Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him…
I. MOODS AND EMOTIONS SHOULD BE EXAMINED AND GOVERNED BY A HIGHER SELF. There are plenty of people who, making profession of being Christians, do not habitually put the break on their moods and tempers, and who seem to think that it is a sufficient vindication of gloom and sadness to say that things are going badly with them in the outer world, and who act as if they supposed that no joy can be too exuberant and no elation too lofty if, on the other hand, things are going rightly. It is a miserable travesty of the Christian faith to suppose that its prime purpose is anything else than to put into our hands the power of ruling ourselves because we let Christ rule us. If the wheelhouse, and the stearing gear, and the rudder of the ship proclaim their purpose of guidance and direction, as eloquently and unmistakably does She make of our inward selves tell us that emotions and moods and tempers are meant to be governed, often to be crushed, always to be moderated by sovereign will and reason. In the psalmist's language, "my soul" has to give account of its tremors and flutterings to "Me," the ruling Self, who should be Lord of temperament and control the fluctuations of feeling.
II. THERE ARE TWO WAYS OF LOOKING AT CAUSES OF DEJECTION AND DISQUIET. There is a court of appeal in each man which tests and tries his reasons for his moods; and these, which look very sufficient to the flesh, turn out to be very insufficient when investigated and tested by the higher spirit or self. We should "appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober." If men would only bring the causes or occasions of the tempers and feelings which they allow to direct them, to the bar of common sense, to say nothing of religious faith, half the furious boilings in their hearts would stop their ebullition. It would be like pouring cold water into a kettle on the fire. It would end its bubbling. Everything has two handles. The aspect of any event depends largely on the beholder's point of view. "There's nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
III. No REASONS FOR BEING CAST DOWN ARE SO STRONG AS THOSE FOR ELATION AND CALM HOPE. Try to realize what God is to yourselves — "My God" and "the health of my countenance." That will stimulate sluggish feeling; that will calm disturbed emotion. He that can say, "My God!" and in that possession can repose, will not be easily moved by the trivialities and transitorinesses of this life, to excessive disquiet, whether of the exuberant or of the woeful sort. There is a wonderful calming power in realizing our possession of God as our portion — not stagnating, but quieting.
IV. THE EFFORT TO LAY HOLD ON THE TRUTH WHICH CALMS IS TO BE REPEATED IN SPITE OF FAILURES. NO effort at tranquillizing our hearts is wholly lost; and no attempt to lay hold upon God is wholly in vain. Men build a dam to keep out the sea, and the winter storms make a breach in it, but it is not washed sway altogether. And next season they will not need to begin to build from quite so low down, but there will be a bit of the former left to put the new structure upon. And so by degrees it will rise above the tide, and at last will keep it out. Did you ever see a child upon a swing, or a gymnast upon a trapeze? Each oscillation goes a little higher; each starts from the same lowest point, but the elevation on either side increases with each renewed effort, until at last the destined height is reached and the daring athlete leaps on to a solid platform. So we may, if I might so say, by degrees, by reiterated efforts, swing our. selves up to that stedfast floor on which we may stand high above all that breeds agitation and gloom.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
WEB: Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God! For I shall still praise him: my Savior, my helper, and my God. For the Chief Musician. By the sons of Korah. A contemplative psalm.