A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling fairly average. You know, one of those days when you wake up with too much on your mind? While reading Psalms, I was again captivated by the ease of how David expressed his feelings, how he articulated his thoughts.
Then I reflected on the way I felt and realised I fall well short of suitably expressive words. I recognised I dwell very little on expressing my various feelings. I just get through them and move on. Thankfully for us, David took the time, like an artist chiselling fine sculptures, to craft images of his mind about times and situations in his life. If you read certain Psalms attentively, you'll notice he was his own psychologist. He would question himself about why he felt a particular way, what was on his mind, the cause of those thoughts and feelings, and where God featured in them.
Psalm 43 is a great example. David is preoccupied with thoughts of his enemies. David had three types of enemies. Those with swords, those with words, and those with handshakes of false friendship.
After musing on a scenario for too long, he pulls himself together, challenging his oppressive thoughts. With God as his king, he wonders to himself as to why he was down at all.
"Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" He asks himself.
At times we are the same. We wake up with a downward look. Oppressive thoughts are already growing in our minds. When we entertain them, they spread swiftly like an accelerated garden ground cover creeping over what life we have left, blocking out the light.
Sometimes we get asked by others, "are you okay today? You look preoccupied." We have things on our minds. Occasionally we'll enter a conversation about them, and other times we'll just keep our thoughts to ourselves. I'm one of those guys who thinks within. I know I won't be down for long as I move my thoughts around to the opposite hemisphere until the sun shines on them. I'm right then.
Don't worry, I think about causes deeply. But I don't tend to stay down for too long. I don't like being down there. For a start, I have people relying on me, which adds an element of responsibility. Furthermore, God is expecting me to overcome negative thoughts, which adds accountability. But there is an acutely sinister aspect. When we spend time thinking dark thoughts, tentacles of much darker thoughts grab hold pulling us deeper into the black cave, until we have lost our day. Some people allow themselves to be held under for a week, a month or a lifetime.
Like David and the rest of the world, I want to know what is upsetting me. The Psalm goes on as David ponders over the root cause "...and why art thou disquieted within me?" He realises his downcast spirit was due to him allowing his mental enemy too much influence in his thoughts, overpowering his faith, if only for a short while.
He wakes from his unreality, returning to the foundation of his life, his hope in God Almighty. ": for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
David's meditations were healthy because he always disputed his burdens. By doing that, he resolved his issues, ever giving God the glory.
I don't think we'll ever know why David thought it necessary to write down his thoughts so systematically as if counselling himself. Who amongst us does that? Who writes in great methodical detail, step by step, on things of such a personal nature?
But we're grateful as some of those Psalms mirror our own thoughts.
I would have loved to talk to David. Just the two of us sitting under a tree together with David doing the talking and me in awesome silence.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, I can't figure out why David wrote so specifically of his inner moments. Please help me understand my own thoughts and feelings to ensure you win every day and week of my life.
Photo by Kasturi Roy