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Paul Tautges Christian Blog and Commentary

Paul Tautges

Paul Tautges serves as senior pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, having previously pastored for 22 years in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Paul has authored eight books including Counseling One Another, Brass Heavens, and Comfort the Grieving, and contributed chapters to two volumes produced by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He is also the consulting editor of the LifeLine Mini-Book series from Shepherd Press. Paul is a Fellow with ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors). He and his wife, Karen, are the parents of ten children (three married), and have two grandchildren. Paul enjoys writing as a means of cultivating discipleship among believers and, therefore, blogs regularly at Counseling One Another.

Proverbs 12:25 is remarkable in its simplicity and, yet, its depth of wisdom. It reads, Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.

Not only does the wise counselor, Solomon, teach body/soul connection, but he makes an extraordinary observation about the power of good words to minister healing grace to the burdened heart. How often do our sad friends need words of encouragement? How often could words of grace be part of God’s remedy, a necessary ingredient in the restoration of another person’s joy?

John Kitchen’s explanation of this verse so helpful, encouraging to my own heart, and challenging to my personal growth as one who longs to be more faithful in speaking both grace and truth at the same time. Kitchen writes,

The proverb gives remarkable insight into the psychology of depression. The word translated ‘weighs it down’ probably carries the idea of being depressed (cf. NKJV). That which produces the depression is anxiety. The anxiety spoken of is worry mingled with fear. For example, the word is used to describe the fear of the tribes of Israel which settled on the east of Jordan. They feared that, when cut off from the tabernacle and its sacrifices, their children would forget the Lord. For this reason, out of their anxiety, they set up an alternative altar (Josh. 22:24); cf. Jer. 49:23; Ezek. 4:16; 12:18-19). Under the weight of some anticipated calamity, the heart can begin to be bowed down, the thoughts can be consumed, and perspective can be lost. ‘A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken’ (Prov. 15:13). ‘A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones’ (Prov. 17:22).

The remedy is ‘a good word’ from a supportive friend. The word is ‘good’ in that it is timely, measured according to the need of the moment and confers grace (Eph. 4:29). Such a word brings ‘hope.’ The anticipated tragedy is not perceived to be as likely. The character of God comes again into view and, with it, other more pleasant possibilities. ‘A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!’ (Prov. 15:23)…‘the tongue of the wise brings healing’ (Prov. 12:18b).[1]

As we fill our minds with the hope-empowering truth of Scripture, our mouths will be more readily used by God to bring words of healing hope to those whose spirit is broken.

[Excerpted from Overcoming Depression: Help for Christians who Struggle.]

[1] John A. Kitchen, Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary (Fearn: Christian Focus Publications, 2006), 276.

In 2015, around 16.1 million adults aged 18 years or older in the U.S. had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, which represented 6.7 percent of all American adults. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States among people ages 15-44. Globally, it is estimated that 300 million struggle with depression.

Depression can be debilitating. Chances are very good that you already know this, personally, or know someone who struggles. Serious depression is a crippling state which may leave you unable to function normally and, sometimes, not even caring that it is so. You may feel sad. You may feel angry. You may not feel at all. You may simply be numb.

When this happens, where can you turn?

It may surprise you to know that spiritual men and women have wrestled with depression throughout the history of the world. One such person is David, the king of Israel, the man who wrote the greatest poem exalting the beauty and value of Scripture. In Psalm 119, we read an autobiographical snippet of his battle with depression, and how he worked through it with God’s help.

This study guide/workbook, was created to help you, and to help you help others. It is profitable for personal use, small group study, or as counseling homework.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 1. Depression Defined
Chapter 2. Working through Depression
Chapter 3. Seven Ways to Fight Depression
Appendix A: 40 Questions About Depression
Appendix B: When Christians Despair
Appendix C: More Scriptures to Study

One way of learning how to do something is by watching someone else do it poorly. When I swam in triathlons, I had a friend who worked out in the same pool. In his freestyle stroke, he had a habit of putting his hand in the water too far toward the centerline of his body, turning his body slightly sideways. Therefore, instead of gliding through the water, he snow-plowed the water in front of him. I learned a lot by watching him: I learned how not to swim. His mistake helped me correct a similar error in my own stroke.

Perhaps we can use that same approach as we consider how Samson went about finding a wife. I once heard a dating talk entitled “the dos and don’ts of Dating.” Unfortunately, in chapters 14–16 of the book of Judges, we find only the don’ts of dating. There are no dos in Samson’s story. He did everything wrongly.

…then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. so he came back and told his father and mother, “I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” (Judges 14:1–2)

3 DON’Ts OF DATING

Samson had seen girls before, but this one was a real knockout. So much so, he immediately decided he wanted to marry her. What’s wrong with that? Boy meets girl. Boy flips his lid. Boy asks girl to marry him. Love at first sight … how romantic! What was wrong with Samson’s approach to dating? Everything. Specifically, he made three disastrous mistakes.

  • Don’t #1 – Samson was visiting Timnah and saw “one of the daughters of the Philistines.” What was the problem with that? Just this: Israel had been commanded by God not to marry the daughters of the idolatrous, demon-worshipping peoples around them (Deuteronomy 7:3–4). It was a wise command. God didn’t want his people being led astray by the idol worship and occult practices of the Canaanites, the Philistines, and others. In other words, Samson had no business going to Timnah with a roving eye. Every girl there was off-limits. Unfortunately, Samson never learned his lesson. If it wasn’t a sweetheart in Timnah, it was a prostitute in Gaza (Judges 16:1), and when he grew tired of her, he pursued yet another Philistine lover, the delectable Delilah (16:4). The land of the Philistines was the home of a wicked and immoral people, and every time Samson went there, his lust pulled him into another disastrous relationship.
  • Don’t #2 – Besides looking for love in all the wrong places, Samson had another major problem in his approach to dating. How did Samson determine that a girl would be a good partner? “I saw a woman in Timnah” (Judges 14:2, emphasis added). Samson’s measure of a woman was her profile. Always the human hormone, Samson thought only of sex appeal when he searched for a wife. Her faith and her character were inconsequential. If the curve of her face and the cut of her hair were right, then it was full steam ahead.
  • Don’t #3Scripture continues…then his father and his mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me” (Judges 14:3). Proverbs says, foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15). Certainly that was true of Samson. His parents tried to warn him. They strongly encouraged him to reconsider his course of action. Samson’s response? “Dad, Mom, you’re idiots. I know better than you do.” Blinded by infatuation, Samson rejected his parents’ counsel. In so doing, he steamrolled right over one of god’s most important lines of defense protecting us against foolish decisions.

PRIDE GOES BEFORE DESTRUCTION

You probably know the rest of the story. Before the wedding feast was over, Samson’s beautiful bride had manipulated and betrayed him. She nagged and whined out of him the answer to the riddle he had invented to stump her wedding guests (Judges 14:16–17). Samson left the wedding in a fury and stormed out of town. Eventually, after several bouts of revenge and counter-revenge between Samson and his wife’s friends, Judges 15:8 tells us that Samson ended up living in a cave like an outlaw.

His self-styled approach to dating didn’t bring him the happiness and pleasure he thought it would. It brought only manipulation, distrust, faithlessness, in-law squabbles, anger, vengeance, and loneliness. Samson was forever putting himself in situations where he could become emotionally and physically involved with an unbeliever. And, inevitably, he did. He also measured a prospective companion only by her physical attractiveness rather than by her love for God. And when his parents tried to shine the light of wisdom on his bad decision, he turned a blind eye to their counsel. Those are three classic blunders, and Samson made them all.

[This blog post is excerpted from HELP! I’m Confused about Dating a mini-book by Joel James, a pastor in South Africa.]

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