Encourage Yourself


Theologian Charles H. Spurgeon refers to Psalm 42 when he says, “Most of the Lord’s family have sailed on the sea which is here so graphically described.” King David wrote Psalm 42 half as a letter to God begging for His presence, and half as a letter to himself encouraging his own faith. He repeatedly wrote why he’s upset. He repeatedly came to the conclusion that he ought to continue trusting God. This honest conversation with God and himself was King David’s greatest weapon to silence the discouragement that tried to wipe him out.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.
I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.

In verse five, David asks his own soul why it’s so downcast. Spurgeon comments, “As though he were two men, the psalmist talks to himself. His faith reasons with his fears, his hope argues with his sorrows.”

Sometimes, we find ourselves on sailing on David’s sea, when battles on the outside and fear on the inside argue with our hope. This is precisely when we need to have some stored-up hope and courage ready to fire. In Psalm 119:11, we find that King David’s strategy was to hide God’s truth in his heart. What scriptural truths will you hide in your heart? Maybe, “I don’t understand this, but I trust You God.” Or, “God, You brought me this far. You won’t leave me now.” Or maybe your truth will be, “I know my present pain will not even compare to my future victory.”

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