands to You; my soul longs for You, as a parched land (143:5-6).
Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (143:8,10).
And in Your lovingkindness, cut off my enemies and destroy all those who afflict my soul, for I am Your servant (143:12).
Are you depressed and overwhelmed? Remember what God has already done in your life to bring you this far. Meditate on His character – He is faithful, righteous, and merciful. Seek wisdom from God’s Word daily, and purpose in your heart to live as His obedient servant. And trust Him to deal with the circumstances of your world, in His time, for His glory and your good.