Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God
One of the great values of Living in the Psalms is that they teach us how to pray, especially when we find ourselves in a place where prayer is difficult. A time of depression is one of those places. When you are depressed, discouraged, down cast, disheartened or whatever else you may call it, even the simplest things can become hard. And sadly, the things that seem to become the hardest are often the very things we need most. Depression disables our desire for fellowship (which we need). It can make us shrink back from prayer, from worship, and from earnestly seeking the presence of God. And yet when we are discouraged, these are the very things we need most!
The two psalms we will look at today give guidance to the distressed soul of the believer. I say “psalms” (plural) because Psalm 42 and 43 are twins, born to belong together. You can tell this is true by the fact that (1) Psalm 43 does not have a “heading”, but shares in the heading of Psalm 42. (2) Psalm 43 continues the theme of Psalm 42, right down to the words used. Notice that Ps 42:5, 11, and Ps 43:5 are all identical. These two psalms are actually a single song in three verses, each of which ends with the same chorus. And then (3) several ancient manuscripts present Psalm 42-43 together as one psalm.
So what will we find here? In this psalm depressed Christians will learn how to find help from God by fighting for joy and persisting in prayer until they receive the help of His presence. This psalm teaches us how to acknowledge our sad state, being honest with God about our emotions. And yet at the same time it teaches us how not to be ruled by those emotions – especially in that thrice repeated chorus where the Psalmist “talks back” to his soul, questioning himself about why he feels as he does in light of God’s faithful promises. There is great help and hope to be had in taking this Psalm to heart! I can’t wait to share it!
I also want to recommend a good book on this subject by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones called “Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cures.” See our book table.
May God lift up the downcast as they look up to Him.