David was called by God and anointed for kingship while still in his teens, but it was not going to be for another decade or so until he would sit on the throne of Israel. When God speaks to us and makes a promise we naturally assume that the fulfilment will be imminent. However this is often not the case. In His wisdom God does not usually tell us how long the wait will be. Joseph was 17 years old when he began to receive dreams about his destiny, but it was to be another 13 years before he would experience the fulfilment of those dreams (13 hard years when it would seem naturally that he was moving farther away from his destiny, instead of closer).
David, Moses, Joseph and many others knew the destination, but they did not know the route. For each of these significant Bible Characters, the route was a hard one. Often we will receive from God a promise, but we have no idea how it will be fulfilled. We know the destination, but not the route.
The Cave of Adullam
David appeared to have got lost on the route. He must have wondered if he had imagined the call or if Samuel had got things wrong. He lived with tremendous stress during this period of time.
There are many kinds of stress in life and it is impossible to avoid them all. David experienced physical privation, such as hunger and lack of sleep. He experienced financial stress, since he had no fixed form of income and no place to call home. He experienced the stress of being in constant risk of losing his life. He had family worries – he was concerned for the safety of his family. He carried the guilt of being responsible for the death of 85 priests who were executed because one of them helped David.
We are being constantly warned about the dangers of stress upon our health. Although some stress is avoidable, some is not.
David escaped to the cave of Adullam. Adullam was a city about 13 miles from Bethlehem and about 12 miles from Jerusalem and it literally means refuge or retreat. Near the city were a number of limestone caves. It was in one of these that David hid. It was here that he turned to God and prayed. What did he pray?
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; God sends his love and his faithfulness. I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts-
I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. (Psalm 57)
He also wrote Psalm 42 in this cave at this time.
Learning to make God our Refuge
In a place of physical refuge David chose to make God his refuge. He chose to entrust himself to God’s protection and care. In days of stress and pressure it is vital that we learn to make God our refuge? We could well be facing times of great uncertainty and economic pressure? Where do we turn for refuge? We all need a place of escape – do we choose the unreal world of television? Do we withdraw into our own little world? Do we turn to alcohol? Do we turn to a friend? (This is good, but it must never become a substitute for time alone with God). We need to learn how to run to God in such times. Over time this will become a well-
Not a Smooth Pathway
The pathway of God’s will is not a smooth pathway. It is often strewn with obstacles that need to be overcome. There are twists and turns and unexpected circumstances along the way. We can dream of a life free from mess and trouble, but unfortunately for most of us this will not be our lot until we enter heaven. David’s life was messy and full of trouble. In the midst of his trouble he learned to worship God – trust God – call upon God.
We often dream of another place and another time when it will be easier or more convenient to seek God and serve Him – it will never come. David’s amazing prayer life was forged in the fires of adversity.
Had David prayed as much in his palace, as he did in his cave, he might never have fallen into the act, which brought such misery upon his latter days. ( C H Spurgeon)
The People he Attracted
We can get an insight into a person’s heart by looking at the kind of people they attract-
While in his cave David attracted a large group of malcontents. Men who were distressed, in debt and discontented. David had been used to commanding 1000 or more well trained soldiers, but he was happy to mould this group of outcasts into a loyal fighting army.