Scripture Reference: Psalm 28:1-5
If we look carefully at the emotions described here by David, we can see that it comes from the heart of a depressed person. Through his honest expression of his emotions about things happening in him and around him, David also gives us insight into the kind of things that may cause depression.
This prayer is filled with beauty from the start to the finish. He starts with declaring who God is to him in the situation he finds himself in. God is his Rock. When we are down, it feels as if the earth under us is giving way.
To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock
The things and the people we thought we could count on have left us disillusioned and disappointed. When we attempt to find stability in temporal things, we are setting ourselves up for disaster. The only one that is eternal is God. And He never changes. When we find our security in Him, we will never ever be disappointed because He is solid as a rock. David uses the metaphorical language of describing God to be a rock in order to bring across God’s unchanging nature. God’s love for us doesn’t change according to how good we’ve done for the day. When He promises His love to someone, it is eternal. God does not have a frivolous character. When He commits Himself to someone it will be forever.
David says if God doesn’t answer his prayer he will be like a dead man. He is so distressed and in despair that he feels he may as well die rather than live with God’s silence to his prayer. He is not praying from a platform where he lays claim to God’s help. He cries for mercy.
Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help
This tells me that he understood that God owes no man anything. “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” (Romans 11:35). David was a man after God’s own heart. David was promised that the Messiah would be born from his line, and yet David never laid any claims against God. He prayed for mercy, understanding that all have sinned and fallen short of His glory and that only be His mercy can we receive favour as we place our faith in God.
In prayer he lists the reasons for his depressive state of mind:
- The evil intentions of people who pretend to be his friends but stab him in the back. He refers to people who “speak cordially to their neighbours but harbours malice in their hearts.” They pretend to like you, but they cannot stand the sight of you. They compliment you and flatter you so that you will let your guard down, but the moment you allow them close enough to get a little inside information about you, they can hardly wait to leave your presence since they cannot rest until they’ve told someone else.
- People have no respect for the work of God’s hands. This may refer to how they treat people (since we are all the work of His hands) and it may refer to how they destroy the environment. There are enough people who love money more than they love the environment and sometimes even more than they love people. Criminal records reflect the many people who killed for financial gain.
David’s depressive state of mind was because of how people treated him and how they are treating God and the work of His hands. He is concerned that God will bring the same punishment on him that He will bring on people with evil intentions towards others.
Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil
Why would he think that? Firstly, I believe it may have been because sometimes it appears as if those who love God suffer the same terrible things as those who don’t care for Him. David needed some assurance, that even if this is how it appears to be, God is not unjust and he knows that God will save His children. At the moment, in his depressed state, he felt as if there is no distinction.
Secondly, it may also have been because he recognized his need for mercy because he was himself a sinful man. Who can honestly say they have never gossiped about another person? Many people are guilty of acting in a hypocritical way towards another person. Remember the words that we cannot say we love God whom we have not seen and then say we hate a person whom we have seen. Love for God and love for others are inseparable. Does this mean we will like all people? No. We have many different personalities –character traits and cultural inclinations which clash with others. But how then can we love others? It is not a feeling of love, but an action of love. Responding to the question about who our neighbour is, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to show that our neighbour is any person who comes across our path with a need that we are able to meet. It is not about having fuzzy, warm feelings towards everyone. Many of us may have pretended we didn’t see that person in need and like the hypocritical church leaders in Jesus’ story, crossed over to the other side of the road.
This portion of Scripture reveals that the hypocrisy of people can trigger a depressive state of mind, especially when it is uncovered and it comes from people we trusted. Another trigger is to observe mankind’s disregard for God and His creation. But, most importantly, David takes all his cares to God in prayer. He never attempted to hide anything from God and was not shy to openly praise God for the deliverance he received.