Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6, NKJV).
Enemies attacked Ziklag, the Philistine city where David and his cohorts found refuge from king Saul’s attempts to kill him (1 Sam. 27:1-7). The invading Amalekites plundered and burned the city, taking captive the women and children, including David’s wives (1 Sam. 30:1-5). Sorrow consumed the people “until they had no more power to weep” (1 Sam. 30:4). Grief turned to retribution, and their leader David was in their crosshairs. Theirs was not an uncommon response, though unfair and unjust. David was innocent in the matter. He too was grieved, but not to despair. David knew he needed God’s help in this moment of crisis. The Lord was not a stranger to him; the Lord was his shepherd (Ps. 23:1). Sadly, many only turn to God in a crisis. But David could say, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence” (2 Sam. 22:2-3; Ps. 18:1-3). The Lord was his God, not the false idols of the Philistines. By the Lord’s strength, they recovered all (1 Sam. 30:8, 18-19). Turn to the Lord every day for your strength. Then, when a crisis comes, there will be no doubt the Lord is your God who will deliver you from the calamity (2 Tim. 4:16-18).
12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:12–13, NKJV)
Isaiah described Zion (Messiah’s kingdom) as a time when weak hands are strengthened, and feeble knees made strong (Isaiah 35:3). In Zion, straight paths for our feet are established by God’s word, from which we must not to turn to the right or to the left to do evil (Proverbs 4:26-27). Since we have come to Mount Zion and are redeemed by the blood of the reigning Lamb of God, it is no wonder Christians are now exhorted to do these very things (Hebrews 12:22-24; Revelation 5:8-10). Let us lift a discouraged Christian by bearing his or her burden (Galatians 6:1-2). Let us exhort a disciple who has stumbled along the path to repent and return to the right way of truth (Acts 8:18-24). Let us refuse to compromise with sin by warning those who stray into paths of error and immorality (Revelation 2:20-23). Strength in the kingdom of Christ is measured by service, not by being served (Mark 10:42-45). So, commit yourself to strengthening your fellow Christians and being a blessing in their lives. “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. (2 Thessalonians 3:3–4, NKJV)
Christians are urged to never doubt the faithfulness of the Lord. “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5). The Lord is always present to strengthen and preserve us from the devil and secure us in times of trial. However, this does not free us from our personal responsibility to watchfully “resist the devil” so that he will flee from us (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8). As verse 4 of today’s passage indicates, it is as we obey the commands of Christ’s apostles that our assurance of His strength and protection is realized. Standing fast in the Lord is inseparably connected to holding to the truth handed down to us by the apostles (2 Thessalonians 2:15). It is precisely when we choose not to hold fast this pattern of sounds words that we falter and give the devil an opening to settle into our hearts, much like he did in the life of Judas (2 Timothy 1:13; John 13:2, 27). Although Judas was with Jesus, he fell because he chose defiance and betrayal over trusting obedience to Jesus. Put all your trust in Jesus by obeying His commands. The Lord is faithful to secure you, and all who do so.
16 “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” (2 Timothy 4:16–17, NKJV)
Paul’s faith did not waver as he faced impending death at the hands of lawless men (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Forsaken by friend and foe, he was not forsaken by the Lord (2 Timothy 4:10, 14). Nor did Paul expect Timothy to turn away from him, as he urged him to “Be diligent to come to me quickly” (2 Timothy 4:9). Paul paid a great price as an apostle of Christ. Truly, the Lord showed “him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). Yet even now, surrounded by enemies and facing eminent death, Paul knew his mission, and was not deterred from fully preaching the gospel. Even so, we are faithful to the Lord, knowing He promises not to abandon us in our time of need. We may take courage from the faithful example of Paul, assured that the Lord “Himself has said, ’I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say; ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10–11, NKJV)
Peter has previously urged Christians to be humble before God, casting our cares upon Him because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:6-7). Now, he reminds us this does not mean our faith will not be tried and tested. God’s care does not remove the suffering that comes from being faithful to Him. There will always be faithless foes who try to foil your faith. The devil is always trying to deceive you into choosing sin and death. Enduring these present trials will help mature you as you remain faithful. Keep living for heaven in the midst of the storm. You will be strengthened by adversity, grounded and guarded by His grace. Never give up. Always rely on the Lord and live by faith. He has powerful control over all things. He has called you to eternal glory by Christ Jesus; He will not forsake you. Honor God for His great power and grace. Be faithful and true to Him.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
This verse does not mean I can lift 1,000 pounds as long as Christ is my strength (and if not, then that must be proof I am not relying on Christ to strengthen me!) Clearly, there is a context to Paul’s confidence, and his context must be honored when we appeal to this verse for solace. Paul was discussing contentment in the midst of joyful thanksgiving that the Philippian church had sent him some much needed material support (vss. 10, 14). Paul noted: “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). He had learned to be content living on meager means as well as having abundance. He was content whether he was hungry or full, and whether he had plenty or was in need (Phil. 4:12). It is this setting in which he knows he “can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Like Paul, we can endure whatever obstacle life sets before us when we learn to be content and rely on the strength of our Savior.