Archive for August, 2010

Talking to Myself

August 1, 2010

I had been meaning to listen to C. J. Mahaney’s sermon about Psalm 42 and the troubled soul for quite some time.  Probably ever since the video was played for me at Seaside Church.  I finally got around to it last night and I typed notes!  Here they are:

Paul Trip wrote about counseling and the most influential voice in your life.

How faith driven and Christ centered is the conversation that you have with you every day?

No one is more influential in your life than you are because no one talks to you more than you do.  You are in an unending conversation with yourself.

There is a direct relationship between the content of this unending conversation and the state of your soul each and every day.

Psalm 42 gives us the unique opportunity to listen to the internal conversation of the psalmist as he evaluates his own eternal conversation.

  1. The troubled soul:  All is not well within the soul of the author of the Psalm.  Perhaps this is similar to your experience.  Perhaps your soul is in torment.  If you are not prepared for this experience you will be vulnerable to temptation and sin when this experience comes.  This Psalm informs you that the problem is not unique and you are not alone.  The psalms express honest human emotion in the context of faith.  The psalmist is troubled by three experiences
    1. The apparent absence of God.  Verses 1-4 are about the apparent absence of God.  The Psalmist is thirsty for God, yet his soul is downcast and in turmoil.  The problem is that he feels distant from and forgotten by God.  The psalmist desires God’s presence, but feels God’s absence.  Charles Spurgeon seemed to have this problem along with many other people who were very close to God.  Spurgeon said that faith in God was the solution.
    2. The presence of trials.  Verses 6-7.  The waters and breakers are continuous and overwhelming.  Perhaps you have loneliness.  Perhaps it appears to you that everyone else has many friends.  Perhaps you thought that you would be married by now, but lately, you have begun to wonder if it will ever happen.  Perhaps your body has a chronic debilitating illness which makes even the simplest daily tasks to become difficult.  This contributes to the troubling of your soul.
    3. The opposition of men.  Verse 3, 9-10.  “Where is your God?”  The soul can be downcast and troubled because of the opposition of man.  This can be spiritual or supernatural, the demonic, etc. seeking to convince us that God has abandoned us in our trials.  The opposition comes in the form of individual people as well, especially in universities.  Regardless of the humility with which you hold biblical positions, you will know opposition from relatives and teachers and co-workers and that opposition can affect your soul as it affected the soul of the psalmist who was troubled in his soul.

It is particularly noteworthy to look carefully at how the psalmist addressed his troubled soul in response and the God of his soul:

  1. The hopeful soul.  When your soul is troubled and in turmoil, there are two appropriate responses.
    1. Talk to yourself (verses 5, 11).  The psalmist interrupts his soul’s unending conversation.  This makes all of the difference.  Too often this practice is neglected by those who are troubled in their souls.  Spiritual Depression by Martin Loyde Jones is an exposition of psalm 42.  “We must talk to ourselves instead of letting ourselves talk to us…Most of your unhappiness is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself…You have to take yourself in hand.  You must preach to yourself and question yourself…and say to yourself ‘Hope in God!’”  Have you realized this?  Address yourself with the gospel and the promises of God.  Talking truth to yourself is a learned skill that requires practice and effort.  One conversation with yourself will not normally be enough to alter our troubled souls.  You must persevere.  You’ve been listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself for a long time.  The good news tonight is that you can begin to talk to your soul.  If you begin right away, you will reap the effect of the truth sometime in the future.  So the next logical question is “what do I say to my soul?”.  The psalmist provided a starters kit full of content: “hope in God.”  Troubled souls can not be trusted and circumstances often lie to us when they inform us that God is not for us…When we cannot see God’s hand we must trust God’s heart.  You can expand on this content by searching the scriptures for promises applicable to your trials and troubles.
    2. Talk to God.  Verse 8 is a prayer to God, built from knowledge of God from God’s word.  This turns his troubled soul into a hopeful soul.  Troubled souls become hopeful souls as we sing truth to our souls.  God desires that we humbly but boldly remind Him of His promises and rehearse them before Him.  Spurgeon said that “God’s promises were not intended to be thrown away as waste paper…”  The more time that you spend talking to yourself and reminding God of his promises, the less time you will spend listening to yourself and allowing a downcast and a troubled soul.

One cannot read this psalm without remembering our Savior’s uniquely troubled soul as his death on the cross drew near.  The psalmist felt the absence of God, but the Savior actually was abandoned by God and was crushed by God.  The Savior’s soul was uniquely troubled so that the souls of sinners like us would know freedom from the fear of eternal torment of soul in Hell.

Psalm 42:5 (NAS)

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.

Psalm 42:11 (NAS)

11         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.