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Depression in the Bible: Moses

Moses is Burdened

In Numbers 11:10-15 Moses cries out to God,

” I am not able to bear all these people alone.  The burden is too heavy for me.  If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now if I have found favor in Your sight and do not let me see my wretchedness!”

Moses was worn out.  He was weary.  He had a lot on him.  Right?  Think about it.

The Creator of the Universe had come to him in the desert in a burning bush that was not consumed and had told Moses to go get the children of Israel and bring them out of Egypt.   Moses tried to tell God that he was not the man for the job.  God was obviously mistaken.

Then God went and insisted.  Moses was trying to be nice so he gave in and then God disappeared and here was Moses with no resources, no help, doing a job he never wanted to do.  God was nowhere to be found and poor old Moses was trying to provide food and water for over six million people.  No wonder he was so stressed.  What a lousy God.

What?  That’s not how the story goes?  Are you sure?  Because here we have Moses saying things like –

Why have You afflicted Your servant?

You have laid the burden of all these people on me.

You told me to, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child,’ to the land which You swore to their fathers.

I am not able to bear all these people alone.

The burden is too heavy for me.

Please kill me here and now!

Moses sounds like an unreasonable two-year old who needs a nap.  I dare say he must have felt like an unreasonable two-year old who needs nap!  Do you imagine if we were able to go back in time and interview Moses he would tell us that even while he was fussing and fuming and whining and saying these things to God part of him was standing off to the side just watching and hearing all that he was saying and realizing as it came out of his mouth how ridiculous it was?

Who can honestly say they haven’t been there?

Think about some key words Moses was throwing out there and some implied ones as well:

Responsible: Answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power, control, or management; involving accountability
Obligation:  Something by which a person is bound or obliged to do certain things, and which arises out of a sense of duty; a binding promise, contract
Stress:  A physical or psychological stimulus that can produce mental tension or physiological reactions that may lead to illness. Mental, emotional, or physical strain or tension
Anxious:  Full of mental distress or uneasiness because of fear of danger or misfortune; greatly worried,troubled in mind, tense because of possible misfortune or danger. Concerned, disturbed, apprehensive, fearful, uneasy
Worry:  To torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret, to torment with cares, anxieties, troubles
Burden:  That which is carried; A load; that which is borne with difficulty; obligation; onus: the burden of leadership.

In Moses’ defense it is true that he did not have Jesus. (Although Jesus was the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush) He did not have the reassuring, comforting scriptures of the New Testament.

Matthew 11:28-30  [Jesus said,]  “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

1 Peter 5:6-7  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

However, Moses had God.

Pillar of CloudExodus 13:21-22    And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.

Numbers 14:14    They will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, LORD, are among these people; that You, LORD, are seen face to face and Your cloud stands above them, and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.

Pillar of FireNehemiah 9:12    Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, And by night with a pillar of fire, To give them light on the road Which they should travel.

Nehemiah 9:19   Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, To lead them on the road; Nor the pillar of fire by night, To show them light, And the way they should go.

What else do we know about Moses?

He was a very humble man.

Humble:  not proud or arrogant; modest: having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one’s merits and importance; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions;  having or showing regard for the decencies of behavior

He was in direct contact with God.

Numbers 12:1-9    Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses.  (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)  Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” So the three came out. Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. Then He said,

“Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak to him in a dream.

Not so with My servant Moses;
He is faithful in all My house.
I speak with him face to face,
Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;
And he sees the form of the Lord.

Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant Moses?”

So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed.

He was timid and meek.

God promised to be with him. 

Exodus 3:10-12    (Jesus, “the Angel of the Lord” talking to Moses from the burning bush in the desertI will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”  So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you:  When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

He did not have confidence.

His self-esteem and/or his confidence was so low that he was willing to tell God no and to make God angry.  

Frankly, ironically, one would think it would take more guts to be willing to tell God no and to make God angry than to just do what God tells you to do.  That’s something to ponder on a while. 

Exodus 4:1-14    Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’”

Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth?  Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind?  Have not I, the Lord?  Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”

So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses

Moses took too much on himself.  

Moses set himself up to fail. 

Moses needed to learn that sometimes the better part of management is delegation. 

Moses needed a mentor.

Exodus 18:13-24    And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening.

So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?”

And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.”

So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.

Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you:   Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do.  Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge.

So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.”

So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.

Moses must have been an intelligent man.

We know that he was humble but humility is not always the same as knowing when to get some good advice and when to take it to heart.  Moses had respect for his father-in-law and he listened to the wise counsel offered but most importantly he acted on it and probably saved himself from a nervous breakdown.   Of course, you still have to scratch your head a bit and wonder why Moses would feel compelled to just do what Jethro told him to do yet he insisted on arguing with God.


There are six Greek words from the Bible that translate into the equivalent modern day English words that we associate with light, moderate, and severe depression.  They range from sadness to acute mental anguish, loss of hope, despair, the inability to enjoy life.


Depression is real. It ranges from discouragement all the way to despair and hopelessness.

From a modern day medical point of view, if a person experiences at least five of these symptoms for one month they have major depression. Mild depression would typically be defined as having two to four of these symptoms for over one month:

  • deep sadness or emptiness
  • apathy, loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
  • agitation or restlessness, physical hyperactivity or inactivity
  • sleep disturbances
  • weight/appetite disturbances
  • diminished ability to think or concentrate
  • feelings of excessive guilt, self-reproach or worthlessness
  • feelings of fatigue or loss of energy
  • morbid thoughts of death or suicide

Often times children of God are afraid to admit they are suffering because they feel it will be seen as a spiritual problem.  Depression CAN be the result of a spiritual problem, of sin in one’s life, and of disobedience to God, but it does not always follow it IS a spiritual problem just because you are a believer.

There are many factors that cause depression and usually there are more than one at work. These are common factors known to contribute to depression:

  • not having proper nutrition whether eating too little, too much, or not eating the right foods for your body
  • chemicals such as prescription drugs, illicit drugs, or common accepted substances such as caffeine and sugar
  • hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can leave you feeling exhausted, depleted, lacking energy and mental clarity
  • hormonal imbalances
  • allergies
  • heavy metals
  • mental, physical, and sexual abuse from your past that you have not dealt with and overcome the emotional scars
  • microbial over-growths/toxins
  • any number of medical conditions (stroke, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, diabetes, thyroid)
  • natural light deprivation as sunlight is a key factor not only in mood but also in natural production of key vitamins your body needs to function properly
  • imbalances of naturally occurring chemicals in the brain along with other neuro and psychological disorders
  • life trauma such as severe loss as the death of a loved one, close friend, family member, also the loss of a job, or of the support of a church or group of friends

There is a huge difference between having the “blues” or the “blahs” or having a bad day or even having a bad week, and severe clinical depression.  There is no shame in admitting you are weak or have need of help.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10    And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Many of the Bible’s most faithful suffered from bouts of depression, including Jesus.  As in anything, if you are struggling, or sense that you have or may have some level of depression, always, go to God first.

Proverbs 3:5-6    Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

If you even remotely suspect it is a spiritual problem then talk to God about how you can make it right.

1 John 1:9    If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

But also remember that if you fell off your roof and your arm was broken you would get in the back of the ambulance without thinking twice about it.  It is doubtful you would sit around worrying if you fell off the roof, [or down the stairs, or slipped on ice on a winter’s day, or whatever misfortune befell you that would render you in a situation that called for an emergency room visit], whether or not sin in your life got you to that point.  Maybe it did or maybe it did not but if your arm is broken you need a doctor to set it.  Likewise, if your mental state is broken, seek professional help.

Proverbs 1:5    A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel

Proverbs 2:6    For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding

Proverbs 16:22    Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it. But the correction of fools is folly.

God calls us to have life and to have it more abundantly.  Letting pride or embarrassment prevent you from being able to have and enjoy your life is as much of a sin as any sin you may think you have committed to get you to the point of depression in the first place.

The Cure for Moses’ Depression

Even though he was exhausted and somewhat dramatic in his presentation, Moses went to God.  Best thing he could have done other than going to God sooner or simply just depending on God to provide in the first place.  God heard him and answered.

Numbers 11:16-17    So the Lord said to Moses:  “Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.

Most people at one time or another in their lives have experienced a “Moses breakdown.”   You feel you have been pushed too far and it makes no difference whose fault it is.   Weary is weary no matter if you brought it on yourself or somehow you came into it through oppression beyond your control.  

In an ideal situation, the child of God will learn to practice some good habits to keep themselves from reaching Moses Meltdown but since life is not always ideal, an abbreviation of best practice is still in order.

Seek God First

Make time for God.   Make it a priority to set aside time every day to commune with God.  Read His Word.  Pray.  Meditate.  Inquire of Him.  Talk to Him.  This is not a chore.  It is a privilege.  Don’t be like Moses.  He had the Creator of the Universe hanging out with him, watching over him, promising to be there for him, and he acted like God was nowhere to be found.  It sounds mind-boggling but it is exactly what each of us is guilty of on a phenomenal scale most of our lives.

If you consult with God, He promises to be there for you. 

Psalm 32:8    I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

You have a road map with instructions available.  There is really no excuse for getting lost.

Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Proverbs 3:5-6    Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Isaiah 48:17    Thus says the Lord, Your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go.”

Philippians 4:6    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Plan your work.  Work your plan.

Good organizational skills, some forethought, and planning ahead are simple ways to keep life from getting the best of you.

Proverbs 21:5    The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.

Proverbs 24:27    Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.

Do not try to do everything yourself.  DELEGATE.  Say NO sometimes.

If you are continuously overextended, stay exhausted, never have any “me time”, haven’t had a vacation since you can remember when – it is very likely your own fault.

Often times, what would on the surface appear to be a generous soul, a good deed doer, at worker bee for Jesus, is often a person with some serious issues.   Now, just because you are busy doesn’t mean you are a bad person or that you need therapy!  Take it easy before you get upset or defensive.   But consider this:

Do you find yourself bearing responsibilities that are not yours?

Do you feel compelled to “fix” things?

Do you frequently  do things for people but do not feel amply or properly lauded or appreciated?

Do you try to impress people with your generosity?

Do you often feel that your efforts are rarely reciprocated in a manner that is acceptable to you?

Do you feel sorry for yourself?

Do you feel put upon?

Do you find yourself keeping track of all your good deeds?

Do you give in order to receive?

Is your happiness, mood, or self-esteem directly linked to your works?

Do you feel that doing for others, meeting their needs, or giving them things is the only way they will like or accept you?

Do you feel guilty if you take a day off?  or a vacation?  or if you say NO?

Do you feel selfish if sometimes you do something for yourself instead of for someone else?

These are some serious questions to meditate on for a believer. It is very important and key to our mental health to know the difference between service and bondage. God loves a cheerful giver and is not looking for obligatory hoop jumpers.   If you ever do anything because you feel like you will get a frowney face on your chart on God’s refrigerator instead of your check mark or gold star you better take a time out and refocus.

Your hope, your being, your past, present, and future, and most definitely your self-esteem should begin and end in Jesus Christ.  If your self-worth is tied to praise from any source outside of God’s love for you and His perfect plan for your life you better take a time out and refocus.

At the same time, it is wise and sage advice to be aware of brothers and sisters in Christ and to make sure the load is spread evenly.  Don’t wait for God to show up in a burning bush.  If you know the same few people take on the lion’s share of everything done in your church don’t wait for someone to ask, offer to help.  It doesn’t just have to be a church issue either.  If you know of someone who needs a night out –  offer to babysit for free.  If you know someone needs their lawn mowed –  go do it.

Life, all of life, is about balance.  Don’t take on too much.  Don’t sit back and do too little.  Offer to help when help is needed but don’t bite off more than you can chew.  Say No if you need to.  Say NO if you want to sometimes.  Do something for others.  Do something for yourself.  Don’t be a martyr.  Jesus died on the cross, He doesn’t need you up there.

Proverbs 15:22    Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.

Galatians 6:2 Bear One Another's BurdensGalatians 6:2    Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-17    Comfort each other and edify one another.  Recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. Comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. Pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Don’t be afraid to tell God anything.   Newsflash:  He already knows.

We can’t keep things from God.   He already knows.  He knows your deepest, darkest secret.  He knows things about you you don’t even want to tell yourself.  There is no point in suffering silently.  Talk to God.  Be perfectly honest.  Even if it is not pretty.  There is nothing you can tell God that will make Him stop loving you.

Hebrews 4:11-16    The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Psalm 62
Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.

He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.

In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.

Do not trust in oppression,
Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase,
Do not set your heart on them.

God has spoken once,
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God.
Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy;
For You render to each one according to his work.

Share A VerseNext:  Depression in the Bible:  King Saul  >

Depression in the Bible: Moses
Depression in the Bible: King Saul
Depression in the Bible: Hannah
Depression in the Bible: Jonah
Depression in the Bible: Elijah

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5 comments on “Depression in the Bible: Moses

  1. harman747
    June 11, 2014

    Reblogged this on harman747's Blog.

  2. Pingback: 120627–George Hach’s Inner Disciplines Journal–Wednesday | George Hach's Blog

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This entry was posted on June 15, 2012 by in All Sufficient God, Angels, Anger, Benefits of Serving God, Bible Stories, Christianity, Comfort, Compassion, Deliverance, Depression, Exodus, Faith, Favor of God, Fear of the Lord, Galatians, General Epistles, Glory of God, God, God, God Hears Our Prayers, God of Restoration, God Our Defense, God Our Refuge, God Our Rock, God Our Salvation, God Rules, Gospels, Grace, Guidance, Healing, Hebrews, Help, Historical Old Testament Books, Hope, Humble, I Thessalonians, Inspiration, Isaiah, Jesus Christ, Life, Love, Major Prophets, Matthew, Meditate, Mercy, Nehemiah, New Testament, Numbers, Obedience, Old Testament, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Pauline Epistles, Peace, Pentateuch or The Five Books of Moses, Philippians, Power, Praise, Prayer, Promises, Protection, Proverbs, Provision, Psalms, Relief, Repentance, Seek, Servant, Soul, Sovereign, Spirit, Spirituality, Strength, Trinity, Trust, Truth, Understanding, Victory, Waiting on God, Wisdom Books, Words of Jesus and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .



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June 2012
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