When Your Heart Is Overwhelmed

“When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path” (Psalm 142:3a).

Here was David, hiding in a cave from King Saul, probably the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1). The cave was like a prison, a place you want to get out of, but can’t. David expressed this as a prayer: “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name” (Psalm 142:7a). Whatever prison you may find yourself in, there is One who can set you free: the Lord Jesus Christ.

David had three “looks” in the prison of his situation, as recorded in Psalm 142. The first was an OUTWARD look. He talked about a PREDATOR problem: “They privily laid a snare for me” (v.3b); a PEOPLE problem: “There was no man that would know me … no man cared for my soul” (v.4); a PLACE problem: “Refuge failed me” (v.4); a PERSECUTION problem: “Deliver me from my persecutors” (v.6); and a POWER problem: “for they are stronger than I” (v.6).

You may be looking at life and see a lot of terrible problems. You may feel like you’re in a prison, like you are all alone, completely helpless, and like the enemy has the upper hand in your life; but the outward look produces only discouragement and despair.

David also had an INWARD look. “My spirit was overwhelmed within me” (v.3). Ever felt that way? Depressed and downtrodden? This was not the only time David felt this way. “Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate” (Psalm 143:4). As he looked inward, he saw that he was overwhelmed with a load of care.

Finally, David had an UPWARD look. “I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble” (Psalm 142:1-2). David prayed and cried out to God. He looked up and realized that he had a refuge in the Lord, and that God was his hiding place. “I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living” (v. 5). God was his expectation. The Lord was his all in all. And then we see his final proclamation of faith: “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name…for thou shalt deal bountifully with me” (v.7). What a great statement of faith!

Dear friend, you might feel right now as though you are in some sort of prison from which there seems to be no means of escape. Here’s the question: “What are you focusing on?” Look outward and be distressed; look inward and be depressed; or look at Him and be at rest!

“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:4-6).