Following David’s Example
I have always personified “the sorrows of hell.” Specifically, I have always treated these “sorrows” as spirit beings. When David says he was “compassed about,” and when I say I feel “surrounded,” I mean it literally. It’s as if a company, a band, a gang of demons has surrounded me. In the New International Version of the Bible, Psalm 18:5 reads, “The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.”
I know that every time I experience depression, despair, or panic, it is not the result of a spiritual attack or the presence of demons, but the purpose of this segment of the book is to point out that it could be and what our response should be. I will address other ways that I deal with depression in later chapters.
I think David’s example, his response to the sorrows of hell, is a good one to follow. The Bible portrays David as a worshipper as he wrote many of the psalms. According to one Bible scholar, “the biggest category of psalms” were “songs” and “melodies.” The same scholar said that “The Hebrew word for psalm, mizmôr, means ‘melody.’” (Kranz, 2014)
We also know that when the ark of the covenant was brought to Jerusalem that David, even though he was the king, worshipped so powerfully that he danced out of his clothes:
“The Ark Brought to Jerusalem
When those carrying the ark of the LORD had advanced six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened calf. And David, wearing a linen ephod, danced with all his might before the LORD, while he and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and the sounding of the ram’s horn…” Berean Study Bible
If we tie what we know about David as a worshipper to what his response was when he experienced the “sorrows of hell,” we get something that we can use when we experience similar feelings:
I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me; In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
Psa 18:1-6 [[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: And he said,]] I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
Psa 116:1-5 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
I used to call the onset of serious episodes of depression “the swirlies.” The image is that of water in a toilet as it is being flushed. It represented my emotions, just going further and further down. Another appropriate analogy would be a whirlpool in the ocean that sucks everything down near its path. When “the swirlies” started, I often felt helpless to keep my whole life from seemingly being sucked down in the swirl.
From David’s example, we see that when he was in emotional “distress,” he called upon the Lord, sang praise, offered gratitude to the Lord, sang out the Lord’s positive attributes, and by faith, was reassured that the Lord heard him. David in 2 Sam 22:17-20 says:
“He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters; He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
David said that God responded from above and drew him “out of many waters.” I can’t find in Scripture where David was ever in danger of drowning. So perhaps David envisioned emotional distress similar to the way that I have, as overwhelming waters, or “the swirlies.” When “the swirlies” showed up in David’s life, he called upon God, worshipped God, was grateful to God, and God sent a mighty deliverance.
2 Chro 20:22 is another example of using praise to stop the enemy’s attack: “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.”
I have seen these Scriptures. I have heard many sermons on the subject of praise as a weapon. I am a professional singer. I have sung in stadiums and arenas for national sporting events, sang on television, and in touring shows. I have written and recorded praise songs and sung on praise teams. However, when “the swirlies” hit, it is often the hardest thing in the world to combat them with praise. It is something that I still struggle with.
I can testify, though, that every time I can make myself respond the way David did to his “distress” and “many waters,” that it ALWAYS works. Sometimes if I can just say “JESUS,” it works! Perhaps you struggle with your spiritual response too. Keep working at it. God loves you and is ready to help when you call on Him and worship Him in faith.
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