The writer of Psalm 42 was probably King David, although we cannot be sure. However, we can be sure that this writer was extremely depressed. Verse 3, “My tears have been my food day and night.” Verse 5, “Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil?” Verse 6, “I am deeply depressed.” Verse 9, “Why must I go about in sorrow because of the enemy’s oppression?” But while the writer is clearly depressed, we also see practical steps he takes in his depression:
- He thirsts for God
- He asks why
- He has good theology
- He preaches to himself
- He remembers
He thirsts for the living God
Verses 1-2 give the picture of this man desperately desiring God in the same way as an animal is desperate to find water. This of course would require a relationship with God in the first place. We desire God because we know what He has done for us and might be willing to do in the future. We have no desire for something we have no knowledge of or relationship with (Romans 3:10-11). According to Psalm 42 the first step out of depression is a relationship with God.
He asks why
The second step out of depression is to be open, honest and real with God. There are seven questions and six whys within Psalm 42. The writer wrote this way because he was a real man with real problems. It is okay to ask God why He is doing what He is doing. As Christians, we are to cast all of our anxieties on God (1 Peter 5:7). But while its okay to ask God why, we ought not to stay there.
He has good theology
While the writer does ask God why, he also has a good theology that tells him God is sovereign and in control. Verse 7-8, “Your breakers and your billows have swept over me. The Lord will send his faithful love.” As Christians, we need to have a good understanding of who God is and what He promises His children. Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for good. Not meaning that suffering won’t come, but when it does come, we can be sure that God has a purpose.
He preaches to himself
In verses 5 and 11 we see the writer talking to his own soul. This is such an important lesson for every Christian to learn. While we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, we also have the flesh tearing us down. So much of our self-talk is negative. As Christians, we need to preach truth to ourselves. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves every morning. If we fail to do so, the pressures of the world will inevitably crush us.
The last step in coming out of depression is to remember God’s faithful works in the past. Verse 4, “I remember as I pour out my heart.” Verse 6, “I am deeply depressed, therefore I remember.” Remember God’s answered prayers, remember the times when you felt closest to God. We should remember our own personal testimony and how God saved sinners like us. In doing so, we will not lose sight of the holy God we thirst after.
Depression is serious but as a Christian we have hope. The 5 steps out of depression according to Psalm 42 are simple but profound: Have a relationship with God, be real with God, have a good theology, preach to yourself, and remember God’s past work in your life.