In 1 Sam. 30, we read of events that occurred over 1,000 years before the Lord Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. Much truth and relevancy for our modern age can be drawn from this chapter. Paul said that the Old Testament Scriptures were written down for us in New Testament times, so we could be TAUGHT (Rom. 15:4) and WARNED (1 Cor. 10:11). This chapter begins with David and his 600 men arriving at Ziklag from Aphek, three days away, or approximately 70 miles. Instead of finding rest in their homes and joy with their families as they expected, they found their hometown burned, plundered and their wives and children taken captive! They were so HURT by this discovery that these warriors wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.
At this point in time all were already EXHAUSTED from their three day journey. Now they were HEARTBROKEN because everyone and everything they loved and valued was gone, and they were ANGRY over this turn of events. Their ANGER was in part directed toward David, whom they felt should have had some of the men stay behind to protect their city from such a fate as this. David's faithful followers spoke of stoning him for this! (Put yourself in Davidís place. Try to imagine the exhaustion, grief, regret and anxiety he must have experienced.)
David, in the face of all this, however, found strength in the LORD his God, v. 6! The KJV reads:David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.WHO encouraged David to continue on? David encouraged David! Itís great to be encouraged by others when we face adversity, but at times we will have to encourage ourselves in the LORD like David did. Please notice that he didnít just encourage himself, he encouraged himself in the LORD his God.
We all face battles in this life with great opportunities to DESPAIR as David did, but instead of self-pity or giving up, he did the brave thing -- he chose to continue for the sake of all who would be adversely affected if he quit! He thought of others not himself. Also, he knew his source of strength was Almighty God.
Bear in mind that David, at this point, had already been anointed to be the next king of Israel (1 Sam. 16:1-13). He had been fleeing from Saul, who wanted to kill him! His lifestyle had been anything but ideal for the last 6 or 7 years, hiding in the desert and caves from the jealous Saul. During this time, he spared Saulís life twice (chapters 24 and 26). After showing mercy repeatedly to the very one who wanted him dead, he now faced this great test of multiple disappointments as cited in this chapter. This was the LAST test for David before he took the office as king. (His last test was the most severe.) He was on the brink of blessings, even though he didnít know it!
Severe Testing on the Brink of Blessing
David was Godís chosen and ANOINTED to lead all of Israel, yet he faced great disappointments, heartaches and problems, over an extended time. Earlier in his life, his faith was great enough to slay that mighty Philistine, Goliath, but now deliverance was nowhere in sight! As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we too are all ANOINTED (1 Jn. 2:27), even though we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). The question is: Will we encourage ourselves in the Lord for our sakes and the sake of others we love the most, as David did? Itís our choice, as it was his!
After this, David inquired of the LORD regarding direction. He then took his 600 men and went after the Amalekites. He quickly lost 33% of them (or 200 men), because they were too exhausted to cross the Besor Ravine. (They couldn't face another valley of disappointment.) With 33% less after that Ravine was crossed, not to mention their added exhaustion from this, they continued on with David in the lead, for he sought the LORDíS strength and direction.
Victory in Store
In the course of all this disappointment and frustration as they searched for their enemies, they found an abandoned Egyptian, who had not eaten anything for three days and three nights. They could have very easily ignored this man's needs with their ardent desire to be reunited with their loved ones. However, they chose to show mercy on this man, while precious time was ticking by! It turned out that this man was Godís means of providing for David and the others the exact location of the Amalekites! (It's a good thing for them that they were merciful to that Egyptian. Little did they know the important role he would play in accomplishing their goal.)
David and his men fought the Amalekites from dusk until the evening of the next day or about 36 hours. (Victory was in store for David, but he had to fight hard and long to get it!) They recovered everything.Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back (1 Sam. 30:19).Try to imagine how happy Ahinoam and Abigal, David's two wives, were at this point! Imagine how happy the other wives and the children were to be reunited with their husbands and fathers. Imagine how happy they all were that David and the 400 endured -- that they didn't quit -- that they didn't leave them abandoned without hope of escape!
Finally, try to imagine how thankful and glad David and his men were when it was all over. They were now reunited once again with their families and had recovered their own goods. The battles were over. Was it worth ENDURING the many hardships that came their way? If they were here to answer, they would unanimously answer YES!
(Likewise, when we get to Heaven, we will know that it was worth ENDURING ANY and ALL adversity for the sake of precious souls, souls that belong to our loved ones and others. Then, weíll look back on our lives that we are NOW living, just as David and his 400 men did.) Thank God they endured! Thank God David encouraged himself in the Lord. David and his men fought a good fight that was most crucial, even BEFORE they entered the actual battle with the Amalekites.
We Must Endure for the Sake of Souls
(Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said that he himself "fought the good fight," finished the race and kept the faith, 2 Tim. 4:7.) This life is filled with BATTLES against desires and unseen enemies that would tend to hinder our walk with Almighty God. Job said:Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble (14:1).Paul said regarding the Christian life:If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men (1 Cor. 15:19).This revelation, however, didn't stop or even slow down this mighty Apostle who wrote approximately 1/2 of the New Testament. It didn't stop him because he knew there was more in a better by far place (Phil. 1:23). Therefore, he chose to endure the hatred, insults, frustrations, beatings, etc. as he lived godly, for his single goal was to please the Lord (2 Cor. 5:9) and WIN SOULS (1 Cor. 10:33). He said:For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that FAR outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes NOT on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor. 4:17,18).In other words, don't let your earthly troubles overwhelm you. They are only temporary, not eternal! Remember, David wasn't overwhelmed by his troubles!
Let's get back to the 200 men that were too exhausted to continue, even for the sake of their loved ones and their own possessions (1 Sam. 30:9,10). After the battle was over and ALL was recovered, including the plunder, David and the 400 men that did continue on happily started back with their families and the wives and children, including those of the 200 men that stayed behind. (What do you think those wives and children thought when they learned that their husbands and fathers werenít numbered among the 400 who fought the battle that brought about their rescue?)
One Person With One Decision
Can Turn Things Around
When the tired, but happy warriors reunited with the 200, the 400 wrongly didn't want to return their possessions to them. David rebuked them upon the fact that it was God who protected them in battle and gave them the victory. Consequently, their possessions were returned to them also. (Can you imagine the SHAME they experienced for staying behind, instead of going into battle.) So, even the 200 were blessed by those who were persevering. Their lives also could now return to the norm, since their families were reunited. All this began with just one person, at a crucial time, deciding to encourage himself in the LORD, instead of giving up. Things turned for David and his men based upon that single decision!
Perhaps at this juncture, you're wondering HOW you can encourage yourself in the Lord and in so doing be a blessing to yourself and others as well. There are five main ways this can be accomplished.
Five Ways To Encourage Yourself In The Lord
First, we encourage ourselves through PRAYER. In Phil. 4:6-8, Paul cites this most powerful means of receiving peace, in spite of troubling circumstances. We are to pray about everything that produces anxiety. (Are YOU doing this?) If you are worried about the future, PRAY! Also, see Matt. 6:34.
Second, singing praises to God will bring encouragement. This is not only a safeguard (Phil. 3:1), but also the God-given means to silence the foe and the avenger (Psa. 8:2)! See also Psa. 149:6-9. In fact, just listening to Christian music will help greatly. Saul felt better, just because he listened to David playing his harp (1 Sam. 16:23).
A third way to encourage yourself is through Christian fellowship, if you can find it. Nothing can replace this important aspect of our race. In fact, in Acts 2:42, the early church placed it on a par with Bible study, prayer and communion! The people you choose to fellowship with in your free time will greatly help or hinder your walk with God. See Prov. 13:20; 1 Cor. 15:33; etc.
Fourth, Bible study with meditation upon God and his Word will also help. In Prov. 4:22, the Hebrew teaches that God's Word is medicine for our spirits. Furthermore, God's Word was directly given for encouragement (Rom. 15:4). We are promised perfect peace if our MINDS are steadfast in thinking about God (Isa. 26:3). (THOUGHTS DO create or disrupt our peace. Few realize the importance of their thought life.)
Fifth, try talking to yourself. The sons of Korah used this technique as shown in Psa. 42:5,6. See how they did it.
Now that you know WHAT to do and HOW to do it, the choice is yours, as it was for David! To be victorious, at times, you're going to have to encourage yourself in the Lord. Victory and blessings followed David's choice. On the other hand, try to imagine what would have happened if he didn't!
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