Summary: A study of David's pains expressed in Psalm 55 and Dr. Stephens Ten Hidden Emotions to help us deal with our pain in everyday life.
Pain is a part of life that every person endures. The bigger question is: How do you handle your pain? Are you the kind that stuffs it down deep? Or do you wear it on your chest as a badge for all to see? David was a man who dealt with a lot of pain in his life. He was the youngest of seven brothers (1 Chronicles 2:13-16a). This meant a lot of sibling rivalries. He lived on the run for his life from King Saul for many years. He was betrayed on the throne by his own son, Absalom. He knew all about life’s great trials, temptations, and struggles. So, how did he deal with his pain? By studying Psalms 55, we should have a good idea of the emotions David was feeling, how we can relate to those same feelings, and how to deal with pain successfully in our own lives.
Psalm 55:1-5 describes how David cries out to God: “Give ear to my prayer, O God” He does not want God to be hidden, but seeks him out. “I am restless…and moan noisily…” David is in utter agony: “because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression…they bring down trouble…they hate me. My heart is severely pained with in me.” David feels like his enemy has spoken horrible words that have truly heart him to the core. He feels restless and cannot remain calm, because those words replay over again and again in his mind. His enemy’s words are like a sharp knife, piercing his heart with each replay. They haunt him. “And the terrors of death have fallen upon me, fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.” David is so horrified and full of fear that he would rather not exist than continue to live with this pain.
Psalm 55:6-8 speaks of how he is in so much that he would rather escape, run away, or fly on a dove’s wings than continue. He speaks words of what he wants to see happen to his enemy in Psalms 55:9-11. He wants to see his enemy suffer the way he had suffered. He wants revenge.
So, what did this enemy do that hurt David so badly? Psalms 55:12-15 describe how a friend whom he trusted, went to church with, confided in, and respected like an equal betrayed him. David wishes to see vengeance served on this scoundrel of a friend. He wants to see this betrayer burn in hell, literally. But the grace of God prevails.
David knows he cannot act on these feelings of anger, pain, and vengeance. He understands that if he does, it will only cause more pain. Psalms 55:16-21 express his calling out for the Lord to “save him”. All hours of the day he prays and cries out to God, because only God has “redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me”. 2 Corinthians 12:9a says: “My grace is sufficient for you.” Grace is only known because of judgement. When we have hurt someone, we deserve punishment for causing pain to a person. However, when we apologize to them, we are shown mercy by being forgiven, and grace in not receiving the punishment rightfully due. When we are the ones being hurt, God fills us with his mercy in order to be able to forgive them, and with his grace to not seek the vengeance we think adequate to satisfy our pain. If we do not forgive, we cause ourselves numerous future pains by harboring ill feelings. If we seek our own vendettas, we cause our hearts to become hardened stone because the pain consumes us. Only in allowing God to help us, will we have the peace we need to walk away from the battle whole. “God will hear and afflict them.” God is the judge who delivers the sentence of punishment on our behalf. He knows our pains. He knows our hurts. He knows how we feel in every situation. He understands how we were tricked and deceived by our enemy’s words, which were “smoother than butter…war in his heart…words softer than oil, yet …drawn swords.”
Psalms 55:22-23 describe how we should handle our pain. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.” What does it mean to cast our burdens? Dr. Steve Stephens wrote The Wounded Warrior: A Survival Guide for When You’re Beat Up, Burned Out, or Battle Weary (Multnomah Books, 2006). In it Stephens describes ten hidden emotions we feel when we are hurting. The first emotion is anxiety. When a situation happens to us, we worry. We think about how it is going to affect us, our family, and our friends. We sometimes start to panic about how we are going to handle to difficult situation. Second is apathy. We think that the situation doesn’t matter. No one is going to notice it. It’s nothing. We blow it off as smoke in the wind. Third is confusion. Unfortunately the situation was more to us than nothing. Now, we have difficulty processing anything else, because we are solely focused on the automatic replay going on inside of our minds. We become confused over the simplest problems and are unable to focus properly. Fourth is despondency. Because we can’t process things as usual, we start to feel as if nothing is going right anymore. Everything seems to go wrong. We feel as if we are sinking into a bottomless pit, because we are so annoyed at our feelings and lack of concentration. Despair creeps in. Fifth is helplessness. Because nothing seems to go right, there is nothing we can do to fix our situation. No one else can possibly understand my pain. This is immediately followed by the sixth, hopelessness. No matter what we do we are destined to fail, so why even bother? There is no point in trying. Seventh is regret. I should never have said something. I should never have been there. We begin to blame ourselves for what occurred and find ways to put down self. Eighth is paralysis. We are in such a depressive state that we feel frozen. Our physical body is alive, but our mind has checked-out. We carry on as usual pretending everything is normal when we are really a walking sarcophagus. We feel completely dead on the inside. Ninth is uncertainty. We start to analysis what happened in our situation and wonder what could have happened if we would have done or said something different. Would it have changed the outcome? We start to ask the famous, “What if…?” Finally, tenth is urgency. We feel like we have come to terms with our situation and need to either speak to the person or do something and the moment is filled with disparity. The situation needs to be handled right now, as soon as possible. Whatever words I need to say or hear cannot wait another moment.