“So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Abdullam.” (1 Samuel 22:1)
For many of us, these past six weeks have created a deep sense of isolation and loneliness. Social distancing is poor phrasing, because we are by nature social creatures. I prefer to call it physical distancing. Even though our physical proximities are limited, we can still have social nearness through technology. Regardless of what we call it, it is an isolation that we neither created or have chosen.
I’ve always enjoyed the story of David in the cave of Abdullam because of the multiple layers of spiritual lessons it provides. David is known for his famous victory over the giant. But thereafter the story takes an unforeseen shift. In quick succession, David lost his job, his wife, his home, his counselor, his best friend and his self respect. 1 Samuel 21 concludes with saliva running down his beard, scratching the gate of the enemy like a madman.It was his lowest moment to this point in his life. During this period he penned Psalm 142, where he laments, “no one cares for my soul.”
Desperate and on the run, David looked for a place of peace, a respite of sorts. A place to regroup and think. But in the very next verse, his family arrived. There are two mentions of his family prior to this point, and neither are positive. The first is when Samuel went to the house of Jesse to anoint one of his sons as king. Jesse did not esteem David enough to call him from the shepherd’s field to be presented. The second was prior to the battle with Goliath, where his brother Eliab criticized his presence and youthful curiosity. Let’s not think that the family’s arrival cues a system of support. By familial association, David’s family became collateral damage. Because he was on the run, they were on the run.
But wait, there’s more. Soon after more began to arrive. There were those in trouble or distress, literally “under pressure or stress.” There were also those who were in debt, followed by those who were discontent, experiencing a deep bitterness of soul due to mistreatment or injustice. That’s quite a collection of people!
I believe that David had a choice. He could have chosen to walk away, saying “who needs it? I have my own problems.” But he didn’t run away like many do instead of facing their problems. He didn’t see the burden, he saw the blessing.
Caves bring the blessing of clarity to our lives. The cave was an opportunity for David to deal with an important question: Do I really want to be king? Is this what it looks like to be a king? Look at these people! Here he learned that if he could lead anyone, he could lead everyone.
It reminds me of Jesus, whose ministry followers were similarly in distress, in debt or discontented.
So here’s today’s question. What is the great thing that God has for you that your confinement is providing clarity? Tomorrow I’ll post the rest of my thoughts and share four lessons we learn in the cave.