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The Monthly Bread Archives

"David Encouraged Himself In the Lord"

1 Sam 30:6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him because the soul of all the people was grieved ... but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.

Leaders at times can catch the brunt of it when it comes to the blame for failure and David was no exception. Champion boxers have an expression that goes "You're only as good as your last fight," and this seems to be the case with King David. With all the past battles he has won in proving the hand of the Lord was with him, he still faces mutiny among his men. Returning back to their camp they are surprised to discover that the Amalekites had kidnapped their wives and children. There is nothing ordinary about this trial since it strikes hard and deep to that which is closest to their hearts. As a matter of fact, this is such a low point for the people and David alike, that they literally weep away their strength until nothing is left. Have you ever reached the place where you have been emptied of all hope in self? There isn't much left, is there? Widowers have described this debilitating experience in detail and have sometimes wrestled with it for years. David's distress does not end with loss of his own family, it is also over the fear of reprisal from his followers. But in all this the minstrel shepherd King does not give up. He does a remarkable thing. Resisting any tendency of self-pity, he decides at the end of himself to seek the lord. The bible tells us that "David encouraged himself in the Lord" meaning he worshipped the Lord and revived his strength to take action. This is more than human fortitude, it is the pouring out of one's soul before the Lord in the knowledge that only His enabling power is capable of dealing with something beyond our control.

There will always be those perplexing circumstances in life. Job 5:7 says "Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward." This means just as the blade of an ax is applied to the grinding stone to be sharpened, so will the life of man experience adversity in refining him. In the process it may kick up all kinds of debris, yet out of such chaos will come God's arrangement and order for life. Like David, we need to learn how to roll the heaviness of heart over to the lord in times of tribulation. Things have way of becoming hard but as the hymn goes, "We often carry burdens to heavy because we've not taken them to the Lord in prayer."

Ps 8:2 says "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength." Out of the mouth of children, who are the most vulnerable human beings in terms of no ability to defend themselves, God has ordained that they have His strength. This is because they praise God where the proud will not. Jesus quoting this verse from Psalm 8 to the pharisees in Matt 21:15-16, may at first seem to differ in His wording but actually embellishes the principal when He teaches that the source of strength ordained for babes is by "perfected praise." Perfection meaning it has been tested and found to be complete. Tested how? In the weak place, that we may know God's divine strength. Approached how? With a humble heart as a child! Thus, it is to our advantage that when we find ourselves in weak situations, we respond with praise to strengthen our heart.

Recently, my sister Jill needed a throat operation to remove nodes on her voice box that was the result of years of abuse. The combination of yelling at camp without a microphone and using her voice improperly became a occupational hazard that could no longer be ignored. After the surgery, doctors told her she should take it easy, but could get the use of her voice back within 3-7 days, otherwise it could take up to a year. Two weeks went by and still nothing happened. All that could be heard from her was a faint whisper and there was a growing suspicion that maybe the procedure was unsuccessful.

She came up for prayer on Sunday morning at church and as we prayed, I felt the Lord told me to tell her that when she tries her voice out tomorrow, she should start her day with praise. She called me the next morning excited and praising God over the return of her voice. My sister may have known praise before but my feeling is that she will be much more fervent now. In the place of weakness and testing, she has found a newly perfected praise which will serve to strengthen her walk. Furthermore, my sister's praise experience has produced a testimony overflowing to others. News has spread at the camp that her voice has been healed. People who work with Jill have approached and acknowledged that they have heard her God has healed her. Jill continues to glorify God by giving more praise to God and says "He is your God too."

King Jehosphaphat found himself in a similar predicament threatened by a fierce and overwhelming enemy. Being outnumbered in size and strength without a clue as what to do, he turns to God to say:

2 Chr 20:12 O Lord God ... We have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do; but OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE.
13 And all Judah STOOD BEFORE THE LORD, with their little ones, their wives and their children.

Clearly, when one is weak and at wit's end, this is a time when either your faith will move the mountain or the mountain will remove your faith. In any event, we must turn to God to encourage ourselves. It is then we can come and stand in His presence, worshipping Him with the attitude that says "Lord, regardless of the circumstances, "our eyes are upon thee" for the strength and the know-how. King Jehosphaphat found this ability in God that day, as the tribe of Judah went out in God's leading. They won the battle, knowing it was "the Lords battle", but not before they as a people of praise had first stood before the Lord in their weakness and encouraged themselves.