The Cheyenne Indians of the 1800s, living on the Great Plains of the United States, had six warrior societies. Perhaps the greatest of these was known as the Dog Soldiers. English journalist Henry Stanley, upon viewing them, described the Dog Soldiers as the "Spartans of the plains." Each one wore a sash around his waist, called a dog rope, with a picket pin at the end. This picket pin was a pointed stake, typically tied to the end of a rope, that could be driven into the ground to tether a horse, which could then graze but not wander off.
In the case of the Dog Soldiers,
The pin was driven into the ground as a mark of resolve in combat. When a Dog Soldier was staked to the ground in order to cover the retreat of his companions, he was required to remain there even if death was the consequence. The Dog Man could pull the pin from the ground only if his companions reached safety or another Dog Soldier released him from his duty. (Richard S. Grimes, "Cheyenne Dog Soldiers" )
Try to imagine being a Dog Soldier. The tribe is under attack by a strong enemy, and the battle has turned against it. Everyone must flee to preserve his life and the lives of his loved ones, but the enemy is pressing the fight, eager to wipe out every man, woman, and child. So, despite being alone against hundreds, perhaps thousands, we turn to face the adversary, uncoil our dog rope, and drive our pin into the ground, prepared at least to delay the enemy so that others can escape.
Realistically, what chance do we have? Maybe it would be best to pull the pin or untie the dog rope and turn and run. But we cannot, for we are Dog Soldiers who had committed to give our lives, if necessary, when we were welcomed into the warrior society.
David charges Solomon to be strong, to be a man. God charges Joshua to be strong and courageous. Each of these men was being called to take up the mantle of leadership and guide God's people faithfully. That takes courage and strength, for often the leader will find himself as the only one staked out and willing to fight and protect his people.
But not only are the high profile leaders called to be strong and courageous, each and every man and women is called to be strong and courageous in their service to Christ. We are all called to lead in the fight against encroaching darkness.
Sometimes we may find ourselves alone, the only one dogged in and willing to stand. Nevertheless, our call is to fight to the end.
"Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them" (Joshua 1:6).