This is a sentence that has intrigued me often, and I have been mulling over it from time to time for several weeks. That might have something to do with the fact that we’ve moved away from our two oldest sons, and though we keep in touch, it is not the same as hearing what goes on in their everyday lives and helping them put life into perspective or quietly praying when the time isn’t right for motherly advice. I want them to continue developing this habit and skill of encouraging themselves in the Lord.
As Christians we are supposed to encourage each other, but sometimes there is no one at hand to talk to, or sometimes another person doesn’t really understand, or even if they do understand and do try to help, it’s ineffectual if we do not take their wisdom and encouragement in for ourselves.
The passage that this verse comes from is I Samuel 30. David had been anointed king earlier, but he was not the acting king yet: in fact, he was in hiding from King Saul, who wanted to kill him. While David and his men had been away from their camp, Amalekites had swept in, burned everything, and taken the women and children captive. David’s men spoke of stoning him out of their distress over their families. And at that point, “David encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (verse 6b).
How did David encourage himself? Verse 7 says he asked the priest for the ephod and inquired of the Lord what to do.
We don’t have ephods these days — though sometimes that seems like it would be nice when we need a direct answer as to what to do next! But we have the whole word of God and the continually indwelling Holy Spirit if we’re Christians. One of the many reasons it is so important to read and hear the Word of God regularly is that, as we take it in, we get to know our God and His character better, and the Holy Spirit can then bring back to our minds the truths we’ve learned (John 14:26).
David wrote in Psalm 63 in an earlier situation (I Samuel 23:14, according to the reference notes in my Bible), “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice” (verses 5-7). All through his life you find him inquiring of the Lord or going back to what he knew of God’s character and His word. Near the end of his life he passed this same encouragement on to his son, Solomon: in I Chronicles 28:9 he told him, “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever,” and verse 20, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.”
May we all encourage ourselves in the Lord throughout our lives.