Upside down sheep!
It was a quirky YouTube video that made me laugh. A shepherd in rural Scotland was leading his small flock of sheep across a country road. When they got to the other side, one didn’t make it. The camera panned back across the road to find that one missing sheep on his back with feet flailing in the air. No matter what that sheep did, he couldn’t roll over and stand up. Gently the shepherd picked him up and put him back on his four feet and he scampered back to the flock.
I’ve had days like that. Something knocked me over and I couldn’t get up. The flock moves on as I lie there kicking and bleating for help. Pitiful. Sometimes, life can simply overwhelm you and force you into a position of helpless disgrace. Like that pathetic sheep, you feel so vulnerable and weak.
It may be an illness that puts you on your back. Or, maybe you lost your job during the COVID pandemic, and used up your savings to survive. Others have suffered the death of a loved one or a messy divorce. Many factors can knock a person off their feet and send them into an upside-down position. Then what?
The Biblical word “cast” means to throw with some degree of force. It can refer to casting nets in fishing or casting lots while voting. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, the word requires great strength as we are charged to “cast down (demolish) imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.”
Sometimes the word cast is coupled with other words like cast away, cast forth, cast off, and cast out. And that is what David did in Psalm 42:11, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”
Possibly you know that the old English term “cast” was used for a sheep that had rolled over on its’ back and couldn’t get up. A sheep that was “cast” had suddenly become quite vulnerable to the weather and predatory animals. Also, when a sheep is on its back, digestive gasses can form in its’ stomach that often suffocate the animal. Unless rescued, the sheep is doomed.
Could David have been thinking about a “cast” sheep when he wrote Psalm 42? He certainly had seen many of them in his career as a shepherd. And Christ, our Good Shepherd, has seen his own children upside-down in fear, sorrow, and other shocking circumstances. But as David said, in those situations “Hope in God.”
If you find yourself in a horrendous upside-down situation, I encourage you to trust in God. He will rescue you and put you on your feet.