40 Days of Prayer and Fasting – Day 18 – Strengthen Yourself in the Lord

…”David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6

There are few stories in scripture as compelling as the account from 1 Samuel 30. It shows a time when great warriors of God come under the most horrific attack. They are completely undone and beside themselves with grief. All is lost- including sanity. But David – equally undone- finds strength in the Lord his God. Let’s read this stirring story today.

David Destroys the Amalekites

David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God. (emphasis mine)

Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”

“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind. Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit.

They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights.

David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?”

He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.”

David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?”

He answered, “Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.”

He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.”

Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were. But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.”

David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this. 1 Samuel 30:1-25

David was a man after God’s own heart. He loved God. God loved him. His men loved him. However, during this account, when all hearts are raw and undone by grief, of losing wives and children, each person is completely unable to function or think.

The verse that stands out to me is the passage I highlighted in red- David encouraged himself in the Lord. David’s losses were just as great as every other family. There was not a family untouched by this military raid. They were in complete pain. As the leader, what was David to do? His friends threatened to kill him. They blamed him for the attack, because the men had been out preparing for a battle when the raid came.

There was nothing David could do, except turn to the Lord. I imagine the men throwing things, throwing dust on their heads, tearing their clothing. Maybe they were hacking away at burning building structures with their swords or knocking over tables with their fists. David, on his knees hears them speaking his name in anger and desperation. Yet, inside of his thoughts- inside of his “what ifs” and “why Gods?!!” he felt a spark- an inclination.

He remembered every time God had delivered him before and he knew that the Lord could make him strong. David overcame by the word of his testimony.

The word strengthened in the Hebrew is ḥāzaq. In essence it means, “To tie up (like a bandage), refusal to let up; show strength that does not yield or quit; (figuratively) unrelenting, stay gripped, holding on to; cling with great “resistance-strength” being immovable; tenacity, strength which does not let go, won’t let up, staying gripped (“locked on”); stout, unyielding.” This is what David did in the Lord. He didn’t find the strength in himself. He knew he had nothing. He knew he was sitting in ashes and defeat. He knew he had no power in himself. He strengthened himself in the Lord.

Photo by Lopez Robin on Unsplash

I imagine David, dripping with sweat and tears running in streaks through the dust on his face, kneeling in the dirt with is head bowed. Strength comes into him as he grips his fists tightly, clenches his teeth and with a deep roar from his belly cries out, “Bring me the ephod!” The ephod was given by God for the people of Israel to ask him for direction. The priest Abiathar would have held it in a pocket on his priestly garments. Inside the pocket were two stones- one was the Urim and the other the Thummim. It was used similarly to casting lots. If one stone came out, the answer would be yes. The other would mean no. On this occasion, David received his YES! Go!

He spent all of his energy or ḥāzaq seeking the Lord and his men were rallied under the call from God to pursue the raiding party that had attacked and kidnapped their families. They went from futility to focus in 10 seconds flat. This is what happens when you strengthen yourself in the Lord.

In the middle of a trial where the enemy is bearing down, discouraging us, accusing us, stealing from us and we feel utterly dismayed, we must strengthen ourselves in the Lord. The result from David was victory and the recovery of all that the enemy had stolen from him. In this story, not a single person was lost. Everything was recovered!

This word ḥāzaq – is found another place in the scriptures. In this place, it also refers to a strengthening of resolve. Yet, in the place, it was not a positive outcome. In Exodus 7, we have the account of Pharaoh of Egypt. He is faced with a difficult situation and a call from God through God’s prophets Moses and Aaron. Yet, he decides to  ḥāzaq or to harden and resolve to be against the Lord.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.”

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.

So, our human nature in the face of difficulty and trial is to do one of two things- to resolve to stay gripped and strengthened in the Lord or to become hardened against the Lord. In our human anger, we can easily become bitter or discouraged and turn away. David’s men were ready to do something they never would have imagined an hour earlier because of their anger over their great loss. David was in despair. Yet, his resolve was set to turn to the Lord for deliverance and strength. Pharaoh was given the ultimatum from God to repent and he wouldn’t repent. He resolved to resist God.

What are we doing with our resolve and our hearts? Are we strengthening in the Lord or against the Lord? When we face great trials, we need to become gripped with his strength and power.

We are facing many trials. Let us not lose heart.

Focus on the God who brings us victory through Jesus Christ!

“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” a made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” b Since we have that same spirit of c faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

1 Corinthians 4

Let’s Pray! Let this be a prayer guide today. Spend time today not just praying this word for word, but using these scriptural concepts to seek the face of the Lord from your heart.

  1. Father in heaven, hallowed be your name! (Spend time praising the Lord for who he is.)
  2. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Lord, let your kingdom come into my life and my family. Build your kingdom here, Lord. Let your kingdom be established in your people. May our lives be transformed here by your power. We are your living stones. Build us together into your holy temple, Lord. Let us not be divided by petty squabbles or political arguments. Let us be united in Spirit and in truth through Jesus Christ. Give us compassion and understanding for others- not judgement and criticism. Yet, let us not shrink back from justice and mercy. Let us stand for truth in the marketplace and in the streets. Lord, let your will be done in our nation. Forgive us for taking America back from you and making it what we want it to be. Please make America what you want it to be, Lord. Do not forsake your people here. Continue to build your walls of safety around your people. Do not let the walls be breeched by the enemy’s plots and plans.
  3. Lord, I strengthen myself in you. I resolve to follow you. I fix my eyes on you- in spite of the difficulties that I am walking through. I fix my eyes on you in the middle of my storm. I fix my eyes on you, and I refuse to lose heart. Strengthen me when I am afraid. Go to battle for me, Lord. I ask you to defend me and be my advocate. Show me where to fight your battles. I don’t need the ephod, because I have your Holy Spirit. Lead me, Lord. Lead me today in your ways.
  4. Lord, forgive me for the times I have hardened my heart against your ways, when I am angry or afraid or feeling defeated. Forgive me! I forgive those who have injured me, in Jesus’ name. I forgive those who have done evil against me or just hurt my feelings in some way – even by accident. I know that my unforgiveness doesn’t reflect your love or your heart and it keeps me from hearing from you. Forgive me for hardening. Soften my heart. Create in me a clean heart, Oh Lord. Renew a right spirit within me.
  5. Lord, forgive me for my rebellion. Forgive me for my weaknesses. Strengthen me in my weaknesses. Give me your light to shine brightly. I bear your name. Uphold me, according to your unfailing love. I ask for this, Lord.
  6. Forgiveness for unknown sin- Lord, if there is anything I have done out of ignorance, please forgive me. I do not want to offend you. I ask that you strengthen me today.
  7. Worship the Lord for his grace and mercy. Thank him for his deliverance and love. Focus on Jesus and his gift of eternal life. Thank him for adopting you into his family. If you need a guide for everything Jesus has done, use Ephesians 1.
  8. Lord, lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil. Lord, the world is full of evil. Satan parades as an angel of light. I do not want to be deceived. Please protect me from deception and temptation. No weapon formed against me shall prosper, in Jesus’ name. I stand against Satan’s plans and assignments to destroy my life, my family, my friends and my church. I plead the blood of Jesus over my life, my family (name them individually), my friends and my church. I ask, Lord that you will strengthen me for the fight. I put on the armor of God from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I pray that you will skillfully and powerfully destroy Satan’s plans to destroy me. Deliver me, according to your unfailing love. Reveal all lies to me, Lord. Reveal all lies and remove all defeat and hopelessness, in Jesus’ name. Your name is mighty, Oh Lord. Your name is holy. In the name of Jesus, Satan has to flee! Praise your holy name!
  9. Lord, lead me in paths of righteousness for your name sake. I ask that you establish my steps and my paths. Guide me by your Spirit. Lead me into all truth. Give me direction. Thank you, Oh Lord for your direction.
  10. I pray for our nation. I pray that you will strengthen the church and it’s leaders. Strengthen the people of God and raise up laborers for your harvest field. Show us the ripe harvest, oh Lord! I ask for people to come into my life who are ready to hear from you and to hear about you. I ask that you show me the people who are ready and ripe for salvation. Help me to plant many seeds through prayer, and speaking your truth in love.
  11. Pray for the spiritual leaders, pastors, teachers, missionaries and their families. Please Lord, protect our pastors, their families and those in spiritual leadership. Shelter them with your shield. I plead the power of the blood of the lamb over them. I pray that you break the power of a spirit of suicide, depression and despair that is harassing and pushing them down, in Jesus’ name. Raise them up in power. Build up those who are under attack, as they lead people who are under attack. Like David, raise them up to be strengthened in the Lord. Fill them with hope, determination and direction to follow Jesus in difficulty, Lord. Thank you! (Pray specifically for the leaders in your life.)
  12. Pray for the weak, the sick, the elderly, the lonely.
  13. Pray for God to protect the children from abuse and destruction. Starting with the unborn and continue as the Lord leads. Pray against trafficking. Pray for children to be rescued, delivered, healed and saved.
  14. Pray for those who are being tempted with sexual sin and being tempted with pornography and even to commit crimes against others. Pray for their release from darkness and depravity. Pray for the Lord to bring forth testimonies of deliverance- life from death.
  15. Spend time lifting up Jesus and thanking God for his death and resurrection. God is so good!

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