“The saints and people of God have no true reason for their discouragement, whatever their condition be.” says William Bridge in his exposition of Psalm 42. It appears that David had reasons to be discouraged. (1-2) He was away from God’s worship and ordinances. Adversaries and even his own heart say, “Where is your God?” (3, 9,10). He recalls and longs for those moments of spiritual nourishment. (4) “These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.” Yet in the midst of the discouragement, he speaks to his heart “Why are you cast down, O my soul and why are you in turmoil within me?” Hope in God. (5) from this Bridge considers another application of this psalm.
This raises a reasonable question, “What will help the Christian against discouragement?” We keep in mind, that if we have the blessings of the eternal God, regardless of our condition, discouragements have no place in us. God is more than our joy, he is our “exceeding joy.” (Ps 43:4) The enemy will attack us, and darken our day. He may put clouds over our heads, but he cannot remove the Sun. All clouds move in time.
Jesus speaks to his disciples. Satan will afflict them but Jesus tells them, “You are rich”. Jesus does not want their heart’s troubled. The disciples, confused and sad, hearing Jesus would die and leave are comforted. He didn’t want them to be discouraged. It seems they have reason to be discouraged like David in the psalm, they will be without his presence or the blessings of his fellowship. Some will die as martyrs, deny the faith, scatter without the Shepherd, Jesus says, “I don’t want you to have troubled hearts.”
The answer against discouragement, says the psalmist is hope, trust, and believe in God. Some ways to do this says: (pp.62-66)
- “Hang a cloak on a rotten peg and it will fall” Never make your comfort depend on your condition. Our condition is not the ground for our encouragement.
- “Satan sometimes transforms himself into an angel of light, so he would transform Christ before you into an angel of darkness” Think of Christ as he is offered in the Gospel, a gentle and faithful High Priest, advocate and friend, bread and life for the hungry and thirsty.
- “The only way to have a spiritual affliction removed is to be content that it should continue, if God and Christ will have it so” If you insist on having your affliction removed before you’re content, you will never be content.
- “The day of judgment is terrible; but to sweeten that, our present Advocate, yea, our best Friend, shall be our future Judge” In discouragements God mingles in sweetness. Find it.
- “Labour more and more to get your self-love mortified” Discouragement will result when we focus on our own glory first rather than God’s service, glory, and honor.
- “The traveller thinks the sun is not up, so he sits down and doesn’t travel. Then the sun breaks out and he says, ‘What a fool I was to think the sun was not up.’” Walk in the dark.