#15 October 11, 2005
Encourage Yourself in the Lord
"David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David encouraged himself in the Lord" (1 Samuel 30:6)
David, in exile in the land of the Philistines, was running from Saul. The Bible tells us that he lived in Ziklag for a year and four months. During that time he fought many battles and was always successful. One day the commanders no longer wanted David to fight with them, so he was sent back to Ziklag. Upon arriving he found that the Amalekites had carried out a raid and burned the city. Everyone including the women and children were taken captive. The captives were intended for sale as slaves in the markets of Egypt. Even David's two wives had been carried off. His men turned against him, they wanted to stone him even though he was in great distress of his own. But the Bible says.."David encouraged himself in the Lord" (1 Samuel 30:6). What does that mean? In that time of intense trial, what did David do? I believe that the answer is three-fold.
First I think that encouraging yourself in the Lord means remembering your former joy. A beautiful example of this is written for us in Psalm 42, verses 1-5. While it is not penned by David, but connected with the Levitical family called the Sons of Korah, it is an example of remembering happier times during a time of great hardship. The psalmist is longing for God. He is being taunted by his enemies (vs. 1-3). But he deliberately turns his mind to thinking of a happier time. He remembers the former joy of going up to the house of God, actually leading the procession, "with shouts of joy and thanksgiving" (v.4). Then the tables of his feelings turn and he says, "Hey, why are you downcast, o my soul (why are you worried or upset)? Why so disturbed within me?" He's talking to himself and says, "Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him my Savior and my God" (v.5). He becomes confident that God will do something good. What a change in attitude just by setting his mind to the joys he has experienced in the past and away from his fears of the future!
Along with remembering happier times in the past, recalling God's faithfulness to you is the second step in encouraging yourself in the Lord. Deliberately think back to the times in your life when you had no answers, but God gave them to you. Recall impossible situations that you thought you would never find your way out of, but God.....Remember that money you needed? You were provided for. Remember that illness? You were healed. Remember that broken relationship? It was restored. Remember your wayward son or daughter in trouble? They're on the right track now. We all have so many testimonies to the faithfulness of our Savior. And if He did it then, He'll do it again. He is "the same, yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
Last, meditate on scripture instead of your problems. When fear knocks on the door, answer it with faith. Fear will not be there anymore. And that faith will be a result of hearing the word of God (see Romans 10:17). Your faith in God will increase as your fear decreases. Just like muscle replaces fat through exercise, exercise your muscles of faith to replace fear. Read the Word..speak it out loud concerning your situation. Every problem, question or circumstance is addressed in God's word. Search for your own personal scriptures -- search like you're looking for treasure. Claim those promises and believe them -- not the devil or your feelings. Satan is just a big old copy cat! He cannot do what God does, so he just tries to imitate Him. God's tool is faith - Satan's tool is fear. Soon you will notice that the two cannot co-exist. Fear is the opposite of faith. You can't feel them both at the same time. With fear comes panic and confusion; with faith comes peace. And you know that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). Live your life and make your decisions out of a sound mind, not one of fear, panic and confusion.
We all face our share of "ites". Husband-ites. Wife-ites. Wayward children-ites. Lack, sickness, work and annoying people-ites. Like David we can encourage ourselves in the Lord. He was a man just like us.
The dictionary defines to encourage as "to inspire with courage or hope; to spur on".
Spur yourself on with remembrance of happier times and God's constant faithfulness. Be courageous, knowing that the Almighty God of the Universe is your loving Heavenly Father and that while He died as the Lamb of God, He rose as the Lion of the tribe of Judah -- totally able to conquer in your every battle. Hope in the fact that at any moment He will appear in the eastern sky with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16). He will take you with Him to a place that is "ite"-free, tear free and where your heart will never break again. "Stand up, lift up your head, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28).
With all that to look forward to, we can say with the Psalmist, "Why are you so upset? Put your hope in God!! I WILL praise Him!! He will come through for me one way or another. He is my Savior and my God!"
Until next week,