The writer of Psalm 42 preaches to his own soul. This is one of the most important lessons in life. Verse 5: “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” So he’s talking to his soul. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” That’s a crucial lesson to learn.
Let me read you a paragraph from Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s book. When I read this paragraph years ago, I thought, “I have to do that. I have to do more of that.” Here’s what he wrote.
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but there they are, talking to you. They bring back the problem of yesterday. Somebody’s talking. Who’s talking? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment in Psalm 42 was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.” (Spiritual Depression, 20–21)
Do you do that? I find that given the way I’m wired, much of my self-talk is very defeatist. I tell myself all kinds of bad news. And I can imagine my bad self saying, “You’re supposed to be giving me good news. I’ve got the bad news.” And I team up with my old self and say some more bad news. He’s got bad news, I got bad news, and no wonder we get discouraged.
So here we are, on this side of the cross. Jesus has come. How would you preach to yourself now? You preach the gospel to yourself. It goes like this:
Listen, self. Listen up, Piper. If God is for you, who can be against you, self? He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for you, self, will he not with him freely give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against you, God’s elect? It’s God who justifies, self. No, it’s Jesus who died — yes, who was raised. He’s at the right hand of God and he intercedes for you, self. What can separate you, self, from the love of God?
If there’s ever a reason for memorizing Romans 8, it’s to turn it into self-preaching — to preach to yourself because those words are dynamite for deliverance from a hundred circumstances. So, learn to preach to yourself. And if you do it out loud, they’ll just think you’ve got one of those earbuds in the airport.
Read, watch, or listen to the full message: