Quick Thoughts on a “Bi-Polar Psalm”

Quick Thoughts on a “Bi-Polar Psalm”

By: Stacey Tuttle

Ok, first off, let me make a disclaimer here.  I realize that it may seem horribly offensive and insensitive of me to use the term bi-polar here.  I haven’t struggled with anything like that, and for someone who has, they may feel I use the term too lightly, and certainly I’m using it incorrectly.  My apologies.  It’s just the term that struck me as I read Psalm 22 and entered into the ups and downs, the drastic swings David is experiencing.  Less mood swings than a real battle between his emotions and his mind… but I am getting ahead of myself, let me explain.

I just read what I have affectionately dubbed the Bi-polar Psalm – Psalm 22.  (And as bi means 2, this nickname has the added bonus of helping me remember it’s address!)  Here is a quick summation in my own, less-poetic (one might even say vulgar by comparison) voice.

God, where’d ya go?  Why’d ya leave?

YET…I know, I know.  You’re God.  You’re Holy.  And I know the history, how you always came through for your people.

BUT…that was them and this is…well, it’s ME.  Scummy me.  You know what they say about me… they – aka everyone else.

YET…you’ve been my God from the start.  So, don’t leave me now!  I got nothing and no one else.

UGH!  I’m exhausted.  I’m wasted.  And everyone hates me.

BUT…you can rescue me.  You’ve done it before.  You can do it again.

Yeah, that’s right…and when you do, I’ll tell everyone about it!  In fact, I’ll tell them right now – “Hey Everyone listen up!  And get back!  God’s about to show up…and show up BIG!

Talk about wrestling with how you feel verses what you know.  In between his rants about how he feels, the Psalmist wrangles his emotions with truth.  He starts with what God did for others, the stories of generations past.  Then he recalls what God has done for him.  And then, he is finally able to be confident about what God is going to do in the future.

It’s also interesting to note that the longest “stretch” is the final (read the actual Psalm 22, you’ll see!).  He no longer wavers.  He gained so much confidence from recalling God’s faithfulness in the past that he declares it to everyone, telling them that they can take it to the bank too!  But, his confidence is really in eternity, in God’s ultimate, total plan.  He is so focused on the totality of God’s plan that the current/temporary results are irrelevant to him.  (See vs. 29 about “even the one who couldn’t keep himself alive”).   

Truth brought his feelings into control.  He starts out overwhelmed, worried, desperate, alone…  He ends up confident, victorious, joyful, hopeful…  Circumstances haven’t changed one bit.  But his perspective sure has! 

My takeaway from this:  I need to spend more time rehearsing the faithfulness of God, both to others and to myself. 

Practical ways to do it: 

  • Read the Bible…especially the Old Testament. 
  • Read Christian Biographies of some of the heroes of our faith (George Muller, Gladys Aylward, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Peter Marshall, Jim Elliott, etc., etc.)
  • Plan a story night with friends – ask everyone to each tell at least one story of how God came through for them – sharing stories with each other helps you recount your own past with God, and encourages you to hear how He has worked in the lives of those you love!
  • Set up “memorial stones” in your house – items which represent moments when God came through for you, so that every time you see that book, that candle, that picture, you are reminded of the time … 
  • Draw a “life map” – a physical map or timeline of your life, representing the highs and lows and ask God to show you as you do it how he helped you along the way.  This is a great group project too – for everyone to do and then come together and share theirs with the group – again, you will end up telling each other about God’s provision and faithfulness.
  • Start a journal which is dedicated to great moments with God – those times when God was your Champion, your Savior, your Victor, your Hero, Provider, Healer, Comforter…!