Oh My Soul
Our souls are the eternal part of us, the essence of our us-ness which will live on forever, either with the Lord in Glory, or endlessly separated from Him in hell. George MacDonald said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” Our souls are comprised of our mind, emotions and will. Scripture tells us that we humans are made up of soul, spirit and body. Our current bodies will die and be replaced by our glorified, eternal bodies, but our spirits and our souls will live forever. I believe this is why, as we age in this world, our minds do not feel like we are getting old, while our bodies certainly do. Our souls mature, but do not really age.
Throughout the Scriptures, particularly in the Psalms, we see God-followers not just talking to God, but also addressing their souls. In Judges 5:21 the Song of Deborah includes the line, “March on, my soul, be strong!” The Psalmist encourages his soul to find rest and hope in God alone, remember His goodness, and praise Him (Psalm 62:5; 103:1, 3, 22; 104:1, 35; 146:1; 116:7). In Psalms 42 and 43 the psalmist repeatedly challenges his soul with the question, “Why are you downcast, O my soul; why are you so disquieted within me?” And then he repeats truth to his soul about the God he serves.
All of these times of addressing our souls are vital to living an intentional, growing, truth-filled life in Christ. Pastor Jay is fond of the Martin Lloyd-Jones quote:
“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 they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? 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 art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So, he stands up and says, ‘Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.’”
This means that we confront our fears, our mis-truths, our doubts with the truth of who God is, what He has said, and what He has done. We see this very much evidenced in this song.
First we should notice that the lyrics here are full of the truth of who God is, acknowledging Him as Father, merciful, Sovereign King, Savior, Rescuer, Lover, good, and gracious. If we are to keep our souls in good stead in the face of all that comes our way in life, we need to be grounded in the truth of all God has revealed Himself to be. The Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation are full of God telling us just who He is. The more we are aware of His revelation of the truth of His character and nature and ways with His people, and apply it to our minds and hearts, the more peace, joy, confidence, and love we will experience.
The second thing we need to tell our souls is to remind them of all that God has done. We are to look at how He has interacted with mankind from the beginning, what He has promised to do, and what He has done in our own lives personally. Then we are to regularly remind ourselves, our souls, of these truths. In this song we find this in the lyrics about how we’ve been set free, our sin removed, freed from the dread of death. They remind us of how much we are loved by God—a love that is higher than the heavens and deeper than the sea. We can do so much to fortify our souls when we remind ourselves of how He has shown us His concern, comfort, provision, grace and goodness. On top of that He has made SO many promises, many of which we have already seen fulfilled, so we are given assurance that the rest will be fulfilled, as well. The question is how many of these promises do we know? How many can we profess to our souls when we are in need to be fortified?
The third thing that helps us remain steadfast is intentionality—purposefully applying to our souls the truth of who He is and what He has done and promised to do. This is where all the “I wills” come in. Both in this song and in the Scripture we often see the “my soul” verses paired with “I will” statements. Speaking to our souls (and I recommend doing this out loud when possible) includes telling our souls what to do with the truth we believe. In this song it mentions “darkness” and it is in those dark times that we need to have a pre-placed arsenal of truth in the depths of our souls, and to actively replenish the supply throughout our lives and struggles.
This is where the “I will praise,” “I will hope,” I will trust,” I will lift up,” show not only intention, but faith. We may not necessarily feel the hope, but we trust we will. We will put our hope in Him, even when we don’t necessarily feel hopeful. When we determine to our souls that we will stand on God’s character and act on His promises, we are exhibiting faith—“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Such intentional speaking of truth to our souls will be life changing for us, for certainly God blesses such faith. After all, what is faith but taking God at His word and acting on it.
What are you telling your souls each day? Pay attention to your inner voice and see. Then determine to intentionally, often audibly, speak God’s truth to your soul, and see what a difference it will make in your life and your walk with the Lord.
If you’d like to look more into the difference between soul and spirit, I found this article informative.