Encourage Thyself in the Lord
1 Samuel 30:1-6 (1) And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; (2) And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. (3) So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. (4) Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. (5) And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. (6) And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. David's grief from Saul was not yet over nor was it always direct. Had Saul earlier utterly destroyed the Amalekites as commanded (1SAM 15:1-3), David would not have had to run a campaign against them (1SAM 27:8) nor would his band have here been ravaged by them. So it is with inappropriate pity: sparing when God says Spare not can cause widespread grief and "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (ECC 8:11). Mind that this attack occurred while David was in hiding amongst the Philistines. As noted in an earlier meditation, there is no record of an update of God's word to David to abide in Judah (1SAM 22:5) so his flight to the Philistines was not exactly a step of faith, per ROM 10:17. When a man is walking in faith and attending to the things of God as he ought to do, he may expect God to protect his home and goods, as seen in God's promise to Israel relative to their attendance to His appointed sacrifices (EXO 34:24). The man who walks by sense has another promise to him, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (PRO 14:12). Now even if David's decision to go to the Philistines was the opening of the door of this trouble from the Amalekites, the Amalekites were not justified in their actions as is evidenced by God's directive to David to pursue them (1SAM 30:7-8). In charity to David, it must be said that even when a man of God is striving with integrity of heart to do what is right before God, troubles may come. The life of the Apostle Paul is an abundant witness of this. David was here "...greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him..." (v.6). Now David was not the immediate cause of their grief but he was a convenient scapegoat and God's ministers will get burned like this from time to time, "...who is offended, and I burn not?" (2CO 11:29), Paul noted. Masters will indeed receive the greater condemnation (JAM 3:1) and it is not uncommon for it to come even from those to whom they minister in love. It therefore behooves ministers to be aware of this tendency of human nature and so endure hardness (2TI 2:3), lest they become hardness. But in this distress David set an example for all believers: he "...encouraged himself in the LORD his God" (v.6). Mind that David did not "encourage" himself with wine, nor by lashing out at his flock, nor by remembrances of his own goodness, nor of his achievements. But he could recall the many times that God had delivered him already, shown mercy on him already, and so pray, "Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up" (PSA 27:7-10). So against the pressure of the moment he could say, "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD" (PSA 27:13-14). And they that wait so on the LORD shall indeed have their strength renewed so as to soar again (ISA 40:31). Paul spiritually fought the Lord's battles in a good and faithful manner but found himself all alone with friends departed at the end: "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me..." (2TI 4:16). But God was still with him: "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me....and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion" (2TI 4:17) which encouraged him to conclude, "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom..." (2TI 4:18). The Son of David did as David also. When abandoned even by His disciples and facing the horrors of hell in His crucifixion, He had God's word for encouragement: "...thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (ACT 2:27) and so could in the moment of anguish say to a thief, "...Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (LUK 23:43). Therefore, believer, "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD" (PSA 31:24).