The holidays are upon us. Normally, this would be a festive time, a time of celebration. Perhaps, things are different for you this year and this is not the “season to be jolly.” You are a beleaguered by bills. You’re overwhelmed with worries. You’re feeling discouraged and defeated, helpless and hopeless. Maybe circumstances in your life are so bad you’re weary of life and ready to say “farewell to it all”? Perhaps, you too could have penned the words of the psalmist, who three times wrote, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” (Psa. 42:5, 11; 43:5)
David uses the phrase “cast down” to describe the condition of his soul. As a shepherd, David would declare sheep as “cast down” when their fleece was wet, they were on their backs and unable to restore themselves and return to their feet. The affect of being cast down is expressed by the psalmist second question, “Why am I disquieted within myself?” Restless and tormented, helpless and hopeless, facing certain death, unless their shepherd rescued them.
The word soul is nephesh in Hebrew and psyche in the Greek, from which we derive our English word psychology. The translation of these two words refer to “the life principle” within the body; to the mind, emotions, conscience and will. Combining the word soul with the phrase cast down the psalmist declares his despairing and dire condition. Seeing his soul as cast down, he is incapable of self-correction. Much like Humpty Dumpty, who has had a great fall and could not pull himself together again, so the cast down soul is doomed to depression and death. Just as all the king’s horsemen proved futile in saving Humpty, so mental health professionals cannot save the human soul. Cognitive and rational-emotive therapies alone cannot restore the mind and emotions. Religious and moral therapies alone cannot rescue the conscience. Existential and psychodynamic therapies alone cannot give hope and passion to the will.
Only God can save our souls. Only God can resurrect the soul cast down.
Read carefully and be encouraged by the rest of David’s Psalm and ask yourself “Why am I cast down, discouraged and depressed?
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.