Updated: Jul 21, 2019
Have you ever felt the dark curtains of depression closing in on you? Like room darkening shades, depression can block out every sliver of light until you find yourself groping in darkness, trying to find a way out. True depression is more than a fleeting sense of sadness. It is a gut-wrenching despondency; a deadness deep within the soul. In the pit of this darkness you'll grab anything that might bring even a fraction of illumination to your life. Some people may reach for food or cigarettes. Some may grab a beer and then another and another until the pain is dulled to bearable. Still others attach themselves to another person, hoping this person will be able to pull them from the pit. None of these are true solutions to the darkness of depression. When our soul feels dead, God is the only source of light that will bring true relief. David declares this truth in Psalm 119:25:
"Lord, I'm fading away. I'm discouraged and lying in the dust; revive me by your word, just like You promised You would." TPT
Some of you may have never felt the way David describes himself in these words. I have. At my lowest I truly felt like a dead woman walking. Medication helped relieve the physical symptoms but I knew true soul restoration could only come from God. Whether you've experienced this midnight of the soul or not; all of us carry around a body of death. Before asking Christ into our hearts we are all dead men and women walking. Our sin nature is our body of death, as Paul states in Romans 7:24:
"O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death?" AMP
Our sin nature brings corruption, death, soul depression. It's all a burden too heavy for us to bear. But Jesus. Jesus bore this burden for us. When we are dead in sin, our soul "cleaving to the dust", salvation is our only hope of revival. Like David, we must cry out to God to cure us of our spiritual darkness. We must ask God to cure us of our soul depression; but not just any cure. David didn't ask God for comfort. He didn't ask God to lift him up. He asked for revival.
David was aware of his own sin and weakness. He knew his need for God. He knew nothing but God's word could bring his sin-dead soul back to life. An understanding of our own unworthiness and need for rescue always precedes revival. When we find ourselves in the midnight of soul depression we need to turn to the light of God's word. Jesus tells us in John 6:63b that every word He speaks is "spirit and life". The only cure for dead souls is God's life-giving word.
Once we hear God's word and realize our unworthiness we must then turn to confession. We declare all our shortcomings, all our transgression, all the dark deeds that have left us dead. This is what David did. He held nothing back but poured it all to God - the good, the bad, the ugly...his sins, fears, worries, pain, brokenness, troubles, concerns, joys. There was intimacy between David and his Lord which allowed him to confess completely, candidly, and comfortably. David told God everything without fear of rejection.
This "declaring of our ways" to God should be a daily happening. Every time a sin enters in we must confess so no separation comes between us and our Lord. We must keep our confession current to stave off soul depression.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:25-26 is:
Soul depression is only cured through contemplation of God's word and confession of our sin.
In what ways have you experienced soul depression? Where do you turn when your soul feels dead within you? What sin do you need to confess? Spend some time with God asking Him to show you your sin. As He brings a sin to mind confess it and ask Him to forgive you. Psalm 51 is a great Psalm to pray as you confess your sin.
Once confession has taken place we are in the right position to be taught by God. It is only through knowledge of God's ways that we can keep from sin. As we cry out to God for understanding of His word He directs our steps in the right direction. We learn this truth in Proverbs 3:5-6:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take."
Without God's guidance our default is always to walk in our own ways. However, asking God to give us understanding allows us to walk wisely in His ways. As we begin walking wisely in God's way our desire becomes to seek His viewpoint in all areas of life. In turn, seeking God's viewpoint gives us confidence to speak out about His wonderful ways. Indeed it becomes like a fire we can't control and we must tell others about His life altering word. Jeremiah put it this way:
"But if I say, ' I'll never mention the Lord again or speak in His name, His word burns in my heart like a fire. It's like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can't do it!'" Jeremiah 20:9 NLT
What is your attitude toward God's word? Where do you need more understanding of His word? Will you cry out for understanding so you can begin walking wisely in His ways? How confident are you in speaking out about God? What can you do to bolster your confidence? How can prayerful reading and studying of God's Word give us this confidence?
Though confession of sin does lift soul depression, we often still feel a heaviness even after confession. Such was the case for David in verse 28. This heaviness comes when we realize we will always be in a battle against soul depression. When we consider the state of this world and our own bent toward sin, our hearts can become heavy. A heavy heart causes us to feel we have no strength, no stability, no stamina.
David prayed for revival, now he pleads for strength. Strength to continue walking in God's way. Strength to complete the task set before him. Strength to endure in his fight against sin. But again, this request was not for just any strength. David asked God to strengthen him "according to Your word." The Amp expresses it this way: "strengthen me according to [the promises of] Your Word." God's Word contains many promises. Promises of His presence. Promises of His protection. Promises of His provision. When we find ourselves weak in our fight against sin we must do as David did and cry out for God to strengthen us with the promises of His Word.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12:
"We are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere." AMP
Realization of the spiritual battle we must fight daily can leave us feeling hopelessly overwhelmed. We must know God's Word in order to stand firm in His strength. As the message paraphrases Ephesians 6:17: "God's Word is an indispensable weapon." David gives us the solution for overwhelm in Psalm 61:1-4
"O God, listen to my cry! From the ends of the earth, I cry to You for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for You are my safe refuge. a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in Your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of Your wings!" NLT
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:27-28 is:
When God teaches us His Word, we gain strength for the battle against soul depression.
Where do you need to confess sin so that you are in the right position to learn from God? Where do you need to ask God for understanding in order to walk wisely in His ways? What is causing your heart heaviness today? Why? Where do you turn when your heart is heavy and you feel overwhelmed? How are you fighting your battle against soul depression? What do you need to do in order to wield the sword of God's Word better?
When we are weak and overwhelmed it's easy to turn from God's word and toward our sin. We all have that one sin we go back to in times of weakness. For David that sin was lying. We see this in 1 Samuel 21 when he lies twice to Ahimelech the priest and again in 1 Samuel 27 when he lies to the king of Gath. And the lie that led to the murder of Uriah found in 2 Samuel 11. David was aware of his most used default setting so he cried out for God to keep him from his deceitful ways. He pleaded for God to be gracious to him and teach him. David understood the only way to keep from sinning was to be drenched in God's word. As king, David was required to write out God's law. He knew God's word, it was written by his own hand, written in his mind; here, once again David is pleading with God to write His word on his heart to keep him from falling into his default sin.
As we begin spending time in God's word, we begin to know God's word. The more we know of God's word, the more we love God's word and like David, we begin longing for more and more of God's word. This longing leads to the deliberate choice to lay God's word out each day, the intentional choice to study God's word. We choose the way of truth when we choose daily study of God's word.
Charles Spurgeon said: "Men do not drop into the right way by chance; they must choose it, and continue to choose it, or they will soon wander from it."
Choosing to follow God's word means we stick to it no matter what...in troubles, in uncertainties, in joys, in sorrows, in triumphs, in loses. Like a toddler clinging to his mommy; like a drowning person clinging to a life preserver, we must learn to cling to God's word. The Christian who chooses to cling to God's word is the Christian who is constant, certain, calm in the storms of life. Choosing to cling to God's word come what may sets us up to stand firm and keeps us from shame. We cry out with David: "Lord, I have chosen Your word, I am clinging to Your word; please keep me from doing anything that I would be ashamed of, anything that would bring You shame."
As we learn to cling to God's word, choosing to obey Him, choosing to set our hearts on His word, choosing to follow His ways, then God broadens our understanding.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:29-32 is:
Choosing to cling to God's word makes us wise in God's ways.
What is your default sin? How can you begin to reset your default to God's Word? To what do you cling when soul depression comes your way? What do your daily choices say about your commitment to God, His Word, and His ways?
At the beginning of this section, David is clinging to the dust. By the end He is clinging to God's Word. In the beginning he is laid low, weary with sorrow. By the end he is holding fast to God's Word. In the beginning he is weakened by sin. By the end he is strengthened by God's Word. In the beginning his sin has him paralyzed. By the end he has chosen the way of faithfulness and is running in God's ways. We are to do the same. As the writer of Hebrews says:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles . And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..."
Gathered manna from Daleth (Psalm 119:25-32) is:
Confessing sin, choosing God's Word and clinging to it all lead to chasing after God.
This is a beautiful procession. We realize our unworthiness so we confess our sin. We desire deliverance from soul depression so we choose God's Word. We yearn for strength for our battles so we cling to God's Word. We long to be wise in God's ways so we choose and cling to His word. Is this the procession of your life? If not, what do you need to throw off in order to follow David's procession? What sin easily entangles you, keeping your from running in God's way? How can you better chase after God? What do you need to do to fix your eyes on Jesus each day?
When we chase after God our hearts cry becomes that of David's in verse 33: "Teach me, Lord!" Growing up if we did something stupid our mama used to tell us, "Use the brain the good Lord gave you!" That's what David is praying here; that he would use the brain God gave him to follow God's ways. But David isn't simply asking God to give him head knowledge of His ways. He is asking for heart knowledge. He is asking for clear understanding of God's will, not in a specific instance, but for life as a whole. Because he knows God's Word, David knows God's will. Now he is praying for correct application of God's will.
Isaiah tells us:
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"
Knowing God's Word enables us to know His will. As we learn more of God's Word we are better equipped to hear His voice and walk in His will. God is the only one who can guide us in doing what is right in His sight. Paul told the Philippians:
"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him." Philippians 2:13 NLT
Jesus told His disciples:
"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." John 14:26
We have God's Spirit living within us, empowering us to live God's way. Like David we must pray for a heart softened toward God so that we do what is right in His sight.
David exclaims that he will follow God's Word "to the end", obeying it "with all my heart". This means David is willing to follow God's Word to his final breath and that he will obey it without condition. We don't get to a certain point in life and say, "I'm done. I've been faithful to God all my life. I don't need to be diligent in my pursuit of Him any longer. Now that I'm old I can slack off."
Psalm 92:12-15 says of the aged:
"The righteous will flourish like palm trees, they will grow like cedars of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 'The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.'" NIV
David knew there is no retirement in God's kingdom. He remained steadfast and sincere in his obedience to God.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:33-35 is:
With God's Spirit teaching us we are able to know and to walk in His will.
What kind of knowledge do you have of God's Word - head or heart? How can you ensure you have a clear understanding of God's will? In what ways has God's Spirit empowered to live God's way this week? What is your attitude toward serving God in old age? How can you remain steadfast and sincere in your obedience to God as you age?
Remaining steadfast and sincere in our obedience requires we turn toward God in all areas. The word used in the KJV for "incline" in verse 36 means: "to stretch or spread out; by implication, to bend away." (Strong's Concordance) David is asking God to stretch his heart toward His ways and to bend it away from sin's way. The specific sin David mentions is covetousness or as the NIV renders it: "away from selfish gain." When we covet something it means we desire that thing more than we desire God.
I am addicted to pretty things. Whether pretty clothes, pretty jewels, or pretty things for my home, I covet all things pretty! Several years ago I realized this was becoming a big problem. I was beginning to covet things, spending too much money on them, and causing friction in my marriage. At the time I was memorizing Psalm 119. When I read verses 36-37 I knew I had some confessing and changing to do! These verses became my go to prayer when I found myself in a store coveting pretty things. Soon I felt a shift in my heart, God was beginning to transform my covetous heart into a compliant heart. He began to cultivate in me a desire for more of His beauty instead of the pretty things of the world.
Our natural bent is toward worthless things. God told the Israelites to put tassels on the corners of their garments to remind them not to follow their hearts desire for evil.
"You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes." Numbers 15:39 NIV
We all need reminders to help us stay on track in our spiritual lives. We may not have tassels on the corners of our garments but we can write God's Word on cards and place them where we will see them often.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:36-37 is:
Knowing God's Word turns our heart toward His ways and away from sin's ways.
What do you covet? What have you placed before God in your heart? Look up verses that speak against the specific sin you bend toward. Write these on index cards and place them where you will see them often. Commit to memorizing theses verses. Use them as breath prayers to help you turn toward God in your times of temptation.
In verse 38 David cries out for God to "establish" His Word to him. When something is established it means that thing is permanent, it is settled in place. Isaiah says of God's Word:
"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever."
Isaiah 40:8 AMP
And Peter tells us:
"But the Word of the Lord (divine instruction, the Gospel) endures forever. And this Word is the good news which was preached to you." 1 Peter 1:25 AMP
God's Word is eternal. Nothing can change it. David is asking God to make His Word unchangeable within his heart. As Mary responded to the angel's message about Jesus: "Let it be done to me according to what you have said"; so too must our response be to God about His Word. Like Mary we must trust that God is able to do what seems impossible to us. Like David we must cry out for God to establish His Word in us, making it such a permanent part of our lives that we do not falter in our belief. When God's Word is established within our hearts we are sensitive to our sinful ways and long to be obedient. With God's Word firmly rooted in us we are better equipped to turn away from the disgrace of our sinful nature.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:38-40 is:
With God's Word established in our hearts we readily submit to His will.
To what extend is God's Word established within your heart? How quickly do you respond in obedience when God asks you to do something you don't quite understand? Where do you struggle to believe God? What can you do to work toward an unfaltering faith?
Gathered manna from He (Psalm 119:33-40) is:
With God as our teacher His word is established within us and we are strengthened to be steadfast and sincere in our obedience to Him.
I hope you will cry out with David: "Lord! Teach me! Establish Your Word in me! Turn my heart toward You. Strengthen me for battle! Help me choose You, choose Your Word, choose Your way!"
Until next time,
God bless and keep you,
1) Read Psalm 119:25-40 marking the references to God's Word and any other words or phrases that stand out to you.
2) Prayerfully answer the questions found in this teaching. Complete the assignments given.
3) Look up the following references and write what you learn about God as our teacher.