Talk to Yourself
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.
Psalm 42: 5, 11 ESV
“Grammy, who are you talking to?” Our little grandson, sitting in the back seat of the car while I drove to the store caught me. I talk to myself. A lot. I take advantage of solo car rides to practice teaching a Bible study or workshop. I review conversations while cleaning. Instead of thinking through tasks and lists, I speak out loud the plan for the day. My husband sometimes laughs and says, “Who are you talking to and what are you talking about now?” I’m embarrassed, yet I continue to do it!
I didn’t want my grandson to think he had a crazy grandmother, so I said, “I’m praying for you, Benjamin. Whenever you see my lips moving and can’t hear any words, I’m praying for each of you kids.”
Fortunately, I was praying at that moment. I’m sure when people see me walking and talking to myself, they shake their heads in pity. Yet, King David leads the way in such a practice!
Not only does David talk to himself in Psalm 62, we hear him exhorting his soul in another Psalm thought to be written in the context of Absalom’s betrayal. Twice he asks himself:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Psalm 43:5a ESV
Then twice he counsels his soul:
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.
Psalm 43:5b ESV
I love that in Psalm 43 he repeats these words to himself. Here is a teaching moment on how to walk a steady path in the midst of a shifting world. Instead of listening to his own fearful thoughts, he instructs his soul to hope in God, my salvation and my God.
Note how David personalizes God. God is not unknowable. He is MY God, MY salvation. That’s personal. David’s personal relationship and experience with God fuels his trust. But just think! We are on the other side of the Cross, Jesus bought our salvation, and our intimacy with Him fuels our trust.
Practicing such trust requires discipline. Often I tell myself all the reasons I have for fear, why I need to take control of a situation, how someone else should behave or change. It takes a choice on my part to instead, instruct my soul to revel in the salvation that Jesus gives, to lean into the love that the Cross represents, to trust God with each of these circumstances. Making such a choice sometimes feels like trying to pull a train backwards up a mountain. My sinful thoughts are so ingrained that sometimes I do not even recognize I have chosen to worry, fear, criticize or judge instead of fixing my mind on God, my Rock, Rest, Rescue and Refuge.
That’s why this passage is so practical. David admits he is downcast. He is depressed. He asks his soul why. He wants to identify the root cause of his sadness. When he does, he chooses to remind himself of why his mind has been fixed on the wrong rock. Instead of feeding his depression and sorrow with his own thoughts, perhaps even facts about his situation, he commands his soul to lean on the Rock, and that is where he will find rest. He repeatedly reminds his soul of God’s past faithfulness that leads to present trust, that God is still his Rock, Rest, Rescue and Refuge.
Watch the progression of David’s peace as he repeatedly reminds himself of God’s gracious protection and tells his soul to trust in God alone:
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
Psalm 62:2 ESV
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
Psalm 62:6 ESV
Once more, David takes us into his inner wrestling to trust God. His heart wants to trust Him. He trusts God his Rock, but still there is reason for worry: I shall not be greatly shaken. Or is there cause for continued worry? David’s repetition of God as his Rock leads him to conclude that no matter how severe the shifting beneath his feet, he will not be shaken. That’s peace.
Oh Lord, we want to experience this peace, the peace that comes from leaning on the Rock, our salvation, Jesus. When we wander and we are shaken by the shifting beneath our feet, pull us back with reminders of your faithful love.