#42 Encouragement

8 June 1999

"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 Here we find one of the greatest battles of David's life; a battle that every Christian will face: a battle against discouragement. David's plight is not so different from our own, for we, as David, face many discouraging circumstances in our lives, circumstances in which there is no earthly help. God has so preserved David's experience to teach us a lesson we should never forget. Our greatest source of encouragement comes not from this world, "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God." It might seem strange for a man such as David to become discouraged. After all, David had gained many signal victories in hi life. David, as a young lad, stood before the Philistine giant, Goliath, and won a great victory. He had heard the encouraging chorus of his people: "Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." David had become well known for his courage in battle. But this battle was different. When David engaged Goliath, he did so with his eyes open; it was a battle of his own choosing. But here was a battle that David did not choose nor anticipate: a surprise attack. These are the most difficult battles the Christian will face, those battles which are least expected, those that lurk around the next corner. Indeed, life's challenges are amazing. It seems at times we can face great giants with slingshots and stones. But along comes a battle of a different flavor, a battle unexpected, and all of our props are knocked out from under us and we become discouraged, even to the point of surrender. None are exempt from this plague, not even David. Consider David's plight. Saul, driven by jealousy had pursued David to strange cities, even out of the camp of Israel. David and his companions had made their abode in Ziklag, a city of the Philistines, his nation's natural enemy. David had not only moved to Ziklag, but he had also sworn allegiance to the Philistine leader, Achish, and marched off with him to battle against his own people....without enquiring of his God. It seems that David's life was changing for the worse. He was growing cold towards his God and bitter towards his people. But God was still watching over him. According to scripture, God moved the princes of the Philistines against him. He was not allowed to fight with them. Now, ejected by Israel's king and rejected by the Philistine king, there seemed to be no place for David. To make matters worse, when they returned to Ziklag, their homes were burned and their families were taken captive. All the people spake of stoning David. At this point in his life, he had not earthly friend. He was alone, forsaken, discouraged and "greatly distressed." But rather than focusing his attention to the calamity, David focused his attention to a higher source, "the Lord his God." In the midst of this chaos in David's life, something amazing and wonderful was unfolding that David could not see at that moment. Through these series of events, God is molding the heart of a great king. God is preparing David for greater battles. What seems to be a battle that will defeat and destroy David is, in reality, a turning point in his life. God has neither forgotten nor forsaken David, nor will He forsake the least of His beloved. It is through this great time of discouragement that David's life will change for the better. It will bring David back to the source of his courage and prepare him for his future which only God could see at this moment: Israel's greatest king. Oh, that we might view life's battles in this way! It is here that many a battle is lost. Lost, in not remembering that God is our "refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Just to know that God is present, even though we may not see Him, will give us strength to go on. Just as we know that the sun is shining up above the cloudy sky, and that one day it will reveal its joyful rays, we must remember that the Lord is ever present. "Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,The clouds you so much dread Are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face." Lord, thou art our greatest source of encouragement! Come to worship with us at HARMONY PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday morning. Phone 501-337-1115. by His Grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.