Bad days happen to all of us. The Lord knew it and this is why the Spirit had James write:
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,” (James 1:2) and not “count it all joy if you fall into various trials”
All too often we handle “bad” days in ways that are not productive and that hurt us. David was a man after God’s own heart… I love him for his humanity. I’ve heard myself saying things like He does in most of this Psalm:
“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed against him’; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:1-6)
See what he says in verse 2? “How long will I take counsel in (seek advice from) my soul?”
I believe that is a part of our problem: we depend on ourselves….on our own souls…our ability to think, feel, make decisions.
He goes on to connect “having sorrow in my soul daily" (day by day – constantly) with "having our enemies exalted over us."
In another Psalm David says something that is very interesting:
“My soul refused to be comforted.” (Psalm 77:2)
Our souls (our will is in there!) can refuse to do what is right!
God was never content with this fact so He has put something in place to help us with our tendency to depend upon souls that are rebellious against us!
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height; to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21)
In this passage Paul prays for us and in that prayer (v16-19) he implores the Holy Spirit to spill through that divider between our spirits (wherein He dwells) and our souls and strengthen our inner man (our souls) for the purpose that Christ may actively dwell in our hearts through faith (dependency upon Him). He prays this so that we would be rooted and grounded in God’s love and the purpose for this is that we would understand that love and the purpose for that is that we would be filled (crammed with…..completely furnished with) God’s completeness. This is because He can do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”.
He goes on to say that God can do this “according to the power that works in us”.
I think that is amazing – that all that power dwells within us. I think it is even more amazing that we can resist it…..by “taking counsel in our souls” to the exclusion of His counsel…and power.
Paul wrote further:
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head: Christ; from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart…” (Ephesians 4:11-18)
In verses11-14 Paul writes that there are some roles in the church that exist for one purpose: to equip every Christian so that the entire church will be built up – to attain its full potential. This is so that we will no longer be like little children caught in the surf “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,”
On verses 15-18 Paul says that we can learn to benefit from allowing Christ to be our head. (One man recently said that the individual members of the body of Christ need Jesus to be their head because the individual members of a body don’t have a brain among them. I’m not sure I completely agree with him but understand why he takes that stance!)
Paul said that when we let Jesus be our head (allow Him to be in control) the whole body does its job and everyone benefits. And that when this happens we will “no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of (our) mind”, we will no longer “have (our) understanding darkened”, we will no longer “be alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart…”
When we seek the counsel of our own souls, we walk like the Gentiles (i.e., like lost people). We have futile (vain) minds, our understanding is darkened and we have a lack of knowing and blind hearts specifically because when we seek the counsel or our own souls….there is no time or energy left to seek God’s counsel….and we basically alienated ourselves from the life of God…..just like Paul talked about.
So, what has God done to help us? He used Paul and others to tell us what we were doing to hurt ourselves.
What can we do instead of seeking the counsel of our souls?
David did two things with his soul that seem significant to me.
1) David commanded his soul to behave.
David asks his soul a question:
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?” (Psalm 42:5a)
Then he give his soul a command:
“Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.” (Psalm 42:5b)
Then he talks to God and tells Him his dilemma and his plan to deal with it:
“O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, and from the heights of Hermon, from the Hill Mizar.” (Psalm 42:6)
David does much the same thing in Psalm 43:5. He asks his own soul a question:
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?”
Then he gives his own soul a command:
“Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”
David speaks to his own soul in Psalm 35:11
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; tor I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”
He gives commands to his own soul in Psalm 103:1-2:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits”
and again in verse 22:
“Bless the LORD, all His works, in all places of His dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!”
and in Psalm 104 in verse1 and in verse 35:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty,” and “May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!”
and in Psalm 116:7 he commands his soul:
“Return to your rest, O my soul, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.”
And then he speaks to the Lord telling us why he can have confidence to speak this way to his own soul:
“For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD In the land of the living.”
2. Besides commanding his soul to behave, David did something else we can do: cry out to God. This is seeking the counsel from Someone better than our own souls.
In Psalm 35:1-3 he says:
“Plead my cause, O LORD, with those who strive with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help. Also draw out the spear, and stop those who pursue me. Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’” (Psalm 35:1-3)
Note that in that previous passage David invited God to not only fight on his behalf but to also speak to David’s soul.
David knew the source of his protection, provision and peace – the Lord. Listen as he speaks about how his soul, under his control, approached his God in Psalm 62:
"Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved. (v. 1-2)
"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God." (v. 5-7)
"God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God. Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; for You render to each one according to his work." (v. 11-12)
In Psalm 107:8-9 David speaks beautifully and plainly about the effect God has on a soul that yields to Him:
"Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
And in the short Psalm 131 he speaks from the standpoint of one who has control over his soul:
“LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever.”
As spiritually alive people we have the ability to take command of our own souls and have them yield to the Lord Jesus Christ. This means that He will have control over our minds, wills and emotions.
This can be scary for Christians that aren’t accustomed to walking after the Spirit but, after all, did we not become Christians by proclaiming that Jesus was our Lord?
“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
Jesus came to be Lord (the Greek word for Lord is “kurios” and this means “Owner”) of us all.
“For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” (Romans 14:9)
We MUST come to the conclusion that no matter how capable we are as individuals, Jesus, the Ruler of the Universe, is more so. Conceding this truth, the next step is to actually turn our entire selves: spirit, soul and body over to the One who paid such a high price for us.
I will close by praying a blessing over you. This blessing is a paraphrase of Psalm121:
I pray that you will lift up your eyes to the hills because your help comes from higher than you and me. Your help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved – He will protect you. He who keeps you will not slumber – He never sleeps. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper – He can do this thing. He does not need your help, just your cooperation. The LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. You will be kept safe. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore. Amen.