How do we find the strength to move forward when life is hard or unfair, or when we make mistakes that cost us or those who follow us? I am studying David right now and see so many lessons in these scriptures. I am grateful for the honest stories of David’s life and the many psalms he authored; both types of scriptures provide great insights when we find ourselves in such situations, especially as we lead others. Where can we find needed encouragement and strength as David did?
Strengthened by other strong believers
God gives us community with others so that they can strengthen us when we need it.
When Saul turned on David and attempted to kill him, David first ran to Samuel and lived with him for a time (1 Sam. 19:18). Since it was Samuel who anointed David as king, he must have been a comfort to David who may have questioned God’s promises because the circumstances indicated otherwise.
As time passed, David received similar encouragement when Jonathan, Saul’s son and David’s loyal friend, sought David in the wilderness where he was hiding from the king. 1 Samuel 23:16-18 relates the story: “And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, ‘Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.’”
In the first instance, David went to the old prophet for assurance and encouragement, knowing that he was wise and walked with God. The second time God himself sent David’s best friend because David was unable to go to him.
Strengthened himself in the Lord
Not only did others strengthen David, but there were times when he had to strengthen himself in the Lord.
When the Amalekites captured the families of David and his men while they were away from home, David faced his angry followers. “And David was greatly distressed, the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God (1 Sam. 30:6)
How did David strengthen himself in the Lord? What does that look like?
David’s psalms give us much insight into the ways that he accomplished this. They include psalms of confidence where David reminds himself of the greatness, power, and character of God to build his faith. When we are low, they will provide encouragement for our own faith. Other psalms reveal the struggle to believe that God listens and cares—laments. Reading them gives us words for our own struggles and feelings when we don’t know how to pray.
These verses from Psalms 37 and 55 help me find strength in the LORD:
Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness,
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desire of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him (Ps. 37:3-7a).
The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him (Ps. 37:39-40).
But I call to God,
and the LORD will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice (Ps. 55:16-17).
Cast your burden upon the LORD,
and he will sustain you;
He will never permit
the righteous to be moved (Ps. 55:22).
When tempted to quit or despair, find strength in God by seeking others of strong faith and strengthening yourself in the LORD, crying out to him.