“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)
While fleeing the wrath of Saul, David had made a home for himself in Ziklag, a city of the Philistines. It will be remembered that David had, only a few years earlier, led the Israelites to victory against the Philistines when he slew their champion, Goliath. Now things were reversed and David felt compelled to accompany the Philistines into battle against the Israelites.
1 Samuel 29 shows the Sovereign Hand of God working in the midst of these circumstances to prevent the king from fighting his own people. This was done through the paranoia and mistrust of the Philistine princes (1 Samuel 29:4). Indeed, the Lord had been leading David by providential means. So much so that David could confidently say, “The LORD is my shepherd…” (Psalms 23:1).
But the story takes a dark turn. While God’s providence prevented David and his men from battling their own people, it also permitted an Amalekite invasion on the city of Ziklag while its defenders were away. David and his men returned to find their homes burnt with fire and their families carried away as captives. “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).
Quite naturally, the men were upset at the apparent loss of their wives and children. They quickly turned on their beloved leader and actually discussed stoning him. “But David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” There was hope in David’s heart because he could see a greater plan at work. Yes, he was in error to have thought to fight against the people of God. The invasion of Ziklag was clearly a chastening for this error. But not one of their loved ones had perished; and so David could encourage himself in the Lord.
The story continues with David leading his men to retrieve their loved ones from the Amalekites. Not one of their family members was lost; but they were all returned safely, just as they had been taken. Again, we can see the providential hand of the Sovereign God at work. There can be no doubt that this was the expectation of David as he encouraged himself. And how was David able to so receive encouragement? Because he knew the Lord by experience; to him, the Word of God was more than abstract concepts, but was deep and personal.
At a recent prayer meeting, I posed the question: What is your favorite memory verse, and why? The answers were varied and diverse, ranging from John 3:16 to Psalms 23; to Philippians 4:13; to Romans 8:28; to Mark 9:23. Each verse has its own message to each one of us, and they all mean something to all of us. We can all share in the richness and encouragement of God’s Word on a personal level.
The fact that we each have our favorite verse that we look to for encouragement shows that we have a personal interest in the Word of God. The messages of each of these verses show that God has a Personal interest in us. His love; His strength; His leading; His provision; His plan; His salvation, all point to the fact that He has personal thoughts of goodness toward us (Jeremiah 29:11). Indeed, He has graven us upon the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16).
David could encourage himself in the Lord his God, because he had hid God’s Word in his heart (Psalm 119:11). He knew of God’s promises and that He is faithful to His promises. This is where our hope lies; and this is where we should look for courage. When we are faced with all manner of trials, we can encourage ourselves in the Lord our God by resting on the promises He has given us. We can have a personal interest in God’s Word because He has a Personal Interest in us.