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Oh for the strength to face discouragement head on and duke it out to the finish. It’s just not possible to conquer discouragement in our own strength. We are no match for the waves of discouragement that roll in daily. Even if it was possible to fight it in our own emotional vigor, we would eventually be wiped out since in our own human strength we are no match.  Discouragement is relentless, unceasing, and always pressing in to our lives.  If you’re not a person prone to discouragement, blessed are you!

But if you’re like so many of us, a bright, happy, and cheerful day can get gloomy so quickly as the clouds of discouragement roll in over our heads.  The hymn writer said it best:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

The sea billows roll, that’s for sure! Even before my son Eddie died, combined with the painful ongoing trial of His absence, I was hit with discouragement now and then.  It wasn’t overwhelmingly huge, but definitely a regular occasional visitor.  But over the past almost 8 years, discouragement doesn’t seem to leave and if it does, it’s only for a brief moment and then it’s back again.

David has become a good friend to me. His psalms comfort my heart.  I don’t know if you ever felt this way, but for some of the psalms, as I’m reading them I’m thinking, “that’s exactly how I feel!”  As I’ve become friends with David, my friendship with Jesus has only grown. How can you not love Jesus, the friend that sticks closer than a brother? With discouragement comes the benefit of a deeper love relationship with Jesus.

In First Samuel 30, David is faced with great discouragement.

Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. 1 Sam 30:6 (NKJV)

He’s been living a backslidden life among the Philistines. That alone would be enough to make a person miserable but he finally comes to his senses and decides to return home. When he arrives in the city of Ziklag he finds out another enemy, the Amalekites have destroyed the city and stolen all of their possessions, including their families.  That too would be enough to discourage a person but on top of that, the men he has so valiantly formed an indelible bond with now want to kill him by stoning!  It’s a bad day in David’s life.

We have a lot to learn from David’s response. There are at least three things he did that helped him endure and overcome the fierce distress and encouragement.

1. David ENCOURAGED himself in the Lord. (30:6) This is always where the change starts. This is what we have to do to get back all that’s been ripped off by the enemy of our souls! I can sit there and wallow in my sadness which will probably lead me to wallowing in self-pity OR I can turn to the Lord! When I’m down, I need to encourage myself and remember the good things the Lord has shown me.

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them. Psalms 103:17-18 (NKJV)

2. David INQUIRED of the Lord. (30:7-8) This is such a wise decision on our part. God what do you want me to do? What’s next? How can I move forward? Why do we wait so long to inquire from the Lord? I don’t know. But when we finally do, we’ll often get His answer so quickly and so directly as David does here in Go get them back!

Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Psalms 50:14-15 (NKJV) 

LORD, in trouble they have visited You, They poured out a prayer when Your chastening was upon them. Isaiah 26:16 (NKJV)

God wants to answer you. He wants to speak into your pain, into your discouragement, into your situation. But the devil is always whispering, “you’re not good enough, you deserve it, it’s your fault, and so much more.” Encourage yourself in Him, and inquire!

‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3 (NKJV)

3. David OBEYED the Lord. (30:9-10)  After praising God, and praying to God, David now pursues the enemy to get his family back (v9-10). There is a time to wait and a time to act. When God gives the green light to act, our only choice is to respond in obedience. God blesses obedience! God doesn’t at any time bless disobedience. The Lord says “take a step of faith, I’ll be with you. I’ll fight for you. But fighting isn’t passive.”

This is the pathway David chooses to get from v6 “greatly distressed” to v20 “David took. This is David’s spoil! Enemy of God you cannot have what is mine! Because David encouraged himself in the Lord, inquired of the Lord, Obeyed the command of the Lord, now David is used mightily by the Lord! He recovered everything the Amalekites had stolen away. Not some. Not Most. Not a lot. But All!! This is the Lord’s will for you and me. He wants us to recover all that has been ripped off by our sin, our flesh, and the enemy.

To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV)


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