How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?…
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
(Psalm 13:2, 5 ESV)
His problems had not gone away. He hadn’t closed his eyes to the issues vexing him. Yet, he experienced a dramatic shift in heart condition.
The key to the heart change in Psalm 13 is the focus of his heart’s attention and trust.
In verse two, David is taking “counsel in my soul” and having sorrow. He was downcast, struggling, and aching in his soul. The more he focused on his inner condition and his our strength of will, mental abilities, and emotional fortitude, the more stuck he was in his heartache due to his external troubles. His feelings were legitimate and real, but sitting in his feelings and trying by his own soul-effort to deal with the emotions was not doing him any good. He was tangled in sorrow “all the day’ as long as his focus was “in my soul.”
The turn around for David came in verse five when he took his eyes off of himself and fixed them upon God, His attributes, and His saving power. Now, his trust is in the almighty God in the midst of his hardship, and not in his own power. Now, he is able to rejoice because in the midst of the external uncertainties of life, he can rest in the certainty of God’s “steadfast love” even when the world and his own soul seem to be against him. David’s heart can rejoice in the midst of a troubling and sorrowful situation because he knows that God saves and can work out a salvation in his own life in spite of or through the difficulties of life.
Pause a moment the next time you find yourself bogged down in sorrow, anxiety, and worry. Stop and consider, like David, if your eyes have been fixed upon your troubles and your own sorrowful soul. Ponder if you have been struggling based upon your own self-effort. If so, it is time to shift your focus from yourself and your surroundings and fix them upon your Lord and Savior. Praise Him for his qualities, His salvation already accomplished on your behalf on Calvary, and how He will continue to work in your life. Rejoice in His steadfast love in the midst of an uncertain and ever shifting world and your own fluctuating emotions. When you do this, you will begin to find a way to have joy in the midst of sorrow, certainty in the midst of chaos, and healing in the midst of pain.