Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 43:5
At some point in life, we will all encounter an internal struggle. A battle between what we know and how we feel? It is a conflict which every child of God throughout the ages has faced. We see it in such verses as:
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. – Romans 7:19
The battle of the believer is knowing what God’s Word teaches, but feeling the weight of our circumstances. For example, we read in Hebrews 13:5 “God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” We believe God, we trust in His promises, but there are times we still feel all alone.
Another example could be in the areas of forgiveness. We read many verses throughout Scripture such as Ephesians 1:7, “In Him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” We know that we are forgiven in Christ, yet so many believers still struggle feeling guilty and unclean before God. As Satan comes to remind us of all the wrong we have done, we can too easily come into agreement with his accusation rather than God’s promises.
As the psalmist writes Psalm 43, we can hear the anguish of internal battle raging in his soul. He knows that God will deliver him. He sings how God is his joy and yet he is struggling. It’s as if he is saying, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Don’t you know God is good? Don’t you know He is faithful.”
We all know what it’s like to try and shake ourselves out of feeling something, but failing be able to do so. The psalm provides us with a great comfort that in these times we are not alone. Furthermore, this psalm encourages us to be honest with God about how we are feeling and seek His help. The psalmist prays for spiritual light, so he can see beyond his physical circumstances. Then he reminds his soul of God’s promises.
Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote: “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in this psalm] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.” (Spiritual Depression, 20).