In part four of Psalm 119, we read the following verses:
I lie in the dust; revive me by Your Word.
I told You my plans and You answered. Now teach me Your decrees.
Help me understand the meaning of Your commandments and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.
I weep with sorrow; encourage me by Your word.
Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing Your instructions.
I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by Your regulations.
I cling to Your laws. Lord, don’t let me be put to shame.
I will pursue Your commands for You expand my understanding. (119:25-32)
The opening words of this section reveal to us a despondent or depressed psalmist, one who is disheartened. We don’t know exactly what discouraged him but as we go through life, we all have opportunities to feel the same way. Where do we turn at such moments? The psalmist sets an example for us: he turned quickly to the Lord.
I told You my plans and You answered. In his despondency, he voiced to the Almighty what he intended to do in response to the situation. God listened and ‘answered’. We are not told the answer but we get a clue by the psalmist’s next words: Now teach me Your decrees. This is a man who has a living relationship with God; in his darkest hour, he knows where to turn. He speaks to the Lord as a man speaks to his friend. He relates his feelings and his discouragement to the only One who can truly help. Whatever the situation, he knows that the ultimate answer to depression and discouragement is to meditate on God’s Word. His promises are eternal and His compassion never fails. He strengthens our heart to remain at peace in the midst of a storm by renewing our faith in His abiding care and protection.
The writer goes on to ask for understanding and commits to meditating on all the goodness God has already shown him in the past. I will meditate on Your wonderful deeds. This is not just a vague or general statement but is personal to the writer and highlights a powerful truth: Gratitude – cultivating an attitude of thanksgiving – is one of the most powerful deterrents to depression and discouragement. Recalling all the blessings we have already received from the Lord is a mentally, spiritually and emotionally healthy exercise. All those things we take for granted…the little things we never thanked Him for – calling them to mind stirs up within us the light of appreciation that drives the darkness of despair far from us.
Keep me from lying to myself, he continues. Do you do that? Perhaps you’ve never thought of it this way but consider: Self-talk that is negative, degrading and demeaning is actually lying to yourself. You are a child of God, beloved by Him. On your worst day, you are still precious in His sight and His love is steadfast towards you. To tell yourself otherwise is to lie to yourself. Not a God-pleasing thing to do!
Now here’s the challenge: we are least inclined to pray or turn to God’s Word when we feel discouraged or depressed. Yet that’s precisely when we need to do it the most. The choice is ours. Will we follow the example of the psalmist?
In the very next verse he declares, I have chosen to be faithful. That’s a critical statement. Notice what he didn’t say – I feel like being faithful or I’ll try to be faithful. No, he said “I have chosen…” He made a purposeful decision to do the very thing that will lift him from his discouragement; i.e., to immerse himself in God’s word.
I am reminded of the passage in Deuteronomy that says ‘…man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.’ Deut. 8:3
I make you this promise based on the Scriptures and the experience of many people I’ve known over the years: The surest path to freedom from depression and discouragement is choosing to turn to the Lord and to ponder and study His Word.
Make friends with the Psalms, especially this one that we are currently studying. Purpose in your heart to increase the time you spend in reading scripture. It’s the best investment for your soul.
Know someone who could use a spiritual lift? Invite them to join this Bible Study and….don’t forget to leave a comment below.
If you are enjoying this study, you might also like our weekly Torah commentary which is posted at http://intunewithtorah.com