David, King of Israel, pops into the walk-in centre on the off chance he can get an appointment.
After a short wait he walks into a consulting room and sits down. The doctor, is engrossed with his computer but glances at him quickly to say, ‘Hello, what’s wrong with you today?’
‘Well, I’ve been feeling a bit faint recently’
‘Oh dear!’ says the doctor, tapping away at his keyboard.
‘And I’m sort of aching all over, sore bones, that kind of thing’
‘Right, there’s a bit of flu about at the moment’, he says, ‘any other symptoms?’
There is a pause. David is embarrassed.
‘I can’t stop crying’
The doctor, who is more switched on than he seems, turns away from his computer and, leaning back in his chair, puts his hands behind his head. This is what he always does when he wants to say, ‘I’m listening’, without actually saying the words, ‘I’m listening’.
‘Come on’, he says, ‘Tell me, what has been happening to you?’
About 30% of this GPs patients present with a problem that is not really physical, but psychological. He often prescribes pills for a racing heartbeat but when they don’t work; it often turns out that the problem is not the heart but anxiety. The mind frequently makes the body malfunction.
Now, David talks freely; short sentences, random themes.
‘My guts are really knotted up all the time. I’ve made so many mistakes. I feel an anguish deep down inside. Do you think God is punishing me? I can’t stop thinking about death’
It is clear that David has a problem, but it is not his bones, it’s his mind.
‘Have you ever thought of taking your own life?’
‘No, never, I’m no good to anyone dead!’
‘No secret plan to kill yourself if you find you can’t cope?’
‘No worries on that score’
David was battle-hardened and battle-weary. Now he is exhausted, has feelings of guilt, he cannot sleep and weeps uncontrollably. It looks like anxiety, perhaps a mild depression.
‘I feel… so alone’, he says.
‘We all know that that your enemies are real. But it sounds as though they have really got to you this time’.
‘Yes, I don’t know who to trust. My advisors are dodgy; some of the military are suspect. Even my own family – my own son – I can’t trust him!’
Then David straightens up and looks the doctor in the eye.
‘But I am trusting in God, he will save me because of his unfailing love!’
‘Yes’, says the doctor, who recognises the language. This is what David sounds like when he is trying to be like Churchill, who also had depression. ‘I know he will, but I wonder whether you might also benefit from a little human support?’
David knew the Lord and his trust was real, but now his head is such a mess that he really would benefit from some extra help. But at this stage in his life, most of his friends were dead or corrupt.
The doctor mentally checks David’s symptoms against his guidelines from NICE. Some medicine might help, and a conversation with a therapist would give him the mental tools to recover more quickly.
Sadly, none of this was available in the tenth century BC. Thankfully, they are today. But David had one therapy available to him. It’s available to us too.
Music is medicine, and he sang the blues. Even better, worship is therapy, and David knew how to worship.
Today, we can find his lyrics in the bible to help us when we need them. You will find the song he wrote that day in psalm 6.