A Lifting Up for the Downcast


Many Hebrew scholars assert that Psalms 42 and 43 were at one time one Psalm given both the repeated content in Psalm 43 and that many Hebrew manuscripts contain them together in one psalm. In Psalm 42:5 and 11 as well as in Psalm 43:5, we see the same exact wording:

Why are you in despair, O my soul?

And why have you become disturbed within me?

Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him

For the help of His presence.

The verb “despair” (šyḥ – שׁוּחַ) is used six times in the Old Testament and in each case it is found in conjunction with the noun “soul.” The term basically means “to sink down” and in all six uses in the Old Testament the metaphorical sense is implied. In other words, it speaks of a sinking or depression of the mind. In each of the three uses cited above, the verb is in parallel with the verb “disturbed” (hamah – הָמָה) which has the force, “to murmur” in discouragement. The Psalmist was depressed and he asked himself three times, “Why?” In his soul, or as the parallel phrase states, “within me,” he was suffering. The Psalmist’s inner being, his soul was in great despair… it was disturbed. Each time the Psalmist asks himself the question of why he was depressed, he followed up with the cure: “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him.” The solution comes in the form of “the help of his presence.” The Psalmist is convinced that because God is the object of his praise, he will be delivered, and in a sense, he has no real reason to remain depressed. This is hard to process when you are discouraged, but it is true. Perhaps no one has addressed these verses in the two Psalms like the Puritan William Bridge. In his book, A Lifting Up for the Downcast, Bridge takes the problem of discouragement head on and gives biblical and theological reasons why we need not remain discouraged. Bridge brings loving, pastoral care to the discouraged believer.


Categories: Depression, discouragement, Psalms, Uncategorized

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