This psalm is a cry of someone who feels utterly alone. Rejected by all and forsaken by God. Yet he continues to call out to God and to ask for restoration.
When I first started reading this psalm I was reminded of all the psalms that David wrote where he poured his troubles out to God. But David’s psalms always ended with his heart being comforted, even if his problem wasn’t solved yet. This psalmist doesn’t find comfort, yet. He does, however, continue to call out to God.
Another glaring difference between David’s psalms and this one is that this psalmist blames God for his troubles. “You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and You overwhelm me with all your waves. You have caused my companions to shun me; You have made me a horror to them” (verses 6-8). “Your wrath has swept over me; Your dreadful assaults destroy me. They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together. You have caused my beloved and my friends to shun me; my companions have become darkness” (verses 16-18). And it appears that he has been suffering this way for most of his life. “Afflicted and close to death from my youth up” (verse 15a).
With ALL this, he STILL calls out to God for help. He has not stopped hoping that God is able to restore him to health. He has heard the stories of God’s love and he holds fast to the hope that he will be a recipient of it too. “Now would be nice.”
I am curious about the fact that he misses another element of David’s psalms; the element of guilt. David freely admits that his actions/sins have brought about at least a part of his troubles. And he repents of these sins. Our psalmist is laying all his troubles at God’s feet. Not once has he said that he has earned God’s wrath. Not once has he acknowledged or repented of his sins. Without repentance there can be no restoration.
Is it possible that this man’s ‘troubles’ are depression? In my darkest hours of depression I felt a LOT like this man. I don’t think I blamed God for my situation but I felt abandoned; beyond the reach of everyone around me. I knew in some part of my heart that they were reaching out to me but I couldn’t reach back. My ‘mask’ kept us apart. That ‘mask’ would fall when I reached out to God, but in the darkest times, I didn’t feel Him reaching back either. Like the psalmist though, I didn’t stop reaching out to Him.
I honestly can’t put my finger on exactly what changed or when, but one day I finally ‘saw’ His hand piercing my darkness and I was able to grab it. HE parted the deep fog that had surrounded my soul and pulled me from it. It may have been that I acknowledged and released some sin I was clinging to or that I finally LOOKED for His hand instead of wallowing in sorrow because I felt its absence. “HE lifted me out of the pit of despair” (Psalm 40:2a). This is my song too!
I trust God that He met this psalmist and lifted him out too. I also trust Him to lift each and every person who continues to seek Him out of their pit also. No matter how hard, no matter how long, KEEP calling out to Him! He HEARS YOU!!! He knows EXACTLY what you are going through. He wants to pull you free from it. He is just waiting for you to notice His hand reaching out.
Father God, THANK YOU that You NEVER abandon Your children. I may feel separated at times but it is NOT because You have wandered off or are too busy to notice my troubles. It is because I have taken my eyes off YOU. Help me remember that lesson when there is a ‘next time’. I’m sorry to admit that I know there will be a ‘next time’ when I will fail BUT I have learned lessons along the way which, when remembered, will help me through that ‘next time’. And You will still love me through it! THANK YOU FOR THAT PROMISE!!!
I pray for my brothers and sisters who are in the middle of one of these valleys. Help them Lord to turn loose of whatever it is that has their eyes diverted so they can see Your hand reaching out to them too. I KNOW You hear them too!