A Study On The Life Of David And Mental Health
A MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART?
In Scripture, David is called a “man after God’s own heart.” This is an honor that is only given to King David in Scripture, although his life and attitude sometimes seems undeserving of the title. Not only did David commit murder and adultery, he was prideful, selfish, and struggled with severe depression. At times, he was so depressed that he wished for God to kill him.
But still, David was a “man after God’s own heart.” As we briefly study the lowest points in David’s life and mental health, be encouraged, friend! David not only overcame his depression and fear, but through them he grew in his walk with God. So can you! David was not anywhere near a perfect man, but his story shows how one of the greatest men in history struggled with his mental health just like many of us do.
WHO WAS DAVID?
When David was chosen by God to be the next King of Israel, he was not the strongest or most impressive of the options. When Jesse of Bethlehem was asked to present his sons, David did not even come to his father’s mind because he was a humble shepherd, and a young boy.
As God rejected all seven of Jesse’s sons, the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
After young David was chosen, he spent almost 20 years waiting to become the King of Israel as God had anointed him. David fought many battles and won many wars, but was eventually forced to flee from the reigning King Saul. This is the first instance in which we see David write about his depression in the Psalms. David cried out to God in Psalms 57 and said, “Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll, are they not in your record? Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.”
David was afraid of Saul and his army, but still continued to have faith that God would protect him and provide for him. In his Psalms, David repeats, “In God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Years later, King David commits one of the most heinous crimes in the Bible. He commits adultery with a beautiful woman named Bathsheba, knowing that she was married. Not only was she a married woman, but her husband, Uriah, was one of David’s strongest and most loyal soldiers. After this adulterous act, David has Bathsheba’s husband killed and marries her while she is already pregnant.
When David is convicted by God and realizes the extent of his sins, he is wholly consumed with sorrow. He clothes himself in sackcloth and mourns. David writes in Psalm 69, “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.”
Even as David expresses his anguish to God, he still praises the Lord for his goodness and greatness and thanks Him for His mercy. Even though his life seems hopeless, he still concludes all his Psalms by praising the Lord.
Now that we understand a little about David’s life, some of us might be able to relate to his struggles. He was betrayed by people he loved, succumbed to sexual temptation, lost his best friend and child, and then ultimately lost his kingdom. Despite all of this, when David was depressed and hopeless, he did not put the focus on his struggles. He instead focuses on the enduring faithfulness of God.
HOW DOES DAVID’S STORY APPLY TO MENTAL HEALTH?
When we are struggling with our mental health, we can do the same. Remember that the faithfulness of God does not change, mediate on Scripture, and continue to praise the Lord. As David says in Psalm 69, “But as for me, afflicted and in pain—may your salvation, God, protect me. I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” Praising God even through our pain takes our focus off of ourselves and put it back on Him and His faithfulness.