The raw emotion of David’s prayer in Psalm 142 comes through clearly in his choice of words. In his Cave of Adullam, the beleaguered future king struggled with depression and shrieked heavenward.
I used to wonder why we ever needed to utter words in prayer since God already knows all our thoughts (Psalm 139:4). Then one day I stumbled across Hosea 14:1–2.
Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God,
For you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
Take words with you and return to the LORD.
Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity
And receive us graciously,
That we may present the fruit of our lips.”
Did you notice the prophet’s command? His charge is to “take words with you.” Saying our most troubling thoughts—expressing our deep-down feelings in words—is an effective form of therapy. It’s helpful to get those depressive feelings out into the open, a way to resurrect them from the prisonlike limbo of our inner being. David did exactly that. He “took words with him” as he came to terms with his depression.
In the second verse of Psalm 142, the man openly declares his problem to God.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare my trouble before Him.
Look at that term “trouble.” It comes from the Hebrew verb meaning “to be bound up, tied tightly, restricted, narrow, cramped”—or as we would say today, “I’m in a tight fix.” When he says, “I declare my trouble,” the Hebrew word for “declare” literally means “to cause to be conspicuous.” He wanted nothing hidden.
Putting all the preceding thoughts together, the first two verses could read, “I shriek with my voice to the Lord; I implore favor with my voice to the Lord. I pour out, before Him, my complaint; my cramped, narrow way, before Him, I cause to be conspicuous.”
Do you really level with God about how you feel and what you are experiencing? Do you get vividly specific? He wants to be your closest Friend, your dearest Counselor. He wants you to keep nothing from Him. Unfortunately, many who suffer lengthy battles with depression do not express what is plaguing them. Some find it almost impossible to articulate thoughts that are brimming with pain or hostility or grief. Most stay to themselves and say very little. David spoke openly of his anguish.