And David was greatly distressed, for 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 Samuel 30:6 ESV)
When everything was against him, David strengthened himself in the LORD and was able to go on despite the odds stacked against him. Such a tantalizing phrase… “strengthened himself in the LORD.”
How did he go about this? How does a man not only pick himself up from a crushing blow, but then lead the very men who are talking of killing him off on a rescue mission against forces much stronger than they? David clearly gained the strength he needed, I want to know how he met with God and was strengthened by Him.
A similar phrase occurs in 1 Samuel 23:16-17. Oh to have friends who will do this for us — leading us to God above all else:
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. (1 Samuel 23:16-17 ESV)
No empty encouragements to ‘be strong’ or offering painkillers to numb the hurt, Jonathan strengthens David in God. A bit of worldly strength is helpful when things are slightly hard or we are a little weak, but when we are on the verge of being crushed or know ourselves to be completely weak and defenceless then only God’s strength will suffice. Jonathan reminds David of God’s past promises to him (though unfortunately he was wrong about being next to David when he became king). It would seem that at least part of strengthening ourselves in God involves reflecting and remembering God’s past promises and gifts to us.
I think an even more fruitful place to look for insight into how David strengthened himself in God is to meditate upon the psalms he wrote. These reflect David’s heart process as he prayed, lamented and worshiped God. Particularly Psalms 55 through to 63 show David pour out his heart in complaint to God and then, while being realistic about his circumstances, he finds hope in God. If I want to strengthen myself in God, these psalms are good examples to learn from.