ISRAEL'S HISTORY: ANCIENT

Godly Encouragement

Godly Encouragement
By Charles E. McCracken
GROW January 22

 

Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints! For the LORD preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person. Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD. PSALMS 31:23-24

Penned at one of the lowest points of David’s life, the extenuating circumstances are barely discernible in the 31st Psalm. Given the essential facts of David’s predicament in other passages, however, we can’t help but wonder why he didn’t succumb to despair.

With Saul hot on his trail, word came to David that the Philistines were preparing to attack the city of Keilah. David and his men countered by driving off the Philistine army. Rather than showing gratitude, however, the local inhabitants betrayed David’s location to Saul.

Retreating to the Wilderness of Ziph, David’s cover was short-lived when the Ziphites sent an informant to King Saul.

At this crucial moment, God sent encouragement to David through two unlikely people.

First, we read that Jonathan, went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God (1 Sam. 23:16). Jonathan confidently prophesied,

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. Even my father Saul knows that (v. 17).

More than an inspirational moment, Jonathan’s words were a bold reminder of God’s anointing on David that undoubtedly encouraged him.

Forced to flee yet again, David traveled south into the Wilderness of Maon bordering the western edge of the Dead Sea.

With his band of followers growing to approximately 600 men, they protected the large flocks of a man named Nabal (27:2).

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Tapestry detail: The Meeting between David and Abigail, circa, 1620. By François Spierincx {{PD-US}}, via Wikimedia Commons ~ Enhancement courtesy: MKM Portfolios

Though David didn’t exact a price, it was customary for owners of flocks to liberally reward those protecting their sheep from marauding desert tribes at shearing time.

Nabal had some 3,000 sheep and more than 1,000 goats. He was a wealthy man. Expecting compensation for his services, David sent 10 men to greet Nabal and accept the reward. It would provide much needed subsistence for his small army.

Instead of offering the customary payment, Nabal barked, Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? (1 Sam. 25:10). It was a rhetorical question; Nabal knew full well the identity of David. His response was one of contemptuous scorn because he was aligned with Saul against David.

Nabal’s insolence, ingratitude and lack of integrity prompted David to take action. He and his men were prepared to take the needed supplies forcibly.

However, when Nabal’s wife, Abigail, heard what had transpired between David’s men and her husband, she quickly acted to avert disaster. After gathering enough provision for David’s men and commissioning her servants to transport the goods, she discreetly went to meet the future king in person.

Bowing low before David, she apologized for her husband’s insolence. Curiously, his name is the Hebrew equivalent for “fool.” Whether he was named by sadistic parents or an apt reflection of his character, Abigail conceded that the name suited him (25:25).

Pressing David to spare Nabal’s life, Abigail also prophetically encouraged David saying,

the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the LORD your God; and the lives of your enemies He shall sling out, as from the pocket of a sling . . . when the LORD has done for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you ruler over Israel (vs. 29-30).

It was another bold reminder that David’s life was inseparably bound with God’s promises to him; and, in spite of the circumstances, God was in control. She was confident God would deal with King Saul and her foolish husband at the right time.

Abigail’s words were confirmed ten days later when, the LORD struck Nabal, and he died (v. 38).

At times when David easily could have despaired and lost sight of his anointing, God sent Jonathan and Abigail to encourage him and strengthen his resolve.

Three millennia later in the 21st century, we can still hear the passion in David’s words: Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD (Ps. 31:24).

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Tapestry: The Meeting between David and Abigail, circa, 1620. By François Spierincx {{PD-US}}, via Wikimedia Commons ~ Enhancement courtesy: MKM Portfolios

When you courageously determine to follow the Lord, He will take the initiative to encourage you and strengthen your resolve so that you can persevere through hardship.

God did it for David. And, He can do it for you, no matter what you face in life!

© Charles E. McCracken 2016, text content only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author.