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
“Discouragement is of the devil,” my mother used to say emphatically when I would get in one of my teenage mood swings. I was not sure I believed her then. I rather enjoyed a little pity party occasionally! However, the longer I live, the more certain I become that she was right.
Discouragement — that feeling of gloom, oppression, like nothing will ever work out right again — spiritually disables us as long as we allow it to remain.
Madame Guyon lived a wonderful Christian life in the early 1700s. She was persecuted and imprisoned for her faith. This is what she had to say about discouragement:
“I entreat you, give no place to despondency. This is a dangerous temptation — a refined, not a gross temptation of the adversary. Melancholy contracts and withers the heart, and renders it unfit to receive the impressions of grace. It magnifies and gives a false coloring to objects, and thus renders your burdens too heavy to bear. God’s designs regarding you, and the methods of bringing about those designs, are infinitely wise.” (1)
You might respond, “But my problems are real, not just a teenage girl’s mood swings.” David’s problems were real too! His family and the families of all his men had been kidnapped, and now his men were talking, not of banding together to rescue the captives, but of stoning David! “And David was greatly distressed.” Sometimes things happen that will be distressing. When they do, we must follow David’s example.
First, “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” The Bible does not say exactly how he did this. Maybe he pulled out his harp and sang one of his psalms. One great way to encourage ourselves is to sing a song of praise. Perhaps David rehearsed how the Lord had delivered the giant, Goliath, into his hand when all of the army of Israel thought the situation was impossible. Remembering how the Lord helped us through a hard time, or helped someone else when they faced a problem similar to ours, is another great way to encourage ourselves in the Lord.
After David had encouraged himself, he asked the Lord what he should do about his problem. The Lord invites us to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
God told David what to do, and the end of the story is that not only did David and his men rescue their families; they also got much spoil from the enemy and were better off than they were before.
God wants all of us to be more than conquerors. If only we will ask, He will lead us through every difficulty we face, and we will find ourselves spiritually richer at the conclusion of the trial than we were at its beginning.
David’s battle with the Amalekites was a direct result of Saul’s disobedience. God commanded Saul to destroy all of the Amalekites, but Saul chose not to complete his mission. As a result, the people of Ziklag suffered and David was forced into another battle. David and his men destroyed the Amalekites.
While David was fighting the Amalekites, Saul and his army were fighting the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. After being mortally wounded, Saul requested that his armor bearer take his life. The Philistines had a well-earned reputation for torturing their captives. One of the first priorities of combat was to capture the king. Once captured, the king was often tortured and mutilated if still alive. Saul knew he was going to die, and when his armor bearer refused to kill him, he fell upon his sword.
The men of Jabesh-gilead heard about Saul and his sons being slain, and risked their lives, traveling 10 to 20 miles to rescue the bodies and carry them back across the Jordan River. The flesh was then burned off the bodies, in accordance with the tradition of the day, when it was not possible to give a proper burial to the bodies in their current state.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The reign of Saul
B. The decline of King Saul and the rise of David
2. David in exile from Saul
n. His flight to Philistia
(4) The Philistine advance on Israel
(b) The departure of David from the Philistine ranks (29:1 — 30:31)
 The reaction of the Philistine lords (29:1-5)
 The dismissal of David (29:6-11)
 The Amalekites raid Ziklag (30:1-6)
 The pursuit of David after the Amalekites (30:7-31)
[a] The inquiry of the Lord (30:7-10)
[b] The finding of an Egyptian slave (30:11-15)
[c] The slaughter of the Amalekites (30:16-20)
[d] The dividing of the spoils (30:21-31)
(c) The dividing of the spoils (31:1-13)
 The death of Saul (31:1-6)
 The dishonoring of Saul (31:7-10)
 The recovery of Saul’s body (31:11-13)
Are you tempted to feel discouraged by life’s dilemmas? Encourage yourself in the Lord, and trust God to guide and help you overcome!
1. Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, “Why Dost Thou Worry Thyself?” Streams in the Desert.