WORD STUDY – CASTING השׁלק
Psalms 55:23: “Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never permit the righteous to be moved (collapse) .”
There is the story in Rabbinic literature of a poor man who had no wagon or donkey to carry his heavy bundles. He had to carry the load on his back and walk many miles with his burdens to the village. A wealthy man with a large wagon rode by. Seeing the poor man struggle with his burdens, he stopped and offered the man a ride. The poor man was more than grateful to have his burden eased.
After traveling some time, the wealthy man noticed that his companion was sitting with his bundles still upon his shoulders. “Why don’t you put your belongings down?” Asked the wealthy man. “There is plenty of room in my wagon to lay your burdens down. Are they not heavy?”
“Indeed they are,” sighed the poor man. “But you have been more than gracious to offer me a ride and I do not wish to take advantage of you by weighing down your wagon.”
When you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, He not only took your life, He also took on your burden. To not take your burden off your own shoulders and lay it upon Jesus makes you about as foolish as this poor man.
I know, that sounds really cool, but in the real world, I do a lot of casting but like the old fisherman, I just keep reeling my line back in. Just how do you go about this business of casting your burdens on Him?
I remember I asked this question in one of my Hebrew classes and I always recall an answer a student gave. “There are conditions.” We just don’t cast our burdens on the Lord unless we first meet the following conditions as found in Psalms 55:23.
First condition is that you must cast your burdens on Him. My father was a dedicated fisherman and I learned a few things about casting. You have to know where to cast your line. Next you need to swing your pole back and forth to build up momentum to cast it. During my time of silence God taught me something about prayer. I would just hit the dirt and say “God, please help me or give me strength.” God showed me that He uses prayer to give us understanding. Talk to God about the help you need, why you need, and so forth. Half the time God answers a prayer and we don’t even realize it because we never talk it over with Him to understand just what it is we need.
The word cast in this verse is hasheleke. This is an infinitive in an imperative form. In other words it is not that we have the opportunity to cast our burdens upon Him, we are commanded to do it. The Father is ordering us to do it. Our service to Him is pretty useless if we walk around with a heavy burden. You are not going to catch any fish if you keep that hook and bait with you. God wants to take that burden away so we are free to serve Him.
Note, too that this is also an infinitive. We are to continually be casting our burdens upon Him. This is more than just going to the front of the church and having the preacher pray over you every Sunday. This is a day by day, moment by moment discipline which keeps us before the presence of God.
In order for my father to cast his line where he could successfully catch fish he had to be in the presence of water just as we need to be in the presence of God when we cast our burden upon Him. Sometime we just don’t have to get into the presence of God, we need help right now, but if we practice the presence of God we can be in His presence all the time cast it into a lake or stream. That is why the enemy will do whatever he can to distract us from the presence of God, to get us to focus so much on ourselves that we remove ourselves from His presence.
The word burden is really interesting. It comes from a root word shalak. In its Semitic root is it a picture a flower being blown away from it’s plant by the wind. This is interesting because a burden is more of the idea of losing something rather than carrying something. When we think of a burden we think of a heavy weight you carry. The Hebrew concept of a burden is something that deprives you of the flower of your life. What is the flower of your life, a relationship? A job? Maybe it is the presence of God. When trouble or burdens come they rob you of this flower in your life, it blows that flower away. You see a shalak isn’t the burden, it is what that burden steals from you.
Note the last condition here: “He will never let the righteous man be moved.” The final condition is that you must be righteous or that you are seeking to do the right thing. When you seek to do the right thing, what are you doing? You are practicing the presence of God. Thus, if God and His presence is that flower in your life, you just cast that shalak or burden to Him and He will insure that it does not destroy that flower in your life.