What Does Godly Encouragement Look Like?

Don’t underestimate the impact your encouragement might have in someone’s life.

There is something extraordinarily powerful when encouragement comes in person. When’s the last time you went out of your way to seek someone out to offer them a word of encouragement in person? Jonathan could have sent a messenger to Horesh, to relay a word to his friend, but he did not. He made sure to get there and to show up in person. That’s what friends do. Whenever you can, be there in person.


If you’ve ever been in the wilderness, you know it can be a lonely place. And that’s when we most need the encouragement of a friend.

1 Samuel tells the dramatic story of David’s rise to Israel’s throne as the anointed king. But if you’re familiar with the story, you know it’s full of twists and turns. David is anointed by the prophet Samuel while still a very young man, and years go by before he is established as king. In the meantime, Saul is still on the throne, even though God had made clear his rejection of the Benjamite king.

By the time we get to chapter 23, Saul has massacred an entire Israelite town, Nob, and slaughtered all the priests with the exception of Abiathar, who manages to escape to David. Meanwhile, David is saving God’s people at Keilah from the plundering raids of Philistine troops, only to then discover that if they have the chance they will deliver over their heroic redeemer to Saul.

So there he is, in the wilderness, reeling from an avalanche of difficulties.

What did Jonathan do? He “rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God” (1 Sam 23:16). What does that mean? I like how the CSB translates the same verse: he “encouraged him in his faith in God.” What is genuine encouragement?

1. Meaningful encouragement is personal.

While Saul cannot seem to track down David, Jonathan has no such difficulty. However, it was no small thing for Jonathan to make the journey from Gibeah to Horesh.

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