In 1 Samuel 30, David and his crew came back to his home base at Ziklag, only to find that the Amalekites burned the city with fire, stole their goods, and took all their families captive. David’s men were inconsolable, and David was greatly concerned when his men talked about stoning him. But he worked to encourage himself in the Lord his God.
There will be times that you will need to do the same thing as David: you will need to encourage yourself in the Lord. But what exactly does that mean? And how do you do it?
Different translations say it in different ways.
ESV: “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”
NIV: “David found strength in the Lord his God.”
MSG: “David strengthened himself with trust in his God.”
But regardless of what the phrase means, these translations don’t help you understand how to do it. Using Psalm 13 as a model, here is a three-step process you can use to encourage yourself in the Lord.
Focusing on the problem (vs. 1-2)
In these verses, David focuses on the problem. He cries out to God pointing out what’s wrong.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
While it may sound like David is complaining, David is actually doing something productive. He is taking his problems to God. Only God is able to fix the problem. Because the problem is not what it may seem to be.
Changing focus (vs. 3-4)
In these verses, David moves from talking about his problem to asking God to solve the problem.
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
David realizes that the battle is the Lord’s, not his (1 Samuel 17:47). God will solve the problem, but not necessarily by changing his circumstances.
Focusing on the Lord (vs. 5-6)
In these verses, David recognizes that focusing on God will solve his problem—because not focusing on God was his problem all along.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
When you go to God about any problem, you will be much more likely to have that problem solved—at least from your perspective—because making the effort to encourage yourself in the Lord will solve the problem of taking your eyes off of God. Regardless of what issue brings us to God, the fact that we need to go to God about it in the first place is because we took our eyes off of God to begin with.
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