Can it get any worse? How often have we asked ourselves this question? And admittedly, the answer to it is sometimes yes, as it was for David, weeping with his men at Ziklag, or what remained of it. After the exhausting 60-mile trek from Aphek, David finally arrived at the place where he had been living, only to find it wasn’t livable. The Amalekites had invaded their city, plundered their goods, kidnapped their families, and burned everything to the ground. But it got worse. Rather than uniting in their grief and supporting one another, David’s men turned on him, even planning to stone him.
David’s response to it all is both commendable and instructive. “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1Sa 30:6). How did he do it, and how can we today when the circumstances of life seem like they can’t get any worse?
First, note that David remembered his relationship with God. He not only encouraged himself in the Lord but in the Lord “his God.” Maclaren helpfully observed, “There was only one possession in all the world … that he could call his own at that moment. Everything else was gone; his property was carried off by raiders, his home was smouldering embers. But the Amalekites had not stolen God from him. Though he could no longer say, ‘My house, my city, my possessions,’ he could say, ‘My God.’” So can we. No matter what (or who) we may have lost, we cannot lose Him. When we need encouragement, He (the “God of encouragement” – Rom 15:5) is where we must begin.
Second, David undoubtedly meditated on the promises of God. This happened before, although it involved someone else. Jonathan “strengthened his [David’s] hand in God” (1Sa 23:16) when he was fleeing from Saul. He reminded David of God’s promise – “thou shalt be king over Israel” (v17). And he would be. Perhaps David even meditated on some of his own compositions where he delighted in the promises of God. Such unshakable promises gave him strength, and give us strength to go on when it seems like things can’t get any worse. At the very least, believing God’s many promises that there is a world to come where all will be made right helps us to stand firm when we feel like crumbling to the ground.
Finally, David took advantage of his access to God. In the verses which follow (1Sa 30:7-8), David sought guidance through Abiathar the priest and the ephod. He was not disappointed. He received another promise, which would come to pass, and “David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away” (v18). We have a Priest greater than Abiathar. Jesus, our Great High Priest, gives us access to boldly approach the throne of grace, and neither will we be disappointed. “Grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16) is available. We might prefer answers when we come into God’s presence, but grace will keep us on our feet when we need strength to stand.
When you feel like life can’t get any worse, encourage yourself in the Lord, remembering that He is your God, His promises are sure, and you have access to Him. He is personal, reliable and available.
 All Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV.
 Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1982), 387.