Summary: In moments of distress you can encourage yourself in the Lord.
Encourage Yourself In The Lord
6 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.
7 And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David.
8 And David inquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.
"...But David encouraged himself in the Lord" (1 Samuel 30:6)
We begin our message with these familiar words: 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." With those praises ringing in his ears, David and his men returned 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.
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, but not understanding why the path led through such hard times.
Samuel had already anointed David king over Israel. He was declared to be a man after God’s own heart, chosen and set apart to lead God’s people. After a short time of acceptance in Saul’s court and a glorious ministry of victory upon victory, he was forced to escape for his life. The giant killer ended up hiding in a cave, wondering what he had done to endure such rejection and difficulty. Tearfully he had inquired of Jonathan, "What have I done? What is mine iniquity? And what is my sin... that my life is threatened?" (1 Samuel 20:1)
The high priest called David "the most faithful servant in all the kingdom." Even Saul recognized his goodness and anointing, saying to him:
"Thou art more righteous than I... I know well that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand..." (1 Samuel 24:17,20)
When Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed David "the Spirit of the Lord came upon him from that day forward" (1 Samuel 16:13). You have to begin here to understand David’s terrible distress at Ziklag that day.
He knew he was called, specially chosen, destined to the throne. He had a daily visitation of God’s Holy Spirit. He had a cause, he had zeal for the Lord, he was holy and burdened for the poor and needy. He lived a circumspect life that caused even his enemies to respect him.
Think of what must have gone through David’s mind as he stood over the burning ruins of his home, not knowing whether his family was dead or alive. He must have asked the question. Why? when thinking over the past few years, up to this very moment. "Why, if God is with me, did Saul try to kill me? Why was he so insanely jealous over me? Why, if I have been anointed, did I have to escape to Gath and pretend madness, acting like an insane fool? Why, if God’s Spirit is upon me, guiding me, did I have to hide out in caves? Why, if I’m a man after God’s heart, did I have to live in the wilderness, hunted down like a wild animal? Is this the reward of the anointed -- sleepless nights fearing for my life, harassed on all sides, living on handouts, and outcast?"
Now, after finally finding a home and enjoying a few months of peace, it all crumbles in unbelievable disaster. Ziklag is in ruins, all is lost. To make matters even worse, David’s closest associates were blaming him for the tragedy.
What a shoddy way for God to treat His anointed servant -- at least that is the way it appears on the surface. He is no longer the giant killer whose praises are being sung by admiring crowds. He is no longer the mighty man of faith and vision, looked upon with respect and love. Now he is in total rejection, on the verge of being stoned as a failure. David stands alone, stripped and confused -- in total despair.