David’s dark song, Psalm 142, concludes with a final request and a bold prediction.
Bring my soul out of prison,
So that I may give thanks to Your name;
The righteous will surround me,
For You will deal bountifully with me.
In 142:5–6, David asked the Lord to change his circumstances: to deal justly with his persecutors and to honor His promise to make David king. But he also recognized the greater need for God to change his state of mind. He asked to be released from the mental, emotional prison of depression. Then his song takes a dramatic turn. It’s unlikely his attitude had changed before completing the hymn. Nevertheless, he decided to change his tune—literally. The last two lines of the psalm use a Hebrew literary device in which the past tense anticipates a future event. It’s like saying, “What the Lord will do in the future is as good as done.” Looking into the future, David declares, “The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me” (142:7).
What faith! David is looking ahead and claiming, by faith, a time of genuine victory. He is declaring that God will again use him and cause others to surround him and look to him for leadership. Why? Because he trusts that God will use these distressing, difficult days to give him maturity and inner strength and stability. He rests in the assurance that healing will come, someday.
Rest assured, God doesn’t use us in the lives of other people because we do some things, but rather because we are something. People do not long to be around one who does a lot of things as much as they want to be around one who is what they admire. It is greatness of character and a life with depth that earns the respect of others. Those who have been honed and buffeted, bruised and melted in the furnace of affliction, and then emerge with emotional stability and inner strength—they are the ones who have a ministry in the lives of others.
So then, if you are in the cave of depression, call upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Hold nothing back. You can trust Him to handle whatever you toss in His direction. Tell Him exactly how your situation is affecting you. If you are able, spell out precisely what you need at this time. Rely on Him. Do not doubt and do not waver. Stand firm.
Remember, you are in His schoolroom. He is the Teacher. He is giving you a lengthy examination in the crucible of suffering, and no one can give a more complete exam than our Lord! I commend this song to all who are undergoing the daily grind of depression today. It is food for your soul in the cave as the storm continues to roar.
Seek help. And don’t give up, my friend. He is preparing you for a unique message and an enviable ministry. Believe it or not, that dark cave of depression which seems endless is part of His divine plan. It was for David. It is for you as well.
From Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.