1 Samuel 30:1-6
David and his men had returned home to Ziklag, anxious to be reunited with their wives and children. They found their city burned to the ground, their homes destroyed, and their children and wives gone. The Amalekites had invaded while they were in Aphek and had taken captive all that was precious to David and his men. ….. And David was greatly distressed“. (1 Samuel 30:6) He had just returned from Gath, where King Achish had said to him, “Thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God.” (1 Samuel 29:9a.) With those praises ringing in his ears,
What a horrible day in the life of this anointed man of God. “Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep…”(1 Samuel 30:4)
The people rose up in anger, and there was talk of stoning David, because of their overwhelming grief. David himself was torn with grief, with not a tear left to shed. “And David was greatly distressed.” They had come to the end of their rope, all hope gone and swallowed up in grief and despair.
Did all this calamity fall upon David because he was living in sin? Was he running from God? Far from it. If anything, David was running with God. He was said to be a man after God’s own heart, chosen and set apart to lead God’s people.
All of us face challenges in our lives. But we can have victory over them if we keep our eyes on God. As David sat among the ruins of Ziklag and these men spoke of stoning him, he had a choice. David could allow grief and bitterness to conquer him. But before David could fight, he would have to get his strength and courage back. As David looked around him, he saw nothing but discouraged and downcast men. David had no one to encourage him, so he had only one recourse: He “encouraged himself in the Lord his God” He probably took his harp, retreated to a solitary place, and began to sing songs of praise to God. I will not be surprised if David didn’t feel like singing, but he did, anyway.
And he didn’t sing a sad lament bemoaning his situation. Instead, he sang of the majesty and power of God. He sang of the Creator who had spoken the worlds into existence. He sang of the deliverer who had already given him victories; victory over the lion, victory over the bear, and victory over the giant, Goliath.
Through praise and worship, David changed his focus. On the wings of a song his spirit was lifted above his present circumstances into the presence of the One who is high and lifted up. There was nothing about the circumstance that was encouraging, and if David had limited his focus to the present circumstance, he would surely have gone into some sort of deep depression. But David encouraged himself in God.
In times of uncertainty and upheaval, God was David’s constant source of joy. Why? Because God doesn’t change. No matter what the circumstance, God is above it, seated upon the throne of sovereignty.
How did David praise God? Maybe he sang Psalm 34. I can imagine David sitting in the ashes of what was once his home with harp in hand singing these words: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Ps. 34:1-4 NKJV). In the dark night of the soul, God will give you a song that will bring a dawn of faith and encouragement. So, in the dark night of his personal anguish, David sang a song of praise to the God who can make a way where there is no way.
Paul and Silas did the same. They had been arrested for casting a spirit of divination out of a young slave girl. They were beaten with rods and imprisoned in the innermost dungeon with their feet in chains.
How did they respond? In a most remarkable way. At midnight, instead of despairing and crying themselves to sleep, they sang hymns of praise to God. Paul and Silas made the exceptional choice to encourage themselves by praising God. The Bible tells us “the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were loosed” (Acts 16:26).
Encouraging yourself in the Lord is part of how you go about recovering your joy.
Written by: Lydia