Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
For I will yet praise him,
My Savior and my God.
David, the author of this verse, obviously has a very mature view of emotions. He’s able to separate his soul’s feelings from what he, as a person, knows to be true about his Savior.
First, he addresses the downcast state of his soul. He acknowledges that something deep within his being is unsettled, not right. He asks the question of why. Why is he feeling this way deep inside, when his mind knows the truth about the hope that God offers?
I’ve felt this way so many times. I’ve felt unsettled, gloomy, and overall depressed for sometimes three straight days with no concrete reason. I’m sure everyone can identify with feeling this way and wondering why. So what do we do?
Well, David moves on to actually give his soul a command, telling it to put its hope in God. The Cambrige Bible for Schools and Colleges Commentary notes, “In this refrain the truer ‘self’ chides the weaker ‘soul,’ the emotional nature, for its despondency and complaint.”
The next part is interesting, separating his clear mind from his troubled soul even further. He states that, basically no matter what’s going on with his soul’s peaks and valleys, he will keep on praising his Savior and God. This clarity of mind and maturity of emotion is astounding. He refuses to let his emotional state shake the foundation he has built on hoping in and praising God. The forlorn spirit he’s experiencing, he realizes, is fickle, temporary. He doesn’t even know why his heart is so uneasy. So he gives it up. He decides to just praise his God and Savior, and commands his uneasy heart to do the same.
Wouldn’t having this attitude be so helpful? To be able to let go of negative emotions, instead of desperately clinging to them? This is something I’m guilty of doing much too often. When I feel gloominess coming on, especially if I can justify it, I tend to squeeze the life out of it, holding on and desperately trying to feel it fully. What a relief it would be to switch the roles: instead of seeking to be controlled by an unsettled emotion, commanding it to hope in God. Having the maturity to take control of feelings, and hoping in God with your mind and heart, no matter what your soul is going through. That’s a goal of clarity worth striving towards!
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Look forward to new posts every Monday morning!