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An Upward Look by a Downcast Soul

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
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November 8, 2021 7:00 am

An Upward Look by a Downcast Soul

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 8, 2021 7:00 am

What does the Bible have to say about depression, and what exactly does it mean to put your hope in God? Today on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll begin our study of Psalm 42 and 43, where the psalmist feels downcast, oppressed, disturbed, depressed and rejected. Where can he turn for help and where is God in all of this mess? In this message we’ll learn how we as believers can find light in the middle of life’s most overwhelming storms.

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Where is your God when you need him today on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce, the author of Psalms 42 and 43 is being taunted and questioned by those around him as he battles with spiritual depression.

What does spiritual depression look like and how can we as believers find hope to overcome in times of darkness and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically in Psalms 42 and 43. This almost feels downcast, depressed, disturbed, depressed and rejected where Kenny turn for help and where is God in all of this mess. If you have your Bible turn to the Psalms 42 and 43. Let's find out together. It's hard for me to imagine the book on depression would be popular about a 1965 Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones of Westminster Chapel in London, wrote a book called spiritual depression is causes and cure which proved to be one of the most popular and widely circulated books he ever wrote the only reason I can think of why it is popular and certainly not the subject itself by the fact that Christians in all walks of life.

At one time or another.

Experience depression, and therefore looking for a book that deals with that and offers suggestion how it can be cured were all depressed at times we get down in the dumps we sing the blues and we feel that God has forgotten us from times we prayed and seen that he listens problems that we have don't seem to be answered and what we experience is something that others have known before us the great mistakes used to refer to that experience. Those times in life dark night of the soul, not only to experience such times, we also find them puzzling because when we think about that we can understand why in the world, God should elect times like that come into our lives. We pray we ask it we don't always receive answers, and we think in the back of our minds because were Christians think should really be going well. Take a clue from Emma Baumbach's book of life is a bowl of cherries. Why am I living in the pits and we find that to be true. Well I'm sure you felt that way.

Psalms 42 and 43 deal with this and I suppose the same facts that have made Martin Lloyd Jones book on depression so popular, widely circulated and well. Randall also made these two Psalms Psalms 42 and 43. Among the most frequently read and sought after Psalms in the Psalter. We are naturally inclined to turn to us all that asked very honestly and forthrightly. Why are you so downcast all my soul because of a writer of sacred Scripture, inspired by the Holy Spirit could ask a question like that. Well, that it must be all right for us to ask it to and were encouraged when we find the writer going on to say put your trust in God.

For I shall yet praise him say well that's his experience and will probably be our experience to now at this point in our study through the Psalms, we come to a new book of the Psalms that is the second section 1st section occupies Psalms 1 through 41 and then be getting here.

Psalm 42 through Psalm 72.

We have the second section, and as we move into the second section, there are a number of changes that are noticeable.

One is the variety of authors of the songs and come in at this point. The first book of the Psalter. Almost all of the Psalms are by David and all of the Psalms that our names are by David a couple that have no names of all the first two Psalms are introductory, they may have been my David. They don't have his name with them and then there are two others that don't have any names been altogether 37 Psalms section of the book of Psalms, or by David.

Now we come into the second book we find a collection there are Psalms, hereby David as well. Quite a few 18 but in addition one is assigned an asset for another to Solomon and seven or perhaps eight.

If you assume that Psalm 43 is written by the same author Psalm 42 are assigned to the sons of Cora and then there are a few that have no names with were also going to find more Psalms of assets and David and the sons of Cora as well as another by Solomon and a few other authors later on in our study Psalm 42 Psalm 43 are the first of a group by these authors, sons of Cora two groupings of those Psalms here on the section that we come to now and a second one.

The begins with Psalm 84 and continues to Psalm 88, with the exception of Psalm 86.

So were entering into the largest collection of Psalms that are written by this other group of authors. That's interesting to reflect on just a little bit because we want to know who these people were. They were Levites as priests, and they were descendents to call half it was Cora's father, who was descended from Levi and they were employed in the Temple music. Interesting thing is this. When the Israelites were wandering in the desert which they get their name led a rebellion of 250 community leaders against Moses. The result of that, he was judged not only was he judge the other leaders were charged and all her households were judged to be read that account 16 chapter numbers at a rather horrifying thing. The people are instructed to get away from the people who had led the rebellion stand away from their tents says God because I'm going to destroy them and the people did and the earth opened up and swallowed them all a terrible story for some reason the sons of court were spared would seem judging from their later employment that out of gratitude to God for his mercy in sparing them for my judgment. They dedicated themselves to the worship of God in the temple of the composition and the performing of the Temple music in these hymns is a lesson in that right at the beginning is not the lesson of the song, but it's an interesting one.

It tells us that there can be devout children of reprobate fathers as well as reprobate children of the valve fathers and mothers and teaches that no child needs to be kept from serving God because of the sins of his or her parents. If you have had an ungodly ancestry. If you can't look to father or mother who taught you in the ways of the Lord. Perhaps all your background is something that is sinful and of which are ashamed that does not keep you from serving God and serving him wholeheartedly in the sons of Cora were an example of that is another interesting change at this point in the Psalter.

I don't know exactly what to make of it that the names of God changed noticeably regarding that France Dell choose one of the great commentators on the Psalms and is taken time to count this sort of thing. I don't spend time doing that. I blather or other people do it and I can borrow from them according to knowledge and law in the name Jehovah God occurs, 272 times in the name Elohim only occurs 15 times significant balance in the direction of the name Jehovah.

But in the second book of the Psalter to which we come now. Elohim occurs, 164 times in Jehovah 30 times I say I don't know exactly what that means but it's a fact that these two Psalms go together several reasons for that in some Hebrew manuscripts are printed together.

That's one indication other indication is that there's no title beginning of Psalm 43. Sometimes that indicates the second one, followed on immediately from the first there is the refrain. Why are you downcast all my soul and what follows occurs in both Psalms that ties them together but the chief reason why these two Psalms are to be taken together, is that they deal with depression, spiritual depression, deal with its causes. My deal with its cure.

There are a number of causes, but those that were mentioned during the Psalm, or at least sex and that's probably the place that we can when we want to study the subject. Now let me ask where does spiritual depression come from, what are the causes peers with the Psalm suggests the first five in the opening verses is forced absence from the temple of God and therefore from the worship of God. Now that is less of a problem for us today than it was for the ancient Psalm to be separated from the Temple in Jerusalem was far more significant and far more than deprive nation and it would be for us to be deprived from the worship in our own particular congregation because even a good congregation doesn't have the same significance as the temple did in Jerusalem. I get. Nevertheless, that same sort of feeling can come over us when were separated from our friends will know from the Psalm who the actual author. Once that is the specific individual sons of Cora, simply refers to a group, but we do know something about.

He tells us what happened. He was separated from Jerusalem being taken or having found it necessary to travel to the land of the Jordan, the Heights of Herman from Mount. These are verse six we don't know where mount these audience members are his armies little mountain that could be anywhere. But we do know where mount Herman is in the land of the Jordan refers to the area north of Jerusalem and somewhat to the east of our side of the Jordan very far north.

One of the commentators have suggested somebody who knows the holy land. Well, that if if the captive were being taken from Jerusalem in the direction of Babylon. The passage would be north by exactly that route and he would probably be able to catch a glimpse the last glimpse of the mountains of his homeland from that area. Perhaps you have a description here of somebody being taken off or having to travel off to a foreign country and this is the last glimpse he has back from the mountaintop of these are toward his home, where the temple is to be found say that evokes real walking sorrow in his parties box where he would like to be and so he finds his soul cast down. Because of that for separation is another dimension of this alienation.

Remember now that the sons of Cora were engaged in the temple worship performed 10 composed songs of her song what we know is Psalms and perhaps other music and songs as well.

If he's being taken away from Jerusalem. That means he's being separated from his occupation but is from his work sort of thing in which he found his satisfaction and his meaning in life, you may very well have experienced that sort of thing, because it's quite common it may have happened if you've lost a job board yourself and do your work. Consider that to be meaningful, you got it. Large sense of satisfaction and meaning to life from that and then suddenly it's taken away from you, and you say one of my doing here what am I good for anyhow nice people are fire.

They feel that they get too old and I have to retire and they say I'm to use for me anymore.

It's the same sort of thing and it certainly can lead to the kind depression. David or this young man hand. The second thing he mentions he mentions it twice in verses three in town and that's the taunt of unbelievers in this distant land separated from his friends. Meaningful work in the temple of God. The unbelievers are surrounded and made fun of him, saying, where is your God is must a part of a lot because he repeats it understand that that is not a statement made by an atheist or an really atheist of the ancient world first real atheism came the world with Greek philosophy. People believe in God, not the God of Jews necessarily, but they believe in God, saying, where is God is no God.

It isn't that the essence of the talk, but they're really saying is, where is your God when you need him. God was worth anything he would answer your cries and bring you back to Jerusalem. Where is he now is because real depression.

You and I have often asked that kind of question where indeed is God when we need him.

Where is God when I'm in a far country, and I'm separated from my usual work when I'm taunted by enemies.

Why doesn't God seem to hear my cries. Why doesn't he intervene to change my circle. That's the kind of question one time or another thing that bothers them is what we find in verse four and this is the memory better day's now memory functions in different ways.

Later on in the Psalm are going to find functioning in a good way of proper ways he thinks about God see here it's functioning in a destructive way.

He's thinking about the things that he used to enjoy and can no longer enjoy because he is in Jerusalem is remembering is that great times used to have in the temple.

I used to go with the multitude leading the procession of the house of God with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive as hard for us to imagine the full extent of this exuberance kind of joy and worship of the ancient Hebrews had CS Lewis captures a bit of it in his classic little book reflection on the Psalm there is a chapter in there called the fair beauty of the Lord in the cause and an appetite for God almost a physical thing sort of language you find in the song man is talking about tasting God thirsting for God painting for God was as I was almost literally true of ancient Hebrews requote some of the verses he puts together to explain what it was like all that cheerful spontaneity of a natural and even the physical desire was theirs was a shocking they were glad they rejoiced song they sing. Bring the tambourine and the Mary Hartman the lid were going to sing merrily and make a cheerful noise noise. You might well say music is not enough that everyone even the benighted Gentiles clap their hands, clashing cymbals not only welcome but loud and dances to the sort of thing you find when you go through the Psalms, verses like that together, our services don't have quite the same exuberance that we come very close, especially with Robert Carr within on the organ in the choir.

Jamal on the trumpet, Westminster brass gets even louder.

We have the PCR take as we have drums as well.

Well I should say our service doesn't come close think that we had that sort of thing.

And here's a man who remembers that and says all the good days when I used to be able to do that some of our members of all depression by being deprived from the kind of things I've enjoyed your class.

They sometimes are shut up in a nursing home in the can get out anymore. Secondly fall hospital operations. Sometimes a Google why I meet people who moved away from here all over the world and they remember the wonderful times and worship God here attends church. I think it probably was even more intense the case of this man as his memory goes back to the good days which he thinks is not going to see again or may not see again. He finds himself being depressed by memory mentioned before thing in verse seven. The overwhelming trials of life. He refers to them as waves and breakers may days in the mountain country that he's camped along with those movies with by a mountain broken here you have the headwaters of the Jordan or some other river tumbling down over the rocks and sitting there watching this under other circumstances, he might be charmed by the scene. He might say is wonderfully beautiful running block in the present sound of the water tumbling over the box, but you're safe. These things are weighing on him and things that would normally lift his spirits actually depressed because he looks at those tumbling riblets and he says that's just like all the troubles that are breaking on my head all your ways and breakers come crashing over what he says he thinks back on his misfortune.

Verse nine he mentioned something else. These crying out to God because he senses that God forgotten, and he's been asking God to do something regarding as an honored God's not acting quickly to help them.

Verse nine reminds us of what Jesus cried from across my God, my God, why have you forsaken me that Jesus didn't take it from here. He took it from the first verse of Psalm 22.

That's the kind of thing you have to say. When you're in a state of depression like that you feel that God is abandoned you completely one of your complaints is that he doesn't intervene, doesn't intervene quickly answer you and your need. Well we have that in some 42 and 43 and you find something else. He's being attacked by ungodly and wicked people there. Probably the same people who were taunting him earlier, say where is your God, but as the other section we learn that not only were they making fun of them. They were I can actually attacking him unjustly because what he calls for here is God the intervene and vindicate him is to show that he is right against the slanders that are being raised. Now it's not unusual for people who are trying to live for Jesus Christ to experience unjust slander of this sort. The devil will certainly store it doesn't even require the devil. We are not of this world and the world will hate those who try to live like Christ Jesus himself said that you said you are not of this world, even as I am not of the world because you're not of the world. That's why the world hates you in this world you will have tribulation is what Jesus said so it's not unusual to experience that sometimes when we experience it to be really cast out the causes of depression that the Psalm describes. I suppose we could add other things to it and Martyn Lloyd Jones book that I mentioned earlier, he names in them or of other things, listing numbers, temperament, for example on everybody is a like some people are naturally buoyant. I wish I knew more of other people get easily depressed. I know far too many somebody's going to say you're much too much like that yourself, especially my wife Ashley on Sunday nights.

I'm tired but temperaments differ, and Martyn Lloyd Jones mentions that physical conditions NRM we can be affected by ill health. Not necessarily a spiritual thing that gets us down with weight we just don't feel good and I can weigh upon us, especially if were inclined in that direction sometimes is a down reaction after a great blessing to find an example that Elijah is great victory on Mount caramel. He is such a letdown after the tremendous spiritual victory that is out of the desert feeling sorry for himself. He thinks that he's the only one left.

Elijah, the great prophet.

I'm the only one left of center seeking my life to take it away. Sometimes you feel like that that's the cause and course of the attacks of Satan.

Martyn Lloyd Jones mentions that simple unbelief. We don't trust God and we don't trust God experience depression and I suppose you could add other things to that.

How about a great disappointment in life or some personal failure something you tried to do and you just blew it. You could've done it, but you didn't and you blew it, you find that depressing or how about the burden of simply getting old. I guess the list is endless. We could go on and on. But enough about that. Only five of the Psalm is not only a description of causes of depression. We also find approach to cure. That's the point at which we want and what the psalmist talks about here is so different about the world knowledge about the world is what gets depressed. It tries to some other experience. Quite often, divorce and remarriage is something some people try to pick me up. They think excessive entertainment and all its not have a good time or frequent vacations. Let's change the scenery. Some people pop pills. Other people are on habit-forming drugs seen in family ties where Mallory Alex sister describing her depression. Jesus will I get down I go shopping. And a lot of people do that. I got by new dress for my auto and I think that'll pick them up well securable to cure only for a time, all those things are basically effective know what is it that the psalmist does well he does three things and you see it in that repeated refrain and suggest if you have it memorized Psalms of all that this is a good verse to memorize Rapp you know Psalm 13 and maybe Psalm 100 some of those people now and often quote but the magazine can only handle a verse try this one. Why are you downcast of my soul.

Why so disturbed within me. Put your hope in God. For I will yet praise him, my Savior, my God. Other three things and that one should remember the first of all, the psalmist takes himself in hand. What I mean by that is that he doesn't get into depression or self-pity. Rather, he confronts it and he wrestles with it in order to come out on top.

He reminds himself of what he really knows and he finds that there are no reasons were being cast down. There is strong as reasons for being exalted in God, Savior, I want my Jones makes an awful lot of this in the book I just mentioned. The first chapter introductory way. He goes over these various causes of depression. Then when he gets to the end, he begins to suggest a solution that is going to develop further on in the book he says the very first thing is talking to ourselves, rather than allowing ourselves to talk to us because at the very heart of the solution in the matter that explains what he means. He says you know when you get down the way you feel can dictate your thinking and so you begin to think in a screwy way.

I said, you have to change that around and you have to begin to think in order to control your feelings, the great principal Christians need to learn that especially today because our culture_feeling type cultures always telling you what and when we don't feel that we think something is wrong. We have to do is think good person.

We think that the feelings will all that's what you have to do is what what Joe says you have to take yourself in hand. You have to address yourself preach to yourself question yourself To say to yourself, why are you cast out what business do you have you been disquieted.

You who know God yet to turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exert yourself and save yourself now in God instead of muttering around in this depressed way the great step forward in some of our Christian lives, and we just learn to do that sort proud another one of the commentators says this is the struggle between the spirit of faith in the spirit of dejection between the higher nature of the lower nature between the spirit of the flesh. And that's exactly what it is that's the first thing the important thing get in wrestle with.

Think it through. The second thing is that he challenges himself to do what should be done. That is what he should do is what is hope in God, so that's what he tells himself the daily things that throw much to be doing instead of feeling sorry for yourself but your hope in God magnify hope in anything else. Nothing in the world is going to give you any lasting hope everything in the world going to pass away. This is a sinful failing world always has been and always will be a pleasure going to find any stability is in God support your hope in him as a democracy of simple sanity for the Christian to do that because it's the only reasonable thing in the third thing he reminds himself of the great certainty. I find great encouragement and that's what he says is this when he hopes in God he finds that is going to be able to trust God to improve things in the future because he says I will get praise and that is the day is coming when God is going to intervene in a way that will enable me to praise him as I did in the past. Why is that, well, it's because God hasn't changed, and therefore his purposes for me about changed either must be in the past. Therefore, it must be in the future. I control on that I may not be experiencing it now is going to come in so I have to live in the hope of that certainty. Further down the road depression.

Remember that you say that this is it is a sensible reason why it's all Pollyanna kind of approaches nothing to be oppressed by something to be depressed about. You are depressed and explain exactly why you're depressed to see the argument transcends that it says yes of course those things are there listening to come in your life. God is allowed them to call me must have a purpose, even if we don't know what it is that is in the end of the matter. Time is coming when you're going to be praising him again to put your hope in God and live in the expectation what is going to do.

I find that to be of great personal health plan. I go through difficult times here at 10th church. I say well going through difficult times now, but God has blessed us in the past hasn't changed going to bless us again in the future is always going intervene and so I put my hope in him on you.

Find multiple examples of exactly that in Scripture people to God through difficult times, but have lived through them and come to praise God again in the M people like Joseph and Moses and Joshua and David and some others I and with the obvious question. Does it work talk about the causes of depression listed some of them and we talked about this QR answer is question is does it work in the answers of the song is as you see it as you make your way through the Psalm account of thought flows how the mood rises through the Psalm have to read carefully what you find that that's what's happening three stanzas, two of them in the first Psalm in the third stanza, Psalm 43 in the first stanza the psalmist remembers the former days of the temple, and he's oppressed by the memory get some down is what is lost stanza truly draws on memory again but this time it's to remember God's goodness see how his move forward in the first stanza. He's troubled by the taunts of his enemies were saying to him, where is your God, he repeats it later in the second stanza, the answer to that the answer he has is that God is with him.

That's where is God is in verse one God is absent in verse nine goddesses walking by the time we come. Psalm 43 to goddesses stronghold and is praying confidently that God will guide him back to the place of worship, and to the joys of former days to put it this way, the first two stanzas.

Psalm 42 laments the third stanza, Psalm 43 become a strong believing prayer and you see in the last stanza as well. In verses three and four but how it works. He's thinking now what God is going to do. God is going to reverse his experience and bring them back to Jerusalem so we can worship again but notice how it builds God is going to bring him back to the holy mountain that is mount Zion to the place where you dwell, that is, to the temple upon Mount Zion. Then I will go to the author of God.

That is the owner standing before the temple on Mount Zion, and finally the last phrase there to God, my joy, my delight is going to be back with God himself as a cure for depression answer is yes. Course the race is not in us. Depression is in God.

Therefore, it's up to us to seek God's face so that hours will not be downcast is exactly what David does pray father, we thank you for the study of depression as we find it here. The Psalm, and we would ask you to apply these truths to awesome blocks of our own understanding and in the way we function in the down times so teach us to become an increasingly strong in our faith and our trust in you, so that will be able to say all times. Why are you downcast of my soul. I so disturbed, but your hope in God because I will get praise him, my Savior, my gun range is. Thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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