Beware of the Soul’s Counsel

“How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever?
how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
having sorrow in my heart daily?
how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O LORD my God:
lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him;
and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in thy mercy;
my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.”
– Psalm 13

Have you ever been so down, you just couldn’t seem to pick yourself back up? One of the most dangerous things we tend to do is take counsel with our own soul. One of the messages of Hollywood is “Follow your heart.” That is some dangerous advice! Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” We ought not follow our own hearts but rather lead our hearts. We lead it with truth!

A Foolish Accusation

How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? – Psalm 13:1

David begins this portion with a rather shocking accusation against God. “How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever?” Wow! Can you imagine accusing God of such a thing? Yet David here, is speaking from His heart. This is how he is feeling, and his feelings are getting the better of him. One important thing to take from this is that is is ok to tell God exactly how you are feeling. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16). We are invited to bold come to God with out problems. He understands. Though a foolish statement, incredible honesty is deployed here by David.

A Horrible Counselor

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? – Psalm 13:2

Like we often do when in such a bad mental place, David took his problem inward and began counseling with his own soul. What a terrible place to go! Your soul will lead you astray. The counsel will be selfish and you will fall into the “woe is me” trap. For David, this lead to multiplied sorrows. “How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
having sorrow in my heart daily?” That is exactly what takes place. we go down further into the pit of dispart, looking only at our own circumstances.

A Real Enemy

Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. – Psalm 13:4

We do not know for certain which event David was referring to here, but he had many times in his life when he was being hunted by enemies. Saul was out to get him. HIs own son tried to overthrow him. His trusted advisor and friend betrayed him. Whatever it was, there was a very real enemy in his life that would love nothing more than to destroy him. We have an enemy. If you are saved, the devil has already lost you for eternity, but he may still render you ineffective. Your life is now to be lived for the glory of God. Satan hates God being glorified. If you fall and if you stay in this down state, the enemy will say “I have prevailed against him.” We are in a warfare, whether we want to fight or not. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12). Many times, the battle is in the mind. The fiery darts of the devil are aimed at our minds. He is a liar from the beginning. He is a slanderer. He is the accuser of the brethren. He will love to keep us taking counsel in our soul, where he is lobbing those darts.

Facts Over Feelings

But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. – Psalm 13:5

I love when the conjunction “but” shows up. Things are about to turn around. The thing with David, the man after God’s own heart, was that when his feelings betrayed him, his theology triumphed. He cannot stay down. He begins speaking truth. Instead of taking counsel from his soul, he becomes the counselor with bold truth. “I have trusted in thy mercy.” Oh, the mercy of God. How that will change a heart. He didn’t start trusting God’s mercy, he remembered that he has trusted it. Sometimes we need to go back to when we first believed. Remember the mercies of God! They are new every morning. Remember when you got saved? Remember when you could not believe that God would save a wretch like you? What a refreshing thought! “My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.” When we go back and rehearse the salvation we have received from the Lord, oh how the countenance is lightened! Oh how the joy returns! David’s change comes when he stopped focusing on his feelings, but rather spoke the truth that he knew.

An Encouraging Song

I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. – Psalm 13:6

“I will sing…” The determination that though he had been down and though he felt God had forgotten him, he cannot deny that fact that he had been blessed! Why would he sing to the Lord? As he thought on God’s mercy and he thought on God’s salvation, he became aware of God’s tremendous blessings! The fact that God would take a sinner and pardon him, make him righteous and receive him as his own is truly beyond comprehension! Then beyond that when we consider the physical blessings that God gives, that He “…daily loadeth us with benefits…” (Psalm 68:19), how could we not sing? How could we ever accuse Him of forgetting about us? I love how Thomas Chisholm put it in his song, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” It’s as though he sat down to put together a list of God blessings and eventually put down his pen because there was too many to number as he said “with ten thousand beside!”

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

One thing I often notice about David’s Psalms is that though he may begin with a problem and in despair, he turns upward to the answer! He would end with God, the Divine Helper. It is not a sin to get down. Some of the greatest Christians who ever lived struggled with it. It is not good, however to stay there. Speak God’s truth to your deceitful feelings. Remember God’s goodness. And sing to Him! “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” (Psalm 3:3)

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