It is a strange thing, but most Christians would never admit to another Christian that they are confused, depressed, anxious, afraid, or feeling let down by God. Of course, no believer can be ‘let down’ by God, but that is how many feel at some time in their lives… except for those superficial ones who have no true commitment anyway.
We all reach a point of despair or panic at some time in our lives. A situation, or a person, can batter our beliefs and faith almost to submission, and we are shocked by the inadequacy of our response to God and His word!
A huge number of Christians resort to depression because of this; and I use the word ‘resort’ advisedly, because it is the correct term. Neurotic depression is sin – make no mistake about it. But, do not confuse it with a depression that can set in to older people, because it can be a symptom of the onset of dementia. There can also be a ‘physical’ depression brought on by any number of ailments, from anaemia to hypothyroidism. Only careful blood and other tests can determine if there is a genuine cause.
Surely neurotic depression is real? Yes, it is – but it is not acceptable, nor is it godly, it is a sinking into self and sin. But, David is not talking about any of these. He is making some very factual statements, posed as questions.
Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones once wrote a book on ‘spiritual depression’. Personally I believe he used a wrong name for the condition, which is not really depression, but a heightened form of spiritual awareness, much like that famous time when Luther threw an ink-pot at the devil! It is a hard-nosed condition only known to those who are serious in their faith and walk with God. This is what David is describing to the chief musician of the Temple.
How do we know which type it is? That is easy: this kind of spiritual awareness always ends in praise for God and a strengthening of resolve to obey and follow the Lord, no matter what the circumstances are. A sinful depression taunts the fellow, and sends him into a downward spiral of sinful turning from God, and into one’s own emotions and dark thoughts.
It is not sin to ask God where He is, when we need Him most! Indeed, He expects us to call out to Him. After all, we are His children, and children are free to ask their Father anything, as well as pour out their fears and frustrations. So – do it! We all need an honest view of God. And our weak thoughts are part of it.
How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
It is my view that just because God allows us a degree of comfort, peace and prosperity at times, we may never assume He will always do so. To presume upon God invites possible deviance from truth and reality. God looks after us as He sees fit, not as we wish. This is why David, the apple of God’s eye, calls out to God asking if He will again help him. He does not presume upon God.
It is not that David feared God would leave him alone, but that the interval between the last help and the next seemed long and arduous. He also knew that it was for his own good and strength. How many call upon God in this way, but without the realisation that God WILL help, but in His own time and using His own unique methods?
This was not a plea of desperation from David; it was a simple statement of fact – God had not yet helped him, so when would He do so? Only a person close to God by living a righteous life can dare to ask God that question!
Is it wrong to ask God WHEN He will help you? It depends on WHY you ask. For example, if you expect God to help you but you are not living righteously, then you may be disappointed. If you harangue Him without waiting for the answer, there is likely to be no response. God has His plan, set up well before you were even born. He will stick to that plan, and answer in His own way at the time set forth in His mind. It will always be the right time and right method.
David, though he sinned on some occasions, had a spiritual ‘right’ to ask God his question (though the word ‘right’ is not adequate), because he lived an exemplary life in the eyes of God. When he temporarily lost his way with Bathsheba, he began to lose his kingdom. Even the apple of God’s eye must face the consequences of sin, and all sins have consequences! Yet, God continued to look after him. And David lived as he ought. Therefore, he could approach God with his query: “How long wilt thou forget me?”
Once again, David’s was a rhetorical question, because he KNEW God would answer at some time. But, his fears got the better of him for a short while, though he knew God was not hiding His face from him!
The term ‘how long wilt thou forget me’, shakach, can mean to forget, or to stop caring. Now God cannot forget. And He will only stop caring (outwardly) for a purpose, to bring His people into line through repentance. (He will not stop caring in the Heavenly realm). So, the other meaning – to ignore – is probably what is meant by David here.
God will, and does, ignore someone, again for His divine purpose. It could be that the person must learn a valuable lesson first, or suffer some privation as a penalty for sin, or must simply learn to be patient. God manoeuvres situations to bring about His plan in our lives. We must be patient.
When Christians say that once we repent, God forgets their sins, this is not quite accurate, though it will do as an earthly explanation. It is impossible for God to ‘forget’ anything, but He can set aside the memory of it as a reason to punish.
Be assured, Christian: God will never forget you, nor cast you aside. If you live in obedience and are righteous, you can expect God to answer your pleas. If you only call upon Him when you need help, but without living righteously, you will not hear an answer, except the call for you to repent! Only after that will He help.
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
David continues his pleading. His enemies have had their way, and now David is looking for relief. How much longer must he ruminate in his mind and heart? (“take counsel in my soul”). How much longer must he put up with grief? These are reasonable questions, but not unusual.
The same conditions apply – righteousness and obedience, as keys to God’s help. Christians can be very surprised to learn that what they thought was obedience was only long-suffering, and their righteousness was only feigned to get something from God, or was mistaken.
It is the next question that gives David’s plea substance and a reason for God to answer soon: “How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” These are almost the exact words I used when pleading with God in 2005, when I was under severe attack from homosexuals. Time and again, they attempted to drown me in their hatred, with waves of sewage and lies.
Whilst I was concerned about my future and income, my biggest concern was the same as David’s: that my enemies should not finally win and cause me to be vanquished. My reasoning was that if the enemies won, then my faith in God would be scorned, as they would claim God did not answer. This I could not bear, and so I prayed for His help, to raise me up, thus nullifying the hateful victory claimed by those who hated God.
It was heartfelt… I HAD to be seen to rise above the sordid schemes my enemies used to get to me! For me, it was the most vital thing to happen. And God did not let me down. He helped enormously. This is what David was concerned about; not his own human comfort, but that others would not think they had beaten God, or crushed His servant!
Today, many enemies of God rally around the flags of Satan, who thinks his time has come to defeat the Lord momentarily. Satan knows he can never defeat God, but he does the next best thing, by attacking His people. His aim is to cause as much damage to the world and its occupants, and as much confusion, as he can, until his time has come to be cast into hell.
He knows his time is short; he knows where he is going. And he can only take with him those who are not predestinated to Heaven. As children of God WE are safe! Like David we might suffer along the way, and even do wrong, but we belong to our Father, God, and He will never let us go, even when we sin.
Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
David continues his plea, for the Lord to prove Himself greater than Satan. For David, God’s pre-eminence is certain, but he wants the people and his enemies to see it for themselves. He calls on God to listen carefully to him.
He calls upon the LORD (Jehovah) who is his God (‘elohiym)… Jehovah as the existing One, His formal title, and ‘elohiym, whose face before David is personal. Do not let me die in the shadow of my enemies, who will laugh in derision! Instead, give me hope and let my eyes flash with strength. I have often heard foolish Christians say they welcome death and look forward to leaving this world behind. There is nothing wrong with what they say, only in the way they mean it!
David fought his way through life, because this life is given to us by God. It is not given to us so that we may swiftly end it all and enter Heaven! We are on earth for a purpose… we should not hope to get away from it fast. Rather, we should pray for strength to carry on and to show our loyalty to Him. Death and Heaven will come soon enough!
Meanwhile, we are here to do His bidding, and to enjoy our stay, even if we suffer along the way. Let us call upon God to ‘lighten our eyes’! Let us not hide behind the excuse that Heaven is better, and so let us be gone! Instead, have joy in this life, and show others Who we obey and worship. Show them that God works for our good, and protects us. Let the Light of life, His Son, shine upon our face and from it. Let others see how different we really are, and how we live nobly on this earth.
If we do not do these things, we allow the enemy to rejoice at our fall. So, we MUST call upon God to sustain us, “Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; (and) those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.” To be moved, mowt, is to be shaken, causing us to slip downwards, to be overthrown. In Christian terms it means that, apart from causing us to fall greatly, we are disorientated and our foundations are shaking.
This must NEVER be the case! We either trust God, or we do not! See what happens when a situation arises in a family, for example… if the parents fall or show lack of faith, the whole family will watch and be dismayed; they will fall because the ones who should be strong are weak. The same goes for leaders of whole countries.
If we are truly of God, let us show it, or our enemies will rejoice: they will laugh at our misfortune, caused by their evils; they will scorn us for believing in a God Who they see as impotent to save. So, we must stand firm and show great joy, that though we be attacked, God is for us.
Do not let our enemies think we are done-down. Do not give them the opportunity to say “we have prevailed against him”. They might win at times, causing us harm, yet it is not the injury that causes them to laugh, but our faltering faith in God! Do not falter, but increase in faith. Then, the enemy will be unable to rejoice. They may even continue in great fury, but God is more than their match, and will Himself prevail.
You will note from the text that it is not our own strength and victories that win the day, but God and His plan. David asks God to “Consider (and) hear me”, for when He does, everything changes. Once we know God’s presence we will never be pathetic victims, but gloriously upheld children of the Lord. We might be attacked and might suffer greatly, but this is not the criterion for joy. Our joy is within, and not just within our bodies and minds, but within our saved souls, which no man, and certainly not Satan, can touch or harm.
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
I said earlier that David was making rhetorical points and that he had every reason to plead with God for a quick answer. We now see David, as usual, turning back to His faith, saying: “But I have trusted in thy mercy”, and so, he adds, “my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.” David truly believes and KNOWS God will answer his pleas.
Deep in his heart, David KNOWS God will save him from his enemies… he says in advance of help being given, that God will save him! As we have seen before, we should praise God for coming to our side, even before He does so. That is true faith, which does not falter or think otherwise.
Many do not speak openly about trust in God for a specific cause. They will not praise God for giving them the help they need, whatever it is, because they fear God will not answer! Is this faith? Of course not. It is just superstition wrapped in spiritual clothes; it is unbelief.
David continues in his praise for the salvation he knows will come soon. “I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” Not just with enough, but with abundance! When God gives His help, He does so with plenty.
Why do we fail to trust? Why do we not praise God in advance of His answers? It is because we have little faith and live by the rule of anxiety instead of by absolute trust He will answer. In other words, we ask for help but do not really expect it to come. Once again I will say – if we obey and live righteously, God WILL answer and come to our aid. But, if we do not live according to His will, we will see nothing.
© December 2010
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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