The Enemy Within
DAVID GOFF | APRIL 1, 2020
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
When we are in the depths of distress, we tend to focus on problems that attack from outside, such as other people’s mistakes, adverse circumstances, or a declining economy. As threatening as these problems may be, there is an enemy within that can do far more significant damage. When we begin to listen to the lies of our heart, we worsen our situation, become discouraged, and may even lose our desire to persevere.
The good news is that in Psalm 42:6-11, David also dealt with this type of temptation. By following his example, we will be able to recognize and have victory over three common lies of the heart.
“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.” (7)
It’s hard to imagine experiencing the terrifying situation that David describes here. His despair left him feeling attacked from every direction: water falling from above, angry waves pouring over him, gasping for breath! At times, our problems can overwhelm us in the same way. The medical report doesn’t look right, our bank account goes negative, and then our only vehicle breaks down. We may feel like we are drowning in our troubles.
David fought back against the temptation to believe this lie by proclaiming, “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me…” (Psalm 42:8). In the midst of what seemed like David’s demise, he had faith that the Lord would be his rescue. As the word lovingkindness indicates, David knew God’s love was unfailing. He knew God’s love wouldn’t fail even during his exile from Saul. It was ever-present even in the deepest waters. David wasn’t drowning - for the Lord was his rescue.
“I will say to God my Rock, 'Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?’ ” (9)
As David prepares to address God, he describes Him as his Rock. The word Rock indicates that to David, God was his source of strength and his place of shelter. Despite this wonderful knowledge, however, we see David in his temptation inquire, “…Why have you forgotten me?...” (Psalm 42:9). The excruciating pain caused by his enemy’s oppression left him feeling damaged & forgotten. You see, in his time of trouble, David had knowledge of God, but he lost focus on the truth that God had knowledge of him.
Here, for example, is how J.I. Packer affirms this same idea:
“What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it—the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind.” (Knowing God, 37)
Has your pain brought you to a place where you think that God has forgotten you? When we believe this lie, we need to be reminded of God’s knowledge of us. In John 10:14, Jesus testifies of this by stating, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” Just like David, we need to be reminded we have a good shepherd who knows us intimately. We are not forgotten!
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?...” (11)
Following David’s lament and complaint to the Lord he now pauses to make sense of all that he was going through. I’m sure he considered the culmination of all of his troubles, the temptations he experienced, and the unclear nature of his future. As part of this contemplation, David asks himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?…” (11).
There is no indication that David’s conditions changed for the better by the end of the Psalm. Still, David was able to recognize each lie of his heart & replace them with the joy of the Lord. It was his relationship with the true and living God that gave him this joy. Once we have a relationship with Jesus, we are no longer hopeless. We have unending reasons to give praise to his name!
When we feel like we are drowning in the depths of distress, we need to reject the lies of our heart. They take away our joy, discourage us, and lead to a desire to give up. We can persevere by rejecting these lies, responding in faith, and being strengthened in the joy of the Lord.
David Goff is the Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church of Washington MI