Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

by Mike Ratliff

5 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 6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. (Psalm 42:5-6 ESV)

It is a good thing that we realize that our Soul is cast down, that our spiritual fulfillment is just a shadow of what it once was not that long ago when we walked close with our Lord. Some of you reading this are in the valley. God has impressed upon your heart a dissatisfaction with or given you a sense of shallowness within your Christian walk. Your walk has taken on a veneer of superficiality. Where once there was an intense joy born from a close intimate walk with our Lord, there is now some sort of barrier fixed between Him and you. You feel like you need to pray more, worship more, surrender more to His Lordship. There must be something that can be done to attain that tender intimacy again! However, there is also a fear that too much water has gone under the bridge. Too much rebellion or anarchy within your heart is being used by our enemy to accuse you of being unworthy of even being called a child of God. Since you have not been walking closely with our Lord, you have taken up the reins of your life thereby losing the Joy of Lord because of an eroding of the level of abiding in our Lord that you once had. This also seems to enhance your ability to hear the sneering accusations of our enemy. You have a deep desire to get back to the sweetness and warmth you once had with our Lord as He gave you His Joy freely as you were able to abide in Him because you were Spirit-led. Now, your Soul is in control and that means that a mist of spiritual blindness has descended over your spiritual eyes. Your reasoning is bound to your flesh whereas when you were Spirit-led you saw the Lord’s truth clearly and could easily see the depth of spiritual blindness in many of the professing Christians all around you.

If this describes you or someone you know then take heart. It is a good thing that God has caused our Souls to be cast down. Why? He is using our sense of unease or guilt or despair to draw us to Him. He is preparing us to deeply drink and feast on Him by giving us a hunger for Him that is deeper than we can comprehend. Waiting at the end of this path of Soul heaviness is the throne of grace where we confess and repent in brokenness to a depth that we could only reach by His grace. As we reach the end of ourselves, the Lord then will reach out His arms to draw us to Him. When He does this we will find a deep hunger or thirst for Him that is analogous to someone who has become dehydrated in a desert because they have neglected to drink water. Our neglect of our walk before the Lord has caused us to become spiritually parched. The Lord, in His perfect timing, will then cause us to see our foolishness.

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2 ESV)

In our despair and agony of a spiritually parched heart God opens our spiritual eyes and the nagging unease and discontent that had been plaguing us is now seen for what it is. We can now see the truth of our walking away from our Lord. We have left the living water in the oasis as we trekked down a path of our own choosing that led only to broken cisterns and dried up streams in a dry and thirsty land. This startles us because up to this time we were walking in the deception of spiritual blindness because of our rebellion. Whereas we thought we would find spiritual water in the next cistern or stream we now see that our only source of spiritual sustenance is found in the living water of our Lord. We must find our way back to the oasis of truth where we used to live in peace and joy with our Lord. How, oh how, did I come to this horrid place? How do I find my way back? We cry out in despair as we turn our anger upon ourselves, but this only leads to more anguish and tears as we remember how close we used to walk with our Lord and serve Him with gladness and Joy.

3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. 5 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 6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. (Psalm 42:3-6 ESV)

God uses our anguish to build a determination in our hearts to humble ourselves before Him in repentance. We sense that God is not going to cast us away afterall. He is our loving Heavenly Father who is gracious and forgiving to His children. With this realization, we turn our hearts towards our Father as He draws us to return back to Him for genuine spiritual water and food.

7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:7-8 ESV)

We fall into His presence at His oasis of truth while drinking deeply from His living waters. The agony of our spiritual dehydration is fading, but we still are confused at how we got so far from our Lord. We even ask God why He allowed us to stray.

9 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:9-10 ESV)

Of course, our straying was our own doing. God reveals to us our exact path that we took into spiritual blindness. Where did it begin? It began when we thought we were sufficient in ourselves. We were astute enough to see into the darkness. We took a step into the darkness and did not listen to all the warnings to not let go of our devotion to our Lord which keeps our Hope in Him alone. We neglected to keep our hearts focused on Him and so we stopped relying on Him alone for fulfillment. The moment we sought fulfillment in our own ways we took a step into spiritual blindness that caused us to step away from our Lord’s oasis of truth into an attractive looking path that only lead to broken cisterns and dried up streams. Then as our foolishness is revealed to our hearts, as we repent in His arms, we vow to never do that again, but then we are reminded that that is foolishness because it depends upon our own self-righteousness. Then God shows that the only hope we have of never doing anything like again is to hope in Him alone and trust Him for our fulfillment and no where else.

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. (Psalm 42:11 ESV)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ. If God pricked your heart as you read this, rejoice! He is drawing you to repentance to be fulfilled in Him alone. He is calling His children to leave the worthless, broken cisterns they have built that hold no water in the dry and thirsty lands of rebellion. He is calling them to turn back to Him to be fed from His table, to drink from Him, to fast from the world and feast on Him. There is no guarantee that when we do this that we will escape ridicule or persecution for turning back to God. However, this is an eternal decision while all rebellion has to offer is temporal and is only a mirage. Come back to the oasis of truth to the living water of our Lord.

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6 thoughts on “Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

  1. And David said, “Restore unto me the joy of my salvation…”.

    When we really boil it down, we have eternal life. All the problems that drag us down are temporal while our inheritance is incorruptible and reserved for us in heaven. Against the backdrop of guarenteed life eternal why should we be despondant?

    We all experience some discouragement but we need to say, as I’ve encouraged others to do, “I have eternal life – yes, ETERNAL life – so what care I for anything in this world? So rejoice my soul you are free forever!”

    A good teaching, Mike. Again.

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  2. Thanks Rick, and I agree with you completely. I have eternal life, Oh Lord, keep me on the path that leads to You and from falling in love with any temporal thing.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  3. Yes, the light is His and His light is brilliant. We are His servants, His vessels to be used for His glory alone. The message is His, our desperate need is to heed it.

    Thank you my sister for you kind and encouraging words.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  4. This one is a really good message and I am delighted to find this site. and In fact I have added it to my google homepage so that i can read articles everyday. And particularly about this message I have to say that its very touching and in fact I have been feeling far from God for a while. and i have been having deep distress of heart as well and i so many times feel that my cries and tears are unheard.. it could be true that my pleas are not reasonable, but then even though i have prayed a lot , i’ve not found anything wrong.. well, in such times I put all my hope in God and trust that he will never fail me but answer my needs, and so your message has been of great encouragement for me. thanks a lot and God bless!

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  5. Paul,

    I believe that most Christians walk around presenting a false front of peace and joy while inside they are just like you described yourself, if not much worse. Thank you for your kind words and I pray that God will use His truth in your Heart to grow you unto Christlikeness for His Glory Alone.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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