The content of this article comes from the notes I took from our Associate Pastor, Keith Palmer's message on quieting the disquieted soul.
The phone rings at 2:17am. It’s the police. Your son has been involved in a horrific hit and run accident.
Or you discover that someone you loved and trusted has been stealing from you for years. Your spouse turns to you as you settle into bed. He admits to having an affair and tells you he wants out of the marriage.
These represent events in which you or a loved one has been wronged by someone else. You rehearse the events and the pain over and over again in your head. Anxiety doesn’t have to come in the form of another person’s attacks or offenses. Trying times come in many forms. Events may have happened suddenly or have been building up over time. Anxiety and disquietedness suddenly moves into what had previously been occupied by a settled and quiet spirit. Or perhaps you cannot remember the last time you felt peace. Anxious thoughts have been your constant companion as far back as you can remember. No one is immune.
You spend sleepless nights listening to those troubling thoughts. You then decide to talk to God. But still the dialogue in your head continues. Nothing changes. What’s the answer?
I want to be upfront with you about the motivation behind this writing. My intent is to offer biblical counsel on how to quiet the disquieted soul. But that isn’t my primary objective.
First, I want to show you the answer found in scripture. (Emphasis on “answer”) All too often we look for the answer in other areas. Even if we choose not to look for answers, we put a band-aid over the anxiety through various vices. We try and substitute “feel good” avenues to cover up the pain.
Second, I want to show you the answer found in scripture. (Emphasis on “scripture”). I am not referring to token bible verses. Bible bombs seldom hit a specific target. I want to demonstrate to you the depth of even the shortest passages of scripture where you will discover a treasure trove of resources and provision the Lord has made available to us.
Israel’s King David had written a good many of the Psalms. Engrained within the words are gut wrenching, raw and honest emotions laid out for all to see. There are few, if any, pious platitudes. Even so, masks which might be worn are then ripped off as the truth exposes the naked realities of one man’s human condition. The reader soon discovers the persona of the psalmist resembles himself. Struggles we thought were unique to us are universal. They are no respecter of eras or cultures. As Solomon once commented, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
David wrote Psalm 43. We aren’t sure of the circumstances behind this psalm of plea, but some have suggested this was written during a time when his son Absalom was spreading false accusations against his father and trying to have him killed. Absalom wanted to take over the kingdom. Psalm 43 has 5 verses. The 5 verses represent 5 phases of a soul’s journey from disquietedness to quietness.
Verse 1: “Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
David wanted to be vindicated. Vindication means setting the record straight. David wanted the truth of his innocence to be made known. He wanted to see justice served. Can you relate? I can. My vengeful nature rises up to plead my case. I rehearse the wrongs committed against me over and over again in my head. Hurt and anger control me. My focus is on myself.
Verse 1 therefore signifies phase 1 of the journey from a disquieted to a quiet soul: VINDICATION.
Verse 2: “For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
In this verse David is trying to make sense of what’s going on. He is interpreting the matter according to how he feels. We get a glimpse into David’s inner thoughts. In this phase of the journey we begin to ask a lot of why’s. The whys then turn into accusations against God. Have you had those moments when you cry out, “how could you let this happen to me God?”
Verse 2 signifies phase 2: ITERPRETATION.
Verse 3: “Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!”
David is beginning to figure out that his only hope is going to have to come from God. He needs God’s truth to illuminate and enlighten his soul. He realizes he needs intimacy with God and that the only way to experience that is by getting into God’s revealed truth and allow that to bring him to a place of worship. His attitude begins to change. We too should realize that God’s Word is our source of hope and strength. Intimacy with God is the result.
Verse 3 signifies phase 3: ILLUMINATION.
Verse 4: “Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.”
As David’s heart is illuminated by God’s Word and he begins to have intimacy with God, this naturally brings him to a place of worship and adoration of God. Joy replaces anxiety. He realizes that as long as he has God, he has everything. God alone is his salvation. Recall the episode when Jesus and his disciples were on a boat when a storm suddenly arose. Jesus was asleep. The disciples began to fear for their lives. They certainly had a disquieted soul. They woke Jesus and pleaded with Him to save them. He quieted the storm. They had nothing to fear. Jesus was by their side. We need to ask ourselves; are we walking hand in hand with Jesus, the One who calms the storms of life?
Verse 4 signifies phase 4: ADORATION
Verse 5: “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.”
These words aren’t the first time David had written them. He also concludes Psalm 42 with the same words. He is reminding himself of the source of his joy and hope. He is having a conversation with himself. We too must realize that the words we tell ourselves will determine the direction of our life. If the words we tell ourselves come from within a troubled mind fixated on self, then we will continue to have a disquieted soul. But if the words we tell ourselves originate from God’s Words, then we can walk in the assurance of his sovereign control over the circumstances of life.
Verse 5 signifies phase 5: CONVERSATION
Notice how the psalm began. David was listening to himself and then talking to God. Notice how it ends. David was listening to God and then talking to himself. We have learned much from this short psalm. It causes us to ask a few questions.
First, ask yourself; where is my focus? Is it on God or myself?
Second; how am I interpreting the circumstances of life? Am I viewing these events through the lens of my own finite and flawed mind or am I utilizing God’s timeless and infinite truth?
Third; how does God’s Word speak to these particular events and circumstances? This will involve reading, researching, and studying God’s Word.
Fourth; how can I turn my anxiety into worship? Only by reading God’s Word can I begin to enter into a place of worshiping God for who He is.
Fifth; what do I need to tell my soul right now? You may need to remind yourself that, “... we know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). There are a myriad of other truths you can stand on during troubling times.
What it all boils down to is living in trust that God is in control. Despite the difficulties, we need to submit to His will, no matter the cost. We must often wait for God’s timing.
I hope you can see that the answers to life always come from God’s Word. We must allow the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to His truth in Scripture. Then we may fully realize what a privilege it is to walk hand in hand with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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