A Psalm for the Depressed

Image: A man holds his head in his hands. (Gerd Altmann /Pixabay)

Dear God. Dear. God. Hear my cry!

Like the Hebrews in the hand of Pharaoh, I am locked into the depths of a depression. I know it is an illness. I have sought treatment, and I am following directions as well as I can.

The words of Psalm 6 speak to me and to all the sufferers:

O God, do not punish me in anger, do not chastise me in fury.

Have mercy on me, O God, for I languish; heal me, O God, for my bones shake with terror.

My whole being is stricken with terror, while You, God —O, how long!

O God, turn! Rescue me! Deliver me as befits Your faithfulness.

For there is no praise of You among the dead; in Sheol, who can acclaim You?

I am weary with groaning; every night I drench my bed, I melt my couch in tears.

Psalm 6:2-8

This is billed as “a Psalm of David” – wow. The great warrior king of Israel seems to understand depression very well. I’ve never particularly liked King David, but now I feel a kinship to him.

Then at the end, David reminds me that there is a road out of this awful emotional place:

Away from me, all you evildoers, for God heeds the sound of my weeping!

Psalm 6:9

Away from me, all you evildoers! Away, the voices that clamor in my head! Away the memories of cruel words said, away! Away, self-loathing! Away, shame! Away, away, away!

David reminds me that Someone is listening to my cry, and his psalm closes with hope:

God heeds my plea, God accepts my prayer.

All my enemies will be frustrated and stricken with terror; they will turn back in an instant, frustrated.

Psalm 6: 10-11

Who or what is God in this psalm? My guess is that David was as unsure as any of us when he wrote this. He was sitting at the bottom of life’s bucket 3000 years ago, and he wrote this little psalm, one of the shortest out of the 150 that we have.

God isn’t the point of this psalm, even if God is the addressee. David – the warrior king, the poet, the sweet singer of Israel – wrote this letter to every sufferer who hides under the covers, or cries in the parking lot.

This psalm is a postcard of consolation. He is saying, I was there too, right where you are now. I survived it. You will survive this too.

If you have sought out this article because you are depressed, remember that you are not alone. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Chat by clicking on the link. You can call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You do not need to be suicidal to seek out those resources – they are available 24 hours a day to assist you. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Resources Helpline can help you locate other assistance, and it is available 24 hours a day – just click the link to get to the info page.

We are not alone.

Published by

rabbiadar

Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi based in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, mom, poodle groomer, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at https://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ as the Coffee Shop Rabbi.

10 thoughts on “A Psalm for the Depressed”

  1. May you soon access again the light, dear Rabbi Ruth, in the depth of the night that weighs on you, keep cracking those matches that tell us you are still strong and brave. Thank you for sharing your struggles and leading the way with all sufferers, may you be blessed with a refuah shelemah.

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  2. Our hearts 💞 are still with you, dear Rabbi Adar. Day by day, you will feel better. You will. Take heart.

    Like

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