17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit. — Psalm 34:17-18
Dealing with Depression
by Karla Worley
When David was first running from King Saul because Saul had vowed to kill him, David wrote this psalm. First Samuel 22 tells us that David hid in caves about 20 miles outside Jerusalem, not too far from his home town, Bethlehem. While he was there, “All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader” (1 Samuel 22:2).
Psalm 34 is David’s personal testimony. Imagine him hiding in the caves with all those other distressed and brokenhearted people gathered around him. He begins to tell them what he knows about God from personal experience: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (verse 4). David invites them to listen and turn to God, too. “My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice” (verse 2). “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (verse 8).
Jesus echoes David’s thoughts in Matthew 5:3-4. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him…God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
This was surprising news to the brokenhearted people of David’s time and of Jesus’ time. Surely, they thought, God is close to those who are happy and prosperous. But is God close to me when I am crushed, depressed, or giving up?
This is such good news that God kept saying it to people throughout the Bible.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. (Psalm 23:4)
He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted…to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)
Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
It’s likely to be very good news to you today, or to someone you know who is discouraged or depressed. Just like David’s men, we need this assurance from someone who has cried out to God and who has experienced God’s help and presence in the darkest night. They may not be able to fix our pain, but they can be in it with us. More importantly, they can tell us that God is in it with us. They can encourage us to turn to Him, to taste and see that God is good.
How do you know God is good?
When I’m depressed, when I can’t remember what I know about God, I need to hear what you know. When I can’t feel hopeful, I need to hear why you have hope. When I can’t find God, I need to see that you’re certain He is with me.
- Read Psalm 34, noting all the things David knew about God from experience. What do you know about God by experience? Write down a memory of a time in your life when you were brokenhearted or discouraged. What did you pray about? What did you think about God then and about yourself? How did you see that God was with you and that He is good?
- Who needs to hear this? Practice telling what you know from your own story with friends or with your family. Pray for someone you know who’s depressed. Pray for the opportunity to listen to them, to be present with them and to tell them how you know God is with them.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.