David’s life is not only a good example of the study of leadership but also a good example of how a believer can cope with discouragement. Leaders by default face discouragements arising from their different experiences in leadership (See. Ex.32: 19-30; Num.14:4-6; Ezra. 9:1-4; Nehemiah 13:23-31). Like the Scriptures teach in 2 Cor.1: 4, those who go through adversity are better placed to comfort others; out of the lessons of David’s discouragement he was able to offer succor and sanctuary to many of his volunteers who were victims of discouragement.
David suffered discouragements on several occasions. We shall examine some of the many instances. At Ziklag, David suffered one of the most devastating setbacks in his life. The Amalekites stormed his camp, plundered and burnt it down. They took David’s two wives and the families of his volunteers as captives. When David and his men returned to the camp, they were totally devastated by what they saw. They wept and cried uncontrollably because of the extent of the devastation. On top of all these, David’s men thought of stoning him. Out of ignorance, they blamed him for their losses. David’s reaction to this terrible situation is worth noting. “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” (I Samuel 30:6 NKJV).
The first step David took to overcome the discouragement was to encourage himself in the Lord. He probably worshiped and praised God in an effort to revive his spirit. The next step he took was to send for Abiathar, the priest. Abiathar had the ephod from which David sought to know the will of God. It is often advisable not to take a hasty decision when one is angry or discouraged. It is best to sleep over matters or allow some days before a decision is taken. Then, when Abiathar came, David inquired of the Lord, “So David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all” (I Samuel 30:8 NKJV).
Having cleared from God, David then set out to pursue the adversaries who plundered his camp. He eventually recovered everything they took from the camp.
The death of Saul was another low moment for David. Though Saul during his lifetime regarded David as an adversary, yet David had the greatest respect and admiration for Saul. He resisted all pressures from his lieutenants to kill Saul even when he had the opportunity to do so. David honored Saul as God’s anointed whom he must not touch until he died.
David wept profusely when Saul died. An emissary who disguised as the one who killed Saul and ran to bring the message about Saul’s death to David thinking that he would please David was summarily killed at David’s instruction. “So David said to him, “How was it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” “Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go near, and execute him!” And he struck him so that he died. So David said to him, “Your blood is on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed’ ” (II Samuel 1:14-16 NKJV).
David took a lamentation in honor of Saul when he heard about his death (2 Samuel 1:19-27 NKJV).