Light in Dark Hours!
George Everard, 1885
"But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God." 1 Samuel 30:6
It was one of the very darkest moments in David's chequered life. North, south, east, and west — wherever he looked, black clouds covered the sky. At the moment to which these words refer, he had not one single ray of earthly comfort to cheer him. He was an exile from his own land for fear of Saul; he comes back to his home at Ziklag to find it burnt with fire. The Amalekites have invaded the land, and have taken captive his wives, his sons and daughters, and have spoiled him of all he possessed. His men also had suffered no less; so "David and the people lifted up their voice and wept until they had no more power to weep."
But the prospect grows darker still. More trouble comes on apace. David's own followers turn against him. Though their captain and their best friend, though no fault of his had caused their loss — yet they look upon him as an enemy and speak of stoning him. Then shines out like a bright lamp, the faith of this man of God. No comfort, no beam of hope, no friendly voice, no bit of sunshine or blue sky anywhere around — but faith pierces the darkness and sees light beyond. He flies to God, and hides in Him. He knows that in Jehovah he has a strong castle, a high tower, a safe dwelling-place, and to this he immediately turns.
"David encouraged himself in the Lord his God." He thought of marvelous deliverances from the spear of Saul. He thought of the faithful care and mighty help that had never yet failed him. He knew that God was his own God, who had made him great and sure promises. So in the hour of greatest distress he trusted and was not afraid.
And God honored him for his brave and constant faith. We hear no more of his men stoning him. He traced the path of the enemy, and came upon them unawares, and recovered all. Nothing was lacking, and moreover he took great spoil. He found that "man's extremity is God's opportunity." His faith in God was strengthened, and he could go on his way rejoicing.
I take this subject because I know that it has a lesson for school-boys. From my recollections of olden times, I know there are hours in school life when everything looks dark and cheerless. Sometimes a lad finds life a burden, from petty persecutions which he cannot escape. There may be some natural infirmity or peculiarity about him. His appearance, or speech, or manner has something about it that causes remark. Or envy at his success makes him enemies — or his carefulness to avoid evil is a silent reproach to his school-fellows. Something or other feathers the shaft, and he meets with perpetual annoyance. It is nothing very great as seen by an outsider, but it is very real and trying to the lad himself.
Like flies, gnats, or mosquitoes, which you cannot drive away — there come little irritations, vexations, and annoyances, rubs and cuttings, speeches and misrepresentations of what you say — why, a great, heavy sorrow would be nothing compared to these daily provocations which he must bear, and for which there is no help.
Or a lad's trial may take another shape. He may fail in his studies with the very best desires, and after his most persistent efforts; so he may lose the position or the prize which he has set his heart on obtaining. He may seem neglected by the tutor, and imagine that cleverer lads get more care and attention than himself.
Or his own home may be the cause of his sorrow. There may come a great blow. He may lose a beloved parent to whom he owes everything — or a favorite sister. Or there may be a secret trial in the family that weighs down his spirit, though he cannot speak of it to anyone.
I know not what your trial may be, my young friend — but is there not something at times that sadly mars your peace? Make David's resource your own. Fly to God for help and comfort. Many a lad repines and murmurs, and flies from God — but you must fly to Him. However sinful and unworthy, do not try to hide from God, but by faith in Christ make Him your shelter and hiding-place. Like David, you must know God as your own God. And you can only do this by trusting in the Savior's name, and in His all-sufficient mediation. Then you will be near and dear to Him as the apple of His eye.
Encourage yourself in God. Whatever you lose, whatever you lack — He will supply all you need. All things in earth and Heaven are His, and if you trust in Him, no good thing will He withhold.
Encourage yourself in God. Though beset with foes and fears, though disappointed and downcast, though standing alone like a pillar in the desert — yet hope in God. He is the Father of the fatherless, and the Friend of the friendless, and lifts up those that are bowed down. "If God is for us, who," or what, "can be against us?"
Encourage yourself in God. Though it be midnight with your soul, though neither moon nor stars appear — yet all things come to him who waits on God. He can turn the valley of Achor into a door of hope, and give you thence vineyards of joy.
Never was Joseph so near the throne as when in the dungeon. Therefore cast anchor in the dark, and hope to the end. "I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance, and my God!"