By Maria Kneas
(author of Strength for Tough Times)
David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. (1 Samuel 30:6)
After fighting the Amalakites, David and his men returned to Ziklag to find that their wives and children had been taken captive by their enemies, and their homes burned. As a result of this tragedy, David’s men turned against him.
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. (1 Samuel 30:6)
Immediately after this, there was a radical change in David’s men. Instead of stoning him, they followed him and overtook their enemies. They rescued their families and returned with animals and other plunder.
How could David, who was cornered, and about to be stoned to death, turn around and inspire these angry, grieving, tired men to successfully undertake this?
What brought about such a transformation in David and his men?
We can find some keys in the psalms, which record David’s prayer and worship. They show us how David encouraged himself in the Lord, and how we can do the same.
In Psalm 42, David talked to his soul (his mind, his will, and his emotions):
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. (Psalm 42:5)
The term “cast down” is significant. David was a shepherd. A “cast” sheep is one that is unable to get back up on its legs. If the shepherd doesn’t find the sheep and help it get back on its feet, the sheep will die.
David says that his soul is like a cast sheep. He talks to his soul, telling it to get back up on its feet again, to hope in God, and to praise Him.
In Psalm 103, David tells his soul to bless the Lord. Then he reminds himself about God’s mercy and love and faithfulness:
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
At the end of the psalm, he exhorts all of God’s creatures to bless Him:
Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul. (Psalm 103:20-22)
In Psalm 104, David tells his soul to bless the Lord:
Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. (Psalm 104:1)
After that, he praises God for His might and His greatness. In the process, David reminds himself of reasons for blessing the Lord. Look at some of these reasons, and see why David was so compelled to praise the Lord:
Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain. (verse 2)
Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire. (verse 4)
Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. (verse 5)
He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. (verse 10)
He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. (verse 13)
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man. (verse 14)
The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies. (verse 18)
He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. (verse 19)
The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. (verse 21)
Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. (verse 30)
In Psalm 116, David tells why he loves the Lord, and he exhorts his soul to be at rest. Then he addresses God, giving some reasons for his gratitude:
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. (Psalm 116:7-8)
Psalm 146 is another example of David exhorting his soul to praise God:
Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. (Psalm 146:1-2)
(from Strength for Tough Times by Maria Kneas – encouragement for weary saints)