Confessing Despair

Psalm 142:3-6

In David’s dark song of depression, recorded as Psalm 142, the king confesses his deepest feelings of isolation and despair.

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
You knew my path.
In the way where I walk
They have hidden a trap for me. (142:3)

David feels enveloped or wrapped up in his depression, so much so his spirit feels faint and feeble. In the middle of confessing his darkest feelings of hopelessness, he acknowledges that God knows everything, even the thoughts and emotions he has not shared with any other person. David then adds that things on the outside of the cave are as depressing as on the inside. Traps were laid by Saul and his men. Spies were everywhere. He was a marked man.

Verse 4 rounds out the bleak picture.

Look to the right and see;
For there is no one who regards me;
There is no escape for me;
No one cares for my soul.

He invited the Lord to look to his right—the place for a protector and defender to stand—but no one was there. He was alone, humanly speaking. He could not escape. He felt that there was no one who understood him or cared for his soul.

Perhaps you feel down today, thinking that all hope is gone, that God has abandoned you, that the end has come. Yes, you may feel those things, but that doesn’t mean your feelings are true. The Lord of heaven knows the pressure of your feelings. He understands the depths of your distress. Best of all, He is there. He cares. He understands.

David’s prayer reflects a man who refuses to allow his feelings to cut off his access to the Lord and the help He promises.

I cried out to You, O LORD;
I said, “You are my refuge,
My portion in the land of the living.
Give heed to my cry,
For I am brought very low;
Deliver me from my persecutors,
For they are too strong for me.” (142:5–6)

His prayer includes the phrase “my portion in the land of the living.” It’s a double entendre. The “land of the living” refers to existence on this side of the grave. This poetic expression says, in effect, “You, Lord, are my life and reason for living.” The phrase also refers to David’s share of the Hebrew birthright, given to the people of Israel through His covenant with Abraham. In this way, David respectfully reminded the Lord that the Land of Promise belongs to the faithful. David had been faithful; Saul, who continued to enjoy the privileges of kingship, was disobedient. He called for the Lord to do what is just: unseat his persecutors and give the throne to him.

Feeling abandoned by God? Remember that feelings aren’t always true. God is there. He cares. He understands.

Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This

Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind (Brentwood, Tenn.: Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved. Used by permission.

Posted in Encouragement & Healing and tagged .

Accuracy, clarity, and practicality all describe the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. Chuck is the chairman of the board at Insight for Living and the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chuck also serves as the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where he is able to do what he loves most—teach the Bible to willing hearts. His focus on practical Bible application has been heard on the Insight for Living radio broadcast since 1979.