Does the bible have anything to say about sadness and depression or is it silent to this issue? In our study of psalm 42, we will encounter a severely depressed person. We will also discuss the cause of his depression and get some battle tested encouragements for winning the fight. So grab your bibles and strap up. Let’s win this fight against sadness and depression.
Fighting The Battle Against Sadness and Depression
Pants or longs for the water brook-Why is the dear longing for the water brook? Because the deer needs water to survive. When the dear is panting after water, it could be because he is in danger, somebody is chasing him or the deer could be just having fun running around with his deer friends. But based on the information that is provided in this psalm, the deer is likely running because he is in trouble and needs water to keeping going.
Why else does the deer pant for the water brook?
Because he has tasted water before and that water has quenched his thirst, and now he is away from the water source and greatly longs for it. So the psalmist is saying, that is me, that is my soul right now, my soul is thirsting for God. Or its kind of like you are really hungry and you can began to taste the dinner that your wife or husband is cooking for you and you walk in the house and you smell the food and you are just like I want it, I want it. You want it because it is your favorite meal, and you love how your husband or wife makes it, you have tasted it before and now you are without it, so you really want it.
See the psalmist has already done psalms 34:8-
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
The psalmist has already tasted God’s goodness and now he wants more of it.
Not only is he thirsting for God, but he wants to know when is going to appear before God? I agree with some of the commentators on this verse that the psalmist is not speaking from an end times, eschatological stand point of standing before the throne of God in heaven. But he is talking about being in God’s presence here on earth.
And some of you may say but God is not like that water brook, God is everywhere you can never not be in the presence of God. You can always go to God and drink from the fountain and be in his presence through prayer. Shouldn’t this guy just pray and God will speak to him by the Holy Spirit and bring him into his presence?
No. During this period, under the Old Covenant, being in God’s presence was largely experienced at the temple in Jerusalem. God allowed His presence to dwell in the Holy of Holies, in the inner sanctuary of the temple.
This can also been seen in Ezekiel 10-but in this case, the presence of God is leaving the temple.
John 4:20-23-Jesus shows that God’s presence will no longer be at a place.
So the temple was the place where the Old Covenant people of God encountered God. This is why you have psalms like psalms 84:1-4
And not only that, only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies and be in the actual presence of God and that was once a year. And when he went into the Holy of Holies he had to carry blood for his own sins and the sins of the people.
So understand this grace that you have under the new covenant, how you can go into the presence of God in prayer boldly because of the righteousness and blood of Jesus Christ and on that day when you stand before God, you can stand there not with a guilty fear of condemnation but with a sort boldness because Jesus Christ has taken care of your sin debt problem and you are now a friend of God, no longer an enemy due to sin. That is a hope that we have through Christ.
But this is a foreign thought to the psalmist, so he is longing for God, he is thirsting for Him and he want to be where He is.
And if we are being honest, we get this way from time to time where we don’t feel the presence of God like we had in the past. We go to church sometimes, read our bible but it seems like we are not getting closer to God, God feels so distant. Some call this Spiritual depression, Martin Lloyd Jones, a famous pastor wrote a whole an entire book on Spiritual Depression based on this psalm.
In verse 3. the psalmist is thirsting after God, seeking after God to the point of tears—– where his tears have become his food. That is a lot of crying. And it is not just day time crying but it is night time crying as well, this is deep mourning.
Go to verse 9- The Psalmist again feels like God has forgot him—So he ask God why does he go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy or while the enemy oppresses him.
Now this is very important that you understand this. What type of oppression is the enemy doing? Words
We are our own Enemy
And here is the other truth of this scripture and that is that the enemy that oppresses is not always something outside of us. Yes there are people that are verbally abusive and oppressive but our main enemy often times is ourselves. We lead ourselves into depression by our own speech.
I want to give you a quote from -Martin Lloyd Jones book on Spiritual depression.
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you.
Life and death is in the power of the tongue—-the words that you say can bring life or death, you can build up with your words or you can destroy with your words.
James 3:6-And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
So in the fight against depression, sadness- Ask yourself who is the one taking the negative talk.
If it is another person(s), then you may have to distance yourself from those people for a time.
If it is self talk that is adding to your depression, then we have to speak life to ourselves.
Verse 4-After the enemy reviles him, he begins to think about the time when his thirst for the Lord was satisfied, when he was leading a bunch of other believers to the temple.
It is said that during the Jewish festivals, as pilgrims would make their ascension to Jerusalem, they would sing these songs call songs of accent or songs of degrees.
Psalms 120-134 are all song of accent. And the reason they call them songs of accent is because Jerusalem is set upon a hill and so you have to go up to reach it. Also, the priest, when they would march up the steps to the temple, they would praise and worship songs as they go up. And so the psalmist here said that he was one of the leaders, he led the people to the house of God.
So as he is going back into his mind thinking about the times when his thirst was satisfied, he pours out his soul in grief. He just wants to be back to the place and time where he is leading the people of God, he want to be back in the presence of the Lord. God I just want to be there, so he is pouring out his soul. Don’t hold it in, you don’t have to be reserve, it is okay to cry out. Lord I need you, let me feel your presence! Speak to me!
This verse makes me think about Hannah in the book of first Samuel 1:15- Hannah is barren, she wants a baby but the Lord has closed her womb. The scriptures also said that her rival constantly provoked her to irritation.
I hope that you are seeing the connection here between the psalmist in 42 and Hannah. The psalmist is reviled by his enemy with words to the point that it feels like his bones have been shattered. And Hannah, her rival is using words to provoke her to irritation.
So Hannah runs to the temple and begins to pray to the Lord to where the priest thinks that she is drunk because she is not praying the ordinary way that people prayed at that time.
And when the priest confronts her about it, she said that my soul is oppressed and that she has “been pouring out her soul to the Lord” 1 Samuel 1:15
Battle Tip numbers#1- In the fight against sadness don’t act like you have everything together, pour out your soul to the Lord.
Brothers and Sisters, don’t be fake, don’t act like everything is fine when it is not, pour out to the Lord and if you have a brother and sister in Christ that you have a good relationship with, have them pour out with you.
Romans 12:15 said that we are to “mourn with those who mourn”
If your brother or sister is grieved, go grieve with them, go pour out with them if they let you.
But here is the thing that can’t be missed about the “pouring out” of this psalmist and that is the objective, he is pouring out because he want more of God. He is away from his home, and he is not pouring out because he misses his property, if he has a family, wife and kids, that is not mentioned, he is pouring out his soul because he wants more of God. He is thirsting for God.
When he reflects back on his past, he reflects back on things that are all God related!
He first reflected back on the time he went up to the temple AND
Then in verse 6, he reflects back on some encounter that he had with God on the mountains of Israel.
So the psalmist is not just reflecting back on random happy events! Like the time I went to this cool party or the time I went to burger king, but he is reflecting on God specific events——–Events THAT BROUGHT HIM CLOSER TO GOD.
So for us in our fight against sadness, the times when we feel that God is distant.
Battle Tip#2———–Reflect back on God specific events-
Events where God brought you out. Times when you situation seemed impossible then God showed up. Times when you gave up hope then God showed up. Reflect on those things.
Why do this reflection? Because it will encourage your heart to hope in God.
Look what happens next.
In verse 5– The psalmist is speaking life to himself, he is speaking to his soul.
After the soul pep talk, he reflects back on God in the land of Israel, maybe there was an encounter here or he is just reflecting on God’s creation in the land of Israel.
But then he brings us to the depths of his sadness.
Verse 7-Waterfalls Gods Sovereignty-He (God) can change situations right now but he is allowing the psalmist to go through.
There is a huge gap between verses 7-8. Many people, when they understand verse 7, don’t make it to verse 8.
Verse 8-Eventhough God’s waves have gone over him, he does not lose faith.
This reminds me of Job 13:15-“Though he slay me, I will hope in him”
We touch on the other verse earlier, so I want to bring you to the last verse in this psalm, he ends it with encouragement to his soul to hope in God and he tells his soul that I am going to praise Him for the help that is coming my way. So the psalmist is essentially praising God in advance. He knows that his help is coming, yes he questions from time to time in this psalm but he ultimately knows that God is going to bring him out.
Battle tip#3-Praise God in advance, you know that he is going to bring you out.
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