Read I Samuel 21:1-24:22
David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and
his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there.
I Samuel 22:1
Go Deep: If you are like me, you want to live in the never-ending summer of God’s blessing—the sunshine of his grace—where you’ll flourish and enjoy a fruitful life. But to get from here to that land of spiritual fruitfulness, you will have to first endure some “cave-time”.
The cave is core curriculum in the school of spirituality. Call it whatever you want: the pit (Joseph’s “cave”), the desert (Moses’ “cave”), the prison (Paul’s “cave”), the wilderness (Jesus’ “cave”), the cave is to Christians what Camp Pendleton is to marines: Boot camp! It’s basic training for believers. Every believer gets cave-time!
The cave is the place of testing. It’s the blast furnace for moral fiber—where your mettle gets tested! Put a person in the cave of distress, discouragement, doubt or delayed hopes and true character is revealed. The cave always reveals just how much work God still has to do to get you ready for great things. In the cave of Adullam, God revealed to David that his good looks, musical skill and winsome personality weren’t enough for the kind of king Israel needed. Saul had that—looks, skill, charisma—but he didn’t have the kind of depth with God that the leader of a God’s people needed. David needed more of God; the testing of the cave clearly revealed that.
The cave is also a place of learning. David recognized that he needed “cave time” so he could “learn what God will do for me.” (I Samuel 22:3) In the cave, David learned what it meant to fully depend on God, because God stripped him of all his misplaced dependencies: his position (David went from fair haired boy to fugitive overnight), his friends (David was separated from his best friend, Jonathon), his spiritual mentor (Samuel died while David was in the cave) and even his dignity (he actually had to feign insanity to escape the Philistines). These were all good things in David’s life, yet God knew that they were a barrier to the great things he had in store for David. So God removed them.
The cave was perhaps the most frustrating period in David’s life—but in hindsight, it turned out to be the most fruitful. That’s because the cave is also the place of forging. As an unknown poet said, the cave is where you are, “pressed into knowing no helper but God.” And that’s exactly what happened to David in the cave of Adullam. Through the discipline of that place, David came into a profound experience with God, and that is the one thing David would need to be a great king.
That’s what God does in the cave. And by the way, God does some of his best work when we are experiencing “cave time”. It was there in the cave of Adullam that David wrote three of his most moving psalms—Psalms 34, 57 & 142.
Psalm 142 shows us that David learned to talk openly and honestly with God—and that God could handle David’s raw emotion. David got brutally honest with God in the cave, and it was great therapy: “I cry aloud to the Lord…I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.” (Psalm 142:1-2)
Psalm 52 shows us that David learned to toughen up in the cave, because God was training him how to “king it!” That’s why David said of his “cave time” experience, “I cry out to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.” (Psalm 57:2)
Finally, Psalm 34 shows us that David learned to look for God in the cave. It was there David found that God was his all-in-all, and out of experience he penned Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
So here’s the deal: If you are in a cave right now, I want to remind you of some good news: You are not alone—God is with you. And furthermore, God understands all about caves. He’s been there! You see, the son of David, Jesus, was stripped of everything, too. He lost his position as a spiritual leader. His own family criticized him. His friends ran away. He lost the adoration of the cheering crowds. He suffered the mockery of a trial and the humiliation of a cross. And when he died, they buried his lifeless body in a cave, and it looked like it was over!
But God does his best work in caves, because it’s where he resurrects dead stuff! That cave was where a dead Messiah became a Risen Savior…and your cave is where your dead dreams, or maybe your dead ministry, or perhaps your dead career or even your dead marriage will take on resurrection life.
Your cave may be very deep and dark and devastating to you, but here’s the thing you need to know: God works in caves! So stay patient, pliable and trusting—your resurrection is coming!
Just Saying… What a great reminder, that, as Spurgeon said, “Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.” Perhaps it would be a good idea right now to thank God in advance for the grandeur that he is forging from your “cave time”!