You Can Encourage Yourself in the Lord

Sometimes we are in great need of encouragement. Chances are, though, that everyone around you is also suffering from discouragement and depression. If it seems that there is simply no one you can turn to for that needed encouragement, you can do like David of old and encourage yourself in the Lord.

In 1 Samuel chapter 30, we have an interesting story about David and his band of men who went about the country before he had become king of Israel. The men and their families had been living in the town of Ziklag. Upon arriving at home between conquests, they discovered that the Amalekites had burned their town while they were gone, and had taken all their wives and children captive.

Imagine their sorrow! David's men were so angry that they wanted to stone him! The Bible says that they all wept loudly until they could weep no more. Things looked hopeless.

David Inquired of God.

But then David did one of the wisest things anyone can do when faced with seemingly hopeless circumstances. He "encouraged himself in the Lord" (verse 6.) Let's look at the ways David found new strength and encouragement in this terrible situation by seeking God.

First, David took his problems to God. We can break this down further into several steps. He went to the priest and asked him to bring him the ephod, a religious artifact used by the spiritual leaders during that dispensation to discern the will of God. In our day and age, we have the Spirit of God dwelling in our hearts if we are believers.

David Listened to God's Directions.

Jesus said "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27) That means that somewhere deep in our hearts, we can hear His voice. We can discern the will of God for us in the same way the Israelites did when they inquired of the ephod. We do it through prayer, Bible study, and meditation.

I personally struggle with being decisive. Several years ago when dealing with many decisions regarding my husband's psychiatric needs, the Lord showed me a little acronym that has been useful for me ever since. The letters are ACT. Like David did, my first step is to "Ask" the Lord for wisdom and direction. Whenever I tell anyone about the ACT acronym, I like to remind everyone of another "A" word that fits well here, which is found in Prov. 3:6: "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

So like David, when we "ask" the Lord for help, we are also "acknowledging" that He is really the only source for the help we need. I believe that bringing the impossible situation to God first brings Him glory and honor. I believe He wants us to bring Him all our needs, hopes, desires, frustrations, and even wants.

David Obeyed God's Directions.

David encouraged himself in the Lord by asking God for a plan. We can do the same. The next step was to find the faith within to carry out the plan. I call this the "C" of ACT, or that we need to "Commit" the outcome to the Lord. Then David followed through to "T," "Take action!"

In David's case, the action was to pursue the troop of Amalekites and let God give him the victory over them, restoring all of their family members, animals, and belongings that had been stolen. This David did, but a funny thing happened on the way to the battle....

A third of the 600 men he had with him pooped out and could go no further. David didn't give them a hard time about it but left them with "the stuff" as the KJV puts it. You can imagine how wiped out they were from weeping and mourning. David and the rest of his men went on, found the Amalekite band, defeated them, and brought back their wives, children, and belongings.

David Treated Others with Generosity.

An interesting thing happened next, which I believe can give us insight into encouraging ourselves in the Lord. When they got back to the 200 men staying with the stuff, some of David's men didn't want to give them back the belongings that were rightfully theirs because they hadn't come out and fought. David, on the other hand, declared that these men would receive their belongings because God was really the one who restored what had been stolen. Not only this, he sent gifts to his friends among the leaders of Judah. David celebrated God's goodness with generosity.

Making an effort to be generous will help us encourage ourselves in the Lord. Romans 12 is a wonderful chapter full of good Christian advice. It ends with the words "...overcome evil with good." This is what happens when we are generous toward others in spite of our own pain and struggles.


Any time we are going through a difficult season of life, or have big decisions to make and feel overwhelmed, we can do as David did and encourage ourselves in the Lord. We can acknowledge that God is the only true Source for what we need by bringing our problems first to Him. We can get quiet before Him to listen for His direction in our heart. We can take the needed action. (Note: David did not run ahead of God in taking action. He sought direction and then was obedient to this direction. Seeking God for a "battle plan" must come first.) And finally, David was thoughtful to those around him, regardless of whether they "deserved" anything from him or not.


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