Week of July  4 – 10
A Hand Up - Man as Battle Buddy

“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.” – Psalm 42:11 ESV

In my 36-plus years of serving in the U.S. Army, I have witnessed many occasions when a soldier has gotten himself into a position or situation on the battlefield that he cannot get out of by himself. If he remains in that vulnerable place, it could cause great injury or even death. Here in Psalm 42, David uses a phrase twice that only a true shepherd would understand; it’s the phrase “cast down.” 
In his classic book  A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, W. Phillip Keller gives a striking picture of the care and gentleness of a shepherd. In verse 3, when David says, “He restores my soul,” he once again uses language every shepherd would understand. Sheep are built in such a way that if they fall over on their side and then onto their back, it is very difficult for them to get up again. Instead, they flail their legs in the air, bleat, and cry. After a few hours on their backs, gas begins to collect in their stomachs, the stomach hardens, the air passage is cut off, and the sheep will eventually suffocate. This is referred to as a “cast down” position. In verse 11, David is using this shepherding term to refer to the condition of his soul. 
Like a warrior who is trapped in a dangerous place and under fire, sheep who find themselves in the cast down position are living on borrowed time. Sheep often and very easily get into the cast down position by collecting so much dirt, briars, and debris in their wool that when they lie down and roll over, they cannot get back up on their own. In order for the sheep to survive, it must be picked up and placed upright by the shepherd. Only the shepherd can rescue the sheep! 
The wonderful news is that when God finds a warrior flat on his back, He reaches down to lift that man up. He sets him on his feet and gets the spiritual circulation flowing again while bringing him back into the strong protection of His direction and strength. 
God still restores the souls of men. He wants to fill your life with new thoughts and dreams to replace the clutter and debris that put your heart in danger. “Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3 ESV). So, when we get into the “no win” position that David was in, we should hear and heed his advice: “Hope in God!”
The strongest and bravest of men can find himself where he never planned to be: on his back, kicking and trying to right the course of his life. Even though God is the ultimate Battle Buddy who picks us up and rescues us, we also need guys to come alongside us as battle buddies to point us in the right direction when we are weighed down. Once we get back on our feet, we will need to help other guys as a battle buddy. There’s never been a more important time, because men, we need each other. Every man occasionally needs a hand up.
  • Men, are you picking up any unnecessary baggage that is weighing down your walk with God? Any thoughts, habits, or attitudes that, if left the way they are now, will endanger your spiritual walk, maybe even leave you on your back and vulnerable to the enemy?   
  • As you experience God’s rescue from desperate situations, how can you come alongside a guy who is struggling and be his battle buddy? Can you think of a man in your life who needs your prayers and encouragement? 
  • Ask God to help you stay healthy in your walk with God so that when the battle intensifies and you see other men in trouble, you are ready, willing, and able to make the difference for which God has trained you and give those guys a hand up!