Discouragement is one of the easiest things to feel. Most people discourage others without even knowing what they have done. When you feel discouraged it is not uncommon to look at others' lives and think that the feeling is one they have never experienced. Whenever I feel discouraged the Book of Psalms helps to encourage me. The words of the Psalmist seem to identify with my thoughts. Many of these Psalms were written by David, the second King of Israel. He is described in the Scripture as a "man after God's own heart" and yet there were many things in David's life that left him feeling hopeless and depressed. At these times he searched for the comfort of the Lord. Just when he thought that he could bear it no more, the Lord heard his cry and answered him.
David's Discouragement With His Brothers.
David was the youngest of all the children of Jesse. He was a shepherd boy who tended his father's sheep. When his father sent him out into the battlefield with food for his brothers, they shunned him and asked him just what did he think he was doing there. When David expressed that he could defeat the giant, Goliath, they laughed at him in scorn. At that time, David's brothers were discouraging him. He ignored their words and faced the giant. What they said he could not do, the seventeen year old did, with the help of Almighty God. At that moment, David became a hero. If he had listened to the words of his brothers and embraced the feeling of discouragement, it never would have happened. He leaned instead on the strength of the Lord and was empowered by His Holy Spirit.
David's Discouragement With Saul.
It is written in the Bible that David loved King Saul. He would sit and play the harp for him for hours in order to calm his spirit. He knew that Saul had been anointed by God and refused to do anything but love him for it. Saul, however, had been disobedient to the Lord and the kingdom was then taken from him and placed into the hands of David. From the moment Saul caught wind of this, he sought to kill him. Poor David was forced to live in hiding for years both in the wilderness and in the presence of his enemies the Philistines. This break in his relationship with Saul deeply disturbed David and he was discouraged for he could see no way out of it. He refused to kill Saul as he would never touch the anointed of God. It was at this time and others that he wrote Psalms. Psalm 59 speaks about his distress. He was hounded and felt no rest. He stated that many lay in wait for his soul and that they pursued him for no reason but hate. Yet through it all, he praised God and reminded Him that he waited for His redemption:
The God of my mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies.
Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield.Psalm 59: 10-11 K.J.V.
David's Discouragement With Absalom.
When David's own son sought to take his kingdom from him by force, one might just think that David would have thrown in the towel and let him do so. So many things had come against him in his life at that time. Yes, even David's own sin with Bathsheba had discouraged him greatly that this betrayal could have been the thing that broke him. But it did not. Though he was discouraged, again, David took strength from the Most High God.
Absalom, displeased with his father's handling of his brother Amnon's crime against his sister Tamar, took matters into his own hands and slew Amnon at a feast that he threw for that very purpose. When David heard this, he rent his clothes and mourned his son but he wished for Absalom to return. When he did return, he plotted against his father thinking him weak and conspired against him with many men. It was not in David's heart to make Absalom his enemy and even to his death, just like Saul, he never was.
In Psalm 3, David wrote:
Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.Psalm 3:1-3 K.J.V.
Absalom's betrayal deeply discouraged David and as he did whenever he was discouraged, he sought comfort in the Lord. The Lord answered his prayer and did indeed lift up David's head. He made many promises to David that were and are still kept.
What To Do When Discouragement Is Upon You.
Whenever discouragement comes upon you, it is wise to do as David did and seek comfort in the Lord. As he said in Psalm 42, hope in the Lord. Speak to your soul and remind your soul that there is no reason to be discouraged for hope lies with the Lord. Reading the Psalms truly helps one to realize two things:
1.) That there were Godly people before us who too felt discouraged and by encouraging themselves in the Lord they were able to overcome it.
2.) That as they were able to say their feelings to the Lord so are we. It is not a shameful thing to tell God of your discouragement. He will comfort you if you do.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.Psalm 42: 11 K.J.V.
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