Encourage Yourself -
The last words of I Samuel 30:6 are, ...but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.
All of us face difficult and trying times, and sometimes we are forced to face them alone. Instead of becoming frustrated and discouraged by these arduous circumstances, we must look for words of encouragement, not in the mouths of other people, but in ourselves and in our God.
In I Samuel 30:1, David found himself in just such a time, because the Bible says that, ...the Amalekites had invaded the south.... and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; And had taken the women captives.... (and) carried them away...
David and his army had made their home in Ziklag, which the Crudens Concordance defines as good measure and pressed down. Ziklag was the place of Gods blessing for David and his men, and now the enemy has destroyed it by fire and taken captive their wives and their children (verse three).
The Amalekites were a warring and evil people. Their father Amalek (whos name means the people that licks up and takes away all) had been fighting the nation of Israel as far back as Exodus 17:8, where the Bible says, Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And now they have come to destroy Davids life.
I Samuel 30:5 says that Davids two wives were taken captive, Ahinoam (whos name means beauty and grace) and Abigail (meaning the source of joy). The two people that brought beauty, grace, and joy to Davids life were taken from him, and it broke Davids heart.
Walking through the burnt ruins of Ziklag, I Samuel 30:4 says, Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. The Jerusalem translation says that they, ...wept aloud till they were too weak to weep anymore.
When people turn against you -
Consumed by sadness, grief, and despair, Davids men eventually turned their anger towards him. Seeking redress from their troubles, I Samuel 30:6 says, And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved...
The margin of my Bible says that they were bitter over their loss. Berkeleys translation says, ...the people were in an ugly mood. Goodspeed says, ...David was in a serious predicament.
The men that followed David were all courageous and strong in battle, but some lacked the moral fiber and virtue that stimulates men to always do the right thing. Verse twenty-two says, Some were sons of Belial... Adam Clarkes Commentary says that these were people who were sour about life, rugged, severe, and profane.
Goodspeed says they were, ...base and worthless rascals. Moffatt says, ...they were scoundrels and low creatures. The Knox translation says, ...they were curlish, graceless fellows among his own.
You cant choose the quality of character that controls the people around you. You cant choose the family that you are born in, or exercise complete control over the events of your life. But you can choose how you react to the events and the people that come against you.
Faced with dire circumstances, with no one to turn to for help, the rest of verse six says, ...but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.
Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him. How you react in times of trouble reveals what has always been in your heart.
Your success does not depend upon people, neither is it controlled by the negative words that are spoken against you. Your success is based upon the Lord and His will for your life.
Our attitude towards circumstances determines their influence over our lives. If we remain positive and encourage ourselves in the Lord, we can take what the devil meant for harm and turn it to our good.
Strengthen yourself -
The phrase David encouraged himself comes from the Hebrew verb #2388 chazaq which means to strengthen and harden yourself, to become courageous, firm and resolute.
It is used to describe the repairing of broken down walls, fortifying strongholds, and mending what has been ripped and torn. It used 290 times in the Old Testament to describe the person that becomes resolute and determined during hard times, to strengthen weak hands, and taking a firm hold on the task at hand.
The definition of encourage is to impart courage, inspiration, and resolution. While others were wallowing in their misery and seeking revenge, David encouraged and stimulated himself to rise up from the ashes of Ziklag. He became proactive with his faith and decided to seek God for the answer to his problems.
Daniel 11:32 says, ...they that know their God shall be strong (#2388 chazaq - be encouraged) and do exploits. Davids relationship with the Lord had prepared him to deal wisely in a crisis. While others were continuing to flail about, David was able to rise up and encourage himself because he knew that God would forever stand by his side.
The Amplified says, ...the people who know their God shall prove themselves strong, and shall stand firm and do exploits.
How we respond to difficult times determines the level of success that we have in life. Our ability to encourage and strengthen ourselves in difficult times is proportionate to the measure of intimacy we possess with the Lord. The closer you walk with God, the more positive your attitude will become.
In the phrase ...(they) shall do exploits, the word do comes from the Hebrew #6213 asah which means to take what you already have and to make it work for your good.
What did David have? His men had turned against him. His family was gone. Ziklag was burned. All David had was his faith in God.
When people turn against you, and life lets you down, you can still stand strong and be encouraged, because Hebrews 13:5 says that God, ...will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
So, David turned his attention to the only one that could truly help in his time of need. I Samuel 30:8 says, And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? Shall I overtake them? And He (the Lord) answered him, Pursue; for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.
You will recover all -
Encouraged by this positive word from the Lord, David left Ziklag with six hundred men in full pursuit of the Amalekites. But sometimes things get worse before they get better.
When they arrived at the brook Besor (which means good news), David received bad news from some of his men. I Samuel 30:10 says, ...for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor. Not everyone who starts the journey with you will be able to go the distance. Some will loose heart and change course, others will loose strength and lag behind.
A wise prophet of God once told me, if the devil cant make you stumble with the temptations to sin, the only way that he can get you down is through the people around you.
We must not allow other peoples weaknesses become our failures. If you focus your attention on what people are saying or doing, you will become discouraged and faint on the road to victory. But the man that continually encourages himself and keeps his confidence in the Lord will see his hopes realized.
Refusing to be discouraged, David and his shrinking army of 400 men pursued hard after the enemy.
In I Samuel 30:11 they came upon a servant of the Amalekites army who had fallen sick and was left behind to die. After nourishing him, David talked him into leading them to the enemies camp, and I Samuel 30:17,18 says, And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day.... And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away; and David rescued his two wives.
If David would have given up and retreated, he never would have recovered all that the devil stole from his life. If he would have succumbed to the thoughts of discouragement and failure that must have been running through his mind, he never would have come across the servant who would lead him to the Amalekites camp and victory.
How we react to difficult times determines our success in life.
Proverbs 24:10 says, If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
Proverbs 11:31 says, Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth... To recompense means to give a satisfactory return, to compensate, remunerate, to repay.
Proverbs 30:31 says that when a thief is caught, ...he shall restore sevenfold... Everything that the devil steals from you, he must repay.
If you learn to encourage yourself like David, and refuse to give up in your day of adversity, God will bring you through to victory and cause you to be recompensed for all the harm that people and circumstances have brought into your life.
God has a plan for you life, and there aint nothing the devil can do about it. Its got to go Gods way.
Davids psalm of encouragement -
David wrote many psalms of encouragement. Psalms 27:1 says, [A Psalm of David] The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.
When we put our trust in the Lord, instead of the people around us, we wont be consumed by fear or loose hope.
Verse fourteen says, Wait on the LORD; be of good courage (#2388 chazaq - encourage yourself), and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the LORD.
The Amplified says, Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let you heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.
Verse thirteen says, I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Tays translation says, I am expecting the Lord to rescue me again, so that once again I will see His goodness to me here in the land of the living.
Verse ten says, When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. The Knox translation says, ...father and mother may neglect me, but the Lord will take me into His care. The Jerusalem Bible says, If my father and mother desert me, Yahweh will care for me still.
Every person in your life will eventually let you down and fail you. But the Lord will never let you go. He is always by your side.
Joshuas courage -
In the first chapter of the book of Joshua, God spoke to Joshua the words that would prepare him to assume the role of leadership over the children of Israel and their conquest of the promised land. Several times the Lord told Joshua that he must learn to encourage himself, because the role of leadership can be a lonely and difficult enterprise.
In Joshua 1;5,6 God said, ...as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong (#2388 chazaq - encourage yourself) and of a good courage; for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land...
The children of Israel had a reputation of being a murmuring and complaining people. To overcome their negative attitude and successfully lead them in battle, in a strange land occupied by giants, Joshua had to train himself to constantly encourage himself in the Lord.
Once again, in Joshua 1:7, the Lord repeated his instructions to Joshua, Only be thou strong (#2388 chazaq - encourage yourself) and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law.... turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
A discouraged man has a difficult time hearing the voice of the Lord. Discouragement, which means to dishearten and depress ones spirit, breeds a lack of confidence and prevents even the strongest man from valiant deeds.
But a man that is constantly encouraging himself in the Lord will believe that all things are possible with the Gods help.
Repeating the same command, God said in Joshua 1:9, Have not I commanded thee? Be strong (#2388 chazaq - encourage yourself) and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
All things are possible to the man that encourages himself in the Lord.
Be of Good Cheer -
In John 16:33, Jesus said, These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
The phrase be of good cheer is the Greek #2293 tharseo which means to exercise courage (which is the attitude of facing and dealing with difficult and painful circumstances instead of withdrawing from them), to be bold (which means to take risks, face danger, to become daring and fearless) and to be confident (trusting in the Lords ability to see you through difficult times).
Jesus wasnt merely telling us to cheer up, put a smile on our face, and hope for the best. He was telling us to take an active and courageous position of faith instead of passively acquiescing to the problems that surround us. He was telling us to get on the offense by becoming pro-active with our faith instead of merely reacting to the problem.
Why? Because the believer will never escape the tribulation that is in the world. ...In the world ye shall have tribulation... The word tribulation is the Greek #2347 thlipsis which means pressure, affliction and trouble.
The Amplified Bible says, ... in the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration... Vines defines this pressure as anything which burdens the spirit or the soul; pressure of circumstances, antagonism of persons; and especially refers to that pressure which comes from without.
Tribulation can come at you through people, through circumstances and through evil spirits. It is a pressure that comes at you from the outside and tries to fill your heart and mind with burdensome and fretful thoughts.
If you let it consume you, tribulation will cause you to take your eyes off of Jesus and focus totally on the problem. But Jesus says, when tribulation comes .... Be of Good Cheer! Do something courageous. Do something bold.
Never let circumstances control you. Encourage yourself in the Lord and He will bring you through to victory.
(See notes: Adversity, Be of Good Cheer)