Why are you downcast, O my soul?
What is one to do when you are faced with the storms (testings, tribulations, trials) of life? Or when you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4)? The answer of the psalmist sounds as strange as the question: Preach to your soul! Take yourself in the hand, look yourself in the eyes, and preach this message: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? HOPE in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Ps. 42:5,11; 43:5).
What possible HOPE is there? The psalmist, though in lament, is not in despair. He turns his mind from the disease to the cure, from anguish to remembrance, deliberately recalling to mind God’s grace and faithfulness and covenant vow. He forces himself to think of realities other than his own troubles. It is here that we come to the second element in these two psalms:
Psalm 42 : 1- 4 : the psalmist’s spiritual hunger leads to joyful memories of past worship
Psalm 42 : 6 -9 : which leads to remembrance of the Lord and realises that God is still in control, still present in steadfast love and still trustworthy!
Psalm 43 : 1 – 4 : the psalmist turns the questions into prayers, seeking God’s vindication and guidance and thereby replaces his darkness and fear into “the joy of the Lord”.
With this “HOPE” the psalmist can say : “ I SHALL YET PRAISE HIM”!
To be able to Praise God In The Storm, there are 2 key elements that a worshiper must do:
a) HOPE in God - To have HOPE you need the element of FAITH. Hebrews 11:1 says "now FAITH is being sure of what we HOPE for .... and you can confidently do so if your FAITH is rooted in His WORD because FAITH comes by hearing and hearing by His WORD (Romans 10:17). And your focus is in the Lord Who is Your Fortress, Your Hiding Place, Your Refuge .... the Author and Perfector of Your FAITH! (Hebrews 12:2)
b) You make a CHOICE to praise Him - We can read of many instances in the book of Psalm where the psalmists tell his soul to bless the Lord in the midst of their "storms":
* Psalm 7:17 - I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High!
* Psalm 9:1 & 2 - I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High
* Psalm 16:7 - I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel;My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
* Psalm 18:49 - Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O lord; I will sing praises to Your name.
* Psalm 30:1 -I will exalt You, O Lord, for You lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
* Psalm 31:7 - I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
* Psalm 34:1 - I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
* Psalm 52:9 - I will praise You forever for what you have done; in Your name I will hope, for your name is good, I will praise You in the presence of Your saints.
*Psalm 54:6 - I will sacrifice a freewill offering to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord for it is good,
*Psalm 59:16 - But I will sing of Your strength in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
I can show you more ... but some of my favourites are found in Psalm 103: 1 & 2 and Psalm 104:1. Here we find king David literally telling his soul - "PRAISE THE LORD, O MY SOUL ...!"
‘Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.’ (Psalm 42:5) When we are ‘down’, we need to address and rebuke our soul (mind, emotions and will). We must command ourselves to put our hope (certain assurance that whatever happens, God is in control) and, despite the difficult situation, still praise Him who is our Saviour and our God. Psalm 42 : 5, 11 & 43:5 (NIV)Today are you in the midst of a storm? Is your soul cast down? Like to share with you this powerful song "Praise You In The Storm - by Casting Crowns". May you take comfort from Psalm 121:1 - " I lift my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Keep praising the Lord!