Bread – Pits

February 8, 2016


Psalm 6

“O Lord, rebuke me not in Your anger, nor discipline me in Your wrath.  Be gracious unto me, O Lord, for I am languishing…My soul also is greatly troubled.  But You, O Lord – how long?”  Ps. 6:1-3

As I write this, it is Monday morning, the depressing morning to a depressing week.  Why is it depressing? I don’t know … it just feels that it is starting that way.  I had trouble getting out of bed.  I had trouble getting started.  I had trouble praying.  I had trouble opening my Bible.  I am even having trouble writing this.

As David write this Psalm, one gets the distinct impression that it is Monday morning, he has a lot to do, and he is depressed.  For some reason (perhaps many reasons), he is in the pits.

And down in the pit, you look around and what do you see around you?  Nothing but walls.  You don’t necessarily know how you got down there, but there you are.  You are inclined to want to blame someone for throwing you down there, but you know in your heart that it was really you who climbed down there deliberately or fell down there because you weren’t paying attention or were attracted down there because you thought you saw something shiny and attractive at the bottom.

And when you are in the pits, when you are in the throes of depression, where is God?

One characteristic feeling we all have in these circumstances is that God is nowhere to be found.  That can be, in our minds eye, for all kinds of reasons.  Perhaps He is mad at us for ignoring His commandments and climbing down into the well.  Perhaps He is mad at us because we continue to live in and practice a life of sin as opposed to obedience.  Perhaps He is angry at us because we have chosen to go our own way and have not spent time with Him.  We know He hates sin and, therefore, maybe He hates us.

All of these thoughts were likely going through David’s mind while he sat in the pit.  That is why He says to God “rebuke me not in Your anger, nor discipline me with Your wrath.”  Note that he assumes that God is angry with him, because (a) if he were God, he would be mad at himself and (b) it makes for a ready explanation for why he is in the pit, is stuck in the pit, and can’t get out of the pit.

“I fell in the pit because God is angry with me.”  “I am stuck in the pit because God is angry with me.”  “I can’t get out of the pit because God is angry with me.”  A convenient explanation which makes us the victim.  No wonder we might well say, “don’t be mad, God,” “don’t rebuke me, God,” “don’t discipline me, God.”  If we can get above our own depression, self-righteousness, and anger at God, we might even follow the preceding statements with “please.”

How do we know David is depressed, that he is in the pits?  Because he says so … he says that he is “languishing.”  The NASB translates this “pining away.”

So, we may find ourselves in the pits today.  Perhaps it is money which caused it.  Perhaps it is love.  Perhaps it is an unfair and ungrateful world, spouse, children, boss, co-workers, employees, clients, suppliers, customers, friends, stock market, etc., which caused it.  The cause is in a real sense irrelevant when it happens to us, because we are there and we are stuck.

So God is apparently appearing to ignore David (from David’s perspective) and he is wallowing in depression … what does he do to get out of the pits?

The answer is actually built into the quoted verses.  While he is asking the Lord not to rebuke him, complaining about his depression, asking God to heal him, and asking the Lord why He is taking so long, what is David doing which is improving his life, although he may not know it.

He is addressing God.  He is talking to God.  He is complaining to God.  He is asking God.  He is arguing with God.  He is so depressed that he knows nowhere else to turn, so he turns to God.

One of the commentators on this passage which I read points out that the word translated to “Lord” in the first three verses of this Psalm is the word “Jehovah,” which is a name of God suggesting Redeemer or Deliverer.

So, in a very real sense, although David senses that God is not present because He is, in David’s mind, angry with him, David still addresses Him in the role which He needs to play in David’s life right then, “Deliverer.”

Over what time period does this take place?  When we read these sentences together, the tendency is to think of the events in the Psalm as coming pretty close together.  David feels like he is in the pits, he sort of blames God but calls on his Deliverer anyway, and the Deliverer shows up (immediately).  But is this true?

There is nothing in the Psalm to indicate how quickly these events occurred.  The prayer “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing” could have been made one time over the time span of 10 minutes, or 1,000 times over the span of ten years.

I would suggest that David was actually in the pits for quite a while.  The reason I say that is this – “But You, O Lord – how long?”  Ps. 6:3b  If God was answering David fast, why would David feel the need to groan “how long.”

The fact is that it doesn’t matter in one sense and matters a lot in another.  To a depressed person, whether you are in the pits 10 minutes or ten years, it feels like an eternity.  So it is entirely possible that David was only depressed for ten minutes before he yells out “Lord, how long?”  So, to David in his depressed state, it doesn’t matter how long it is.  However, where it does matter is in the area of perseverance.  How long would David keep going with his entreaty to God the Deliverer before he gave up, thinking that God would never show up?

I think the answer to that question is whether David did or did not have a real relationship with God.  If his relationship is one of convenience, then when God didn’t show up, David would have stopped calling upon Him pretty quickly.  However, David has created a relationship with God where he will talk to God whether he is mad with God or not, whether God is mad with him or not, whether he is in the pits or on a mountaintop, whether he has committed great sin or committed good works.  He is going to reach out to God, his Deliverer, regardless.

This week, when you are in the pits, how quickly will you give up calling upon the name of God in order to solve the problem yourself?

I suspect the answer to that question is tied to the larger answer to the larger question … who do you say He is, really?  A helper in time of trouble, an unreliable “go to” person who is sometimes there and sometimes not, a companion, a friend … or Creator, Redeemer, Savior?

__________

© 2016 GBF  All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

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