David Strengthened Himself in the Lord. How did he do this and what can we learn?
I love old saints.
People who have been there, done that and have got the story to tell.
It was a couple of retired missionaries that strengthened me and got me through a tough time. They loved to recall the stories of the mission field and the lessons they learned.
It was like they had a depth of faith that they could draw on.A bank of trust that I was able to tap into.
I was strengthened via the strengthening process they had been through.
We all need old saints to carry a lamp in our dark times.
Is their God any different to the God I know?
Is their God any different to the God that a young firebrand warrior called David leaned into?
David Strengthened Himself in the Lord
But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
1 Samuel 30:6
David was in a crisis.
He had returned home with his fighting men to discover that his town had been attacked while he was away. The town had been burned, and all the women and children had been taken, including Davids two wives.
There was a lot of crying and weeping.
Then the mood changed from grief to bitterness. Anger flowed towards the leader – David. Plans were made to stone him to death. But David strengthened himself in the Lord.
This has become a powerful verse for me.
I have it written in the cover of my cell phone to help me remember it and as a daily reminder about where to find strength.
When you’re in the pit of despair, you need a verse just like this.
The annoying, but possibly intentional aspect of this verse,is that it doesn’t tell the reader how David strengthened himself. The writer doesn’t give a ‘five-step plan to strengthen your life’ blog post.
Instead, it just seemed to come to David as the most natural of choices to make.
You see, David had built a reinforcing rod into his soul that was unbreakable under pressure.
The roots of his mind had grown and grappled around the solidness of God’s character.
I always marvel at the resilience of trees near the coast. New Zealand shores get battered by some ferocious storms.
Winds blowing up from Antartica leave nothing unchanged, yet these trees have stood the test of time. The wind has sculptured them to be beautiful and artistic.
Through both storms and stillness, they develop ties to the bedrock below them.
Microscopically small root hairs draw water and nutrients from the soil. They bind themselves to the surrounding presence, and that is the invite for us.
Strengthening is a habit
David had grown a relationship with God since childhood. From the days of leading sheep from pasture to pasture there was a prayer life of complete dependency.
He did everything to honor God with his being.
His prayer life was his place of coming to rest in someone bigger than himself.
It wasn’t an escape; it was more an embracing of the true reality of God.
Even when the way goes through
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure. Psalm 23:4
Having a prayer life with God strengthens our soul for the times when the wild storms hit.
I believe David also strengthened himself by recalling those times when God met and helped him through challenges.
Confidence grows through experiences that put trust to the test.
He would recall the stories of his ancestors. He would then overlay his own stories of life and faithfulness.
All of this building a matrix of strength.
How do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord
- We proactively build a relationship with God.
We have practices of reading the Bible, prayer, study, meeting with others of like mind, silence, stillness. The list can go on and on, but we are proactive in making choices to build the relationship.
- We remember the stories.
We remind ourselves of times when God supported and strengthened us. If we could go through it once then, we can go through it again. This is why journalling can be so powerful. In looking over old journals, I can see how God has helped me time after time.
- We create signposts.
When the storm hits, we can easily forget about the bedrock we have available to us. My Mother had a list in her Bible. I have a verse in my cell phone case. For you, it could be some verses on a fridge magnet. They are physical reminders to help us be strong.
The ability to get through the toughest of times comes from strengthening yourself daily. Resilience grows day by day through relational dependency on someone bigger than the problems you face into.
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Quotes to consider
- Far from being a sign of weakness, only surrender to something or someone bigger than us is sufficiently strong to free us from the prison of our egocentricity. Only surrender is powerful enough to overcome our isolation and alienation. David G. Benner
- Our thirst to know God must become stronger than our thirst for anything less. Dr. Larry Crabb
- You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise. Maya Angelou
Questions to answer
- What daily habits help reinforce your life for when the tough times come?
- What ‘signposts’ do you have?
- Do you have a favorite go-to verse that helps you?
Image cc: Vitaly Taranov