Emotional Anguish in the Psalms Gives Us Hope

Always the Fight Ministries: Displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse. (c)2019Nancy Virden

We hear emotional anguish in modern songwriting. Most often centered on love or loss of it, today’s pains of the heart make for moving lyrics.

This was true in ancient times as well. Songs recorded in the Bible are sometimes called Psalms. The book named Psalms has 150 songs, many written by an ancient king both before and during his reign. 

David was a young man, about 17 years old when he burst on the public scene. His fifteen seconds of fame turned into a lifetime and beyond. A songwriter at heart, none of the abuses and difficulties in his future shut down his love for creating music. He wrote of sorrow, love, depression, and hope. 

Once he was chosen as the next king of his nation, the first king tried to kill him. David lived as a fugitive outdoors and in caves for about four years. Songs he wrote at that time are filled with anguish and a strong faith that filled him with hope. 

Psalm 31:9-16 “Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.”

Does this experience seem familiar? To me, it resembles depression and a point of view that nothing has improved over a long period. This can lead to despair. 

David’s song continues: 

“Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I am a dread to my friends– those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life.”

The idea of being murdered by his enemies was a well-founded fear for David. Saul actually was trying to kill him! Anyone who has struggled with depression can relate to a sense of abandonment by family and friends. That is often depression talking. For David though, it was real. Family and friends were afraid to support him because they too could be killed. 

Despite this, David sang:

“But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.”

Depression has been my “enemy” in the past as has suicidal ideation. I say this because they robbed my life of joy, and ultimately threatened my survival. While in the deepest section of the deepest and darkest pit, I remembered God. This did not make me feel happy and hopeful immediately, however, my trust did not waver in that I knew he is good and that everything would come together according to his love. 

Songwriting is not my fortitude. If I could, I would write soaring melodies about the love of God that goes well beyond our emotions. His love is action-packed, passionate and precise. He never fails, never leaves, and never quits. 

No wonder David sang as his heart broke. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 31:7,8

I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.


NOTE:  I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!


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