Depression and the Bible: King David

When I was in middle school I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. Yeah, that’s the thing soldiers who have been to war come home and deal with. At 17 I was diagnosed with full-blown depression and was put on medication. Then at 26 a psychologist diagnosed me with bipolar disorder.

Over the years I have had a lot of people criticize me for being a Christian who has dealt with depression. Many well-meaning people, often people who love me very much, have told me that my faith was not strong enough, or, if it was, then I wouldn’t be depressed.

Normally I wouldn’t include a post like this on my blog. It’s such a serious subject and doesn’t really fit in with a craft blog. But I know that a lot of my friends are really struggling with me on this topic and I wanted to share my insights. I don’t claim to know everything. In fact, there is a whole lot that I don’t know and probably never will know. But I am hoping that God will speak to you through the words that He has given me.

The last few days I have been studying different passages of scripture and discovering famous men of the Bible who also dealt with depression. And yet, these are men that we look to as godly men who are our inspiration.

David has always been my favorite Bible “character.” God called him a “man after [his] own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14, Psalm 89:20, Acts 13:22). As a young man he was pulled out of a crowd and chosen to fight a giant for all of Israel. His faith was so strong that he was able to kill the giant with a simple stone.

As the years went on he faced many different extraordinary challenges. It is safe to assume that David dealt with his own share of post traumatic stress syndrome. He was turned against by his best friend’s father, the king; attacked and forced to hide from Saul, he had to flee several times, he was mistrusted, fought many battles, and mourned many people he loved and cherished. Later he lost a battle against his sinful desires that lead him to great heartache and trouble.

In the midst of all this there were times in which he was so filled with happiness that he danced naked in joy. Then there were the times when he was filled with such great sorrow.

The Psalms are filled with poems, or songs, from both ends of the spectrum. Some of the Psalms are so joyful and have been made into praise songs for the church. They lift your spirits and lead towards a spirit of gratefulness. But there are other Psalms that are of great sorrow.

David did not write all of the Psalms. Many of them were penned by other great men. He did, however, compile them into one book.

Here are some of the words within the Psalms that have often echoed my own sentiments.

“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 4:1

“O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger, nor chasten me in Your wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away; Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; but You, O Lord–how long? Return, O Lord, rescue my soul; save me because of Your lovingkindness. For there is no mention of You in death; in Sheol [after life] who will give You thanks? I am weary with my sighing; every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief; it has become old because of all my adversaries.” Psalm 6:1-7

“Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble? In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. for the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, and the greedy man curses and spurns the Lord. The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, “There is no God.” His ways prosper at all times.” Psalm 10:1-5a

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.” Psalm 13:1-4

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest.” Psalm 22:1-2

“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with You, a sojourner like all my fathers.” Psalm 39:12

All of Psalm 42-43 but these verses in particular:

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. O my God, my soul is in despair within me; therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.” (42:5-7)

“My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.” Psalm 55:4-5

“Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:1-2

“Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His lovingkindness ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever? Has God forgotten to be gracious, or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion?” Psalm 77:7-9

“Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me; for I am afflicted and needy. Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man; O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to You I cry all day long. Make glad the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” Psalm 86:1-4

“I cry aloud with my voice to the Lord; I make supplication with my voice to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see; for there is no one who regards me; there is no escape for me; no one cares for my soul.” Psalm 142:1-4

It is important to note that these Psalms also include lines of praise. They do not solely focus on the negative. But my heart gravitates to the words of others, holy men, who have the same thoughts and emotions as myself. If a holy man, such as David, could suffer from such despair that he was able to pen these words, then how can it be wrong for me to relate to such thoughts?

I don’t think that it is wrong to be sad or to suffer from depression. I do not think that depression is a sign of lack of faith. David had great faith, despite and through, his depression. What we need to do is make certain that we turn our eyes to God in our times of troubles and not allow ourselves to be swallowed by our times of sorrow.

I have really been struggling with a time of depression over the last few weeks. I don’t have a good reason. And perhaps that is the most frustrating thing about bipolar depression. I don’t always know what triggered the depressive state. I just know that every day is a battle just to survive and not give into the overwhelming feeling of despair.

If you are dealing with some demons in your life, or your own form of depression, lets make a pact. Lets take this upcoming month to take a look at great people in the Bible (such as David), and to learn from them on how to handle our depression. For the next few days I will be reading through the Psalms that I have posted above. My goal is to pay attention, not to the words of lament, but to the words of praise that I did not include in this post.

Lord, open my eyes to see the good in my life. Open my heart to feel Your love. Open my mind to understand what You are doing in my life. Please tackle my depression for me, because I don’t have the strength to do it on my own. Thank You Lord, for all of the many blessings You have given me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

*”Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”

16 thoughts on “Depression and the Bible: King David

  1. Deanna Konst says:

    When I’m depressed, the Don Williams song goes through my head at least a half dozen times a day.

    Lord, I hope this day is good
    I’m feelin’ empty and misunderstood
    I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should
    But Lord I hope this day is good

    Lord, have you forgotten me
    I’ve been prayin’ to you faithfully
    I’m not sayin’ I’m a righteous man
    But Lord I hope you understand

    I don’t need fortune and I don’t need fame
    Send down the thunder, Lord, send down the rain
    But when you’re plannin’ just how it will be
    Plan a good day for me

    Lord, I hope this day is good
    I’m feelin’ empty and misunderstood
    I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should
    But Lord I hope this day is good

    You’ve been the King since the dawn of time
    All that I’m askin’ is a little less crime
    It might be hard for the devil to do
    But it would be easy for you

    Lord, I hope this day is good
    I’m feelin’ empty and misunderstood
    I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should
    But Lord I hope this day is good

    Its not realistic to never have down times. The Lord doesn’t ask that we don’t, he just asks that we have the faith that he will carry us through unto the greatest life we’ve ever known. Right now I’m having the hardest time finding that faith but for you, I know its coming. You are loved my dear one.

    • adaynasmile says:

      Thanks Deanna! I agree that it isn’t realistic to not be depressed at times. I hope that others realize that as well. So often we just get told to cheer up and move on. But sometimes we need a chance to just be sad for a bit. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it as long as it doesn’t take over our lives. But that’s just my two cents. 😉 Love you my dear dear friend!

  2. Kyra says:

    You are absolutely right! I believe the scriptures were preserved for us, so that we can learn from them and draw closer to God. We all have hard times to deal with, times of sadness and discouragement. I think the Lord expects it. But the test is how we choose to deal with it. God may not take away our trials, but He will help us through them if we choose to let Him. I am impressed by your faith in God and your willingness to stay close to Him. You are a good example to others and especially to your sweet children. Thanks for letting your light shine! Love ya!

  3. lifebydmagdalene says:

    Jesus was tired too. Even with the anointing and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, He slept so soundly that He didn’t even know their boat was sinking. He has a lot to be tired and weary for: everyone wants a piece of Him…He was up early to spend time in prayer with the Father…and retired late at night because of so many people to minister to….and He is Christ! What more for us Christians?

    We are faced with the reality that like Paul:
    “we are hard pressed on every side…perplexed…persecuted…struck down and always carry the death of Jesus…” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

    But there is another reality for Christians also, that even when we are feeling that way in Paul’s words:
    “I was hard pressed on every side but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed!

    Fatigue is not equal to joylessness, suffering is not equal to meaninglessness and frustration is not equal to hopelessness.

    Being depressed doesn’t mean having less faith…that would be too simple.
    I have ‘down times’….’bleak moments’ of my own. I question “why am I feeling this way when I am a Christian?” “What is still lacking in my faith?” “Do I have less faith in God that’s why I am feeling this way?”

    I am so very glad Dana, that you are holding on to God’s Words, His faithfulness and His many Promises…He alone is able to complete His work in us. It would take time, but He holds time in His hands…all we can do is “be still…and wait on the Lord.”

    I’m with you Dana…we are both loved by Him!


  4. Ben says:

    “I have really been struggling with a time of depression over the last few weeks. I don’t have a good reason. And perhaps that is the most frustrating thing about bipolar depression. I don’t always know what triggered the depressive state. I just know that every day is a battle just to survive and not give into the overwhelming feeling of despair.”

    There is three things that Satan does. Satan oppresses, obsesses, and possesses. When Satan oppresses me, I cling to God even more. I don’t believe a child of God can be possessed but I think a child of God can be oppressed and obsessed. Learned a lot from buying Dealing With The Devil CD album at

  5. jewels says:

    God knows our heartache…i guess what His word is saying that it’s possible to go through it without all the medication, but then again times are different today than then. There are a few books out there addressing depression, but i have yet to find one that gives as much as your short article/blog here. I pray God blesses and heals you from your depression. True that some of the greatest men & women of God have dealt with depression and true that the church up til this day does not understand full blown depression. My question is why doe sit seem like it’s become worse than before, could it be the lack faith and true dependency on medication. One time i was watching TBN and there was a dr. and his wife on there, she was a rn, she said she was so excited to visit a mental institution so she could open their eyes up to God. She said it all went down just the opposite as she planned, she was shocked, hurt and confused. She said when she came back to her hotel room she wepted, and asked God why why why?? why would You allow this? how? she had many questions. She said God spoke to her and told her “They did not trust or believe in me” so i think that medication has a lot to do in worsening someone, especially when they have no God to believe in, a real God has Jesus Christ. I’ve been at both sides, medicine and no medicine. I’m telling you if it wasn’t for God i could of very well been one of those in an institution, but because of God’s mercy and grace i am not. I believe there is a time just like King David, that when we get up wash our face, put clean clothes on, and eat, pray, worship our creator. The problem is society and sad to say church does not understand this….it’s sad, and really we as ppl of God should write and reach out to those that are hurting in this way before their own minds and bodies lead them to insanity. I can remember times when i just wanted to die, i couldnt’ see any other perspective but the enemy’s, which was me totally losing it. I’ve come so far, it’s been four years and i finally am getting up, washing my face, putting clean clothes on, eating, and building what has been broken. Does anyone have a time or how long King David was depressed??? i would love to know this, because for some years go by, and i don’t know if it’s because they rely on dr. instead of God, i don’t know.
    Nevertheless, i love each and everyone of you and so does the Lord, God is good and a merciful God. Yes He is enough~

  6. jessica says:

    I stumbled across this post when I Googled “king david bible stress”. I am currently so stressed out and scared, it’s to the point for a brief moment, I wish my life ended. Then I thought about King David and how much he inspires me. What he must do to deal with the stress of King Saul and so many other things that demands his life every day.

    Your post is so amazing and I’m so glad that you have shared it. It’s very encouraging. I’m glad that you chose to ignore the others who feel that “Christians cannot be depressed” or perhaps, “they are not spiritually strong enough in God” (I may be misquoting a few things, as it’s quite late where I am typing this). Those people do not understand and have no empathy/compassion. Which is actually something God/Jesus teaches us.

    I’m so happy to read about how your family is your love and all the wonderful men in your life. You are strong and amazing of a woman to handle so many social and personal situations.

    I haven’t seen any updated posts, so I hope that you are doing alright. May God bless you and your family.

    Please let us know if there are any prayer requests or miracles that you’d like to share.

    • adaynasmile says:

      I’m so glad that you found this blog post and that it was an encouragement. Thank you for asking as to how I am doing. I am doing well. We are currently in the process of a move, thanks to a change of career for my husband in the military. It has been quite a stressful time and we just got our internet back after about a month. Hopefully soon I will get a chance to update a bit! Thanks again for stopping by!

  7. kesha says:

    This article was a blessing. I felt guilty and ashamed for being depressed. This is not a popular subject in general but, especially in the black community. I wish someone had said this to me along time ago david was depressed … it is so clear I have felt every thing he said he felt all that despair sorrow and confusion…

    • adaynasmile says:

      I am so glad that you found this post and that it was a blessing to you! I think it is a hard topic for all people to discuss because it is so hard for us to understand. Keep hanging in there and hold on to the promises of the good things in life, even when you feel like you are drowning in the bad. There is always something worth living for. ALWAYS! Giant hugs via the internet for you.

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