The Psalmist here is exercising one of the most fundamental of human exercises – self talk. He is asking himself questions to try to help discover a true perspective.

What is critical about this self talk is it does not assume an answer. It is not a rhetorical question. The Psalmist is trying to slow himself down, to evaluate what he is thinking and why.

Often our self talk goes unnoticed and unchecked. When this happens, we tend to reinforce our patterned perspectives, often developed by the false narrative and world-centered narratives that can dominate our mind. We choose a perspective, whether we realize it or not.

To engage in intentional self talk is to give oneself the best chance possible to discern the truth. To challenge oneself. To examine all angles, or at least as many as can be discerned.

The emotions this Psalmist faces – downcast, disturbed – could take the lead and try to reinforce themselves, manipulating any chances of a different perspective in their own image. Instead, he allows himself to examine. Why am I downcast?

In the end, he concludes that his hope is in God and he will choose a perspective of praise. Whatever circumstances caused him to be downcast haven’t gone away. Whatever caused him to be disturbed has continued on. What has changed is his own perspective; his willingness to choose to live above his circumstances. 

We cannot get there without a little self-evaluation. A chat with ourselves to help discover what we are feeling, what we are thinking, what is our perspective, and what is true.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
– Psalm 42:11