December 14, 2017

Dealing with Depression Head On, Part 2

A Divine Description of Depression from Psalm 143

By Matt Recker

“All I have ever wanted is to find a mate. I thought being married would change my depression, but since I have been married, I am even more depressed. We tried having children, but nothing we have tried has worked out. Then I thought buying a house would cure my emptiness, but now we are in debt over our heads. Every time I hear the phone ring, I cringe with anxiety, because I am so fearful of the debt collectors calling. Sure, I have been a Christian since I was a teenager, but I have fallen away from church. Sometimes I don’t feel like getting out of bed. I eat junk food and watch endless hours of television to escape from my problems. Now I have an appointment to see a psychiatrist, and perhaps he can give me some anti-depressant medications to help me through this time.”

Such is the way of life for many Americans, even for those who profess to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Multitudes are gripped with anxiety, filled with anger, and ruled by agitation and live thinking that having certain things are necessary for happiness. However any “thing” we seek other than the Lord to satisfy our emptiness is nothing less than a heart idol.

In this second article let’s focus on the decision and then the dedication David makes in Psalm 143 in the midst of his depressed state. Like David, we can defeat these heart idols and break out of the downward spiral of bad decisions to experience the joy and strength of the Lord once again.

David’s DECISION (Psalm 143:5, 6)

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirtieth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.”

David makes a two-fold decision that will lead him to victory over his depression. First, he MEDITATES on God’s POWER (Ps. 143:5). Note the language David uses: “I remember…I meditate…I muse… on ALL thy works…on the work of THY hands.” “Remember” means to recall to the mind and mention it with your mouth. “Meditate” means to revolve around the mind. This is an important word used in the first two Psalms. We can either meditate on the Law of the Lord (Psalm 1), or we can imagine or meditate on vain things (Psalm 2). The Psalmist chooses to “meditate on all thy works. “Instead of moping, David began musing; instead of groveling in guilt, he looked to God; instead of thinking about what he had done, he began thinking about what God has done.”[1] We need to put off our self-centered focus and put our thoughts on God’s Word, God’s will, and God’s wonders.

One of the keys to victory over depression is to renew our pattern of thinking and repent of heart idols by placing our heart on God and His powerful, loving, and glorious works. Start with His GLORY in CREATION! Then move to consider His GRACE in the History of REDEMPTION. Think about how God saved Noah and destroyed the world in the flood. Muse on how God called Abraham out of the idolatry of Chaldea. Think about how God brought up Joseph from the pit into a palace. Think and thank God for Jesus’ amazing grace to shed His blood and die on the cross for your sin, to rise and now sit at the Father’s right hand to intercede for you. Apply God’s Word to your heart. We are a depressed culture for we have forgotten God’s power in creation and His grace in redemption.

Secondly, David THIRSTS for God’s PRESENCE. Like a child who needs a hug from a loving mom or dad, David stretches forth his soul to the Lord, longing for God. Like a parched and cracked land longs for rain, David thirsts for God.

Perhaps you need to stop your self-pity and desist making decisions based on feeling. Ask God for His grace and Spirit to strengthen you, and then by faith claim His strength. Stop telling yourself that you are too tired to go to church, or that you have nothing to wear, or, that you will feel like a hypocrite. Rather, claim to yourself: “my soul thirtieth after thee!”

David’s DEDICATION (Psalm 143:7-12)

David dedicates himself first of all to to SEE GOD’s FACE.

“Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth; hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.” (Psalm 143:7)

We need to see and experience GOD, that is to KNOW that we are in His very presence. David Brainerd wrote in his diary, “As I was walking in a dark, thick grove, unspeakable glory seemed to open to the view and apprehension of my soul. (I) was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, loveliness, greatness, and other perfections of God, that I was even swallowed up in Him.” (Brian Edwards, Revival, p. 53, 54) We don’t need the best Smart Phone and multiple cable channels as much as we need to see His face and to know we are in His glorious presence.

David dedicated himself to HEAR GOD’s WORD.

“Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk: for I lift up my soul unto thee.”

We need to hunger for God’s Word, to let His Word satisfy our dry soul. God’s WORD must fill our emptiness! Dedicate yourself to read and meditate on Scripture every day. His Word is the “joy and rejoicing of mine heart.” (Jeremiah 15:16)

Third, David longed to EXPERIENCE GOD’s PROTECTION. He cries, “Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.” The cry, “deliver me” is a frequent plea of the Psalmist, and it should be from us as well. Here are just a few verses from Psalms with this cry, and you can discover many more:

Psalm 31:2: Deliver me speedily.

Psalm 39:8: Deliver me from all my transgressions.

Psalm 43:1: Deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.

Psalm 119:170: Deliver me according to thy word.

David next surrendered himself to FULFILL GOD’s WILL, v.10

“Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God; thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.”

The will of God is great medicine for the depressed soul. We need to learn the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. Self-centeredness is a cause of depression. Serving God and others by doing His will can break the cycle of selfishness.

God wants us to “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that ye might walk worthy of the LORD unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might.” (Colossians 1:9b-11a) Are you growing in your relationship with God, strengthened by His power, and doing His will?

Finally, David dedicates himself to TASTE GOD’s DELIVERANCE.

He pleads, “Bring my soul out of trouble…destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.” (Psalm 143:11c, 12b) David concludes this passionate prayer by pleading for God to rescue him from trouble and yielding himself to God as His servant. Is your heart yielded to Him? Do you want His honor? Revival is a complete and total dependence upon God. David finishes this Psalm by confessing that he is God’s servant.

Our world of innovation and invention is which utopians once dreamed, but what has it brought us? There is more divorce, more despair, and more depression than ever. If you find yourself in depression, make these decisions David made, and dedicate yourself to God by His grace, surrendering yourself to the Risen Lord Jesus Christ as His servant.

Part One is Here

Matt Recker is the pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in New York City.

  1. John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms, Vol. 2, p. 632. []

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