So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s household heard of it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter of soul, gathered to him; and he became captain over them. (1 Sam 22:1-3)
The Cave of Adullam was a dark time in David’s life. The father of his closest friend (King Saul) was out to destroy him. Several failed attempts were made on his life. David was a fugitive in hiding. But despite all of the attempts against his life, David remained faithful in his love for the Lord and his love and respect for the King.
The biggest mystery of this story is what was going through Saul’s mind concerning David? What fueled Saul’s hatred towards David? Was it political? Was it ambition? Was it fear? Was it righteous indignation? Was it his competitive nature? Was David in the way of Saul’s plan? Was it jealousy?
Scripture tells us that Saul grew jealous of David and this jealousy fueled hatred towards David. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end well and in the end David looses a dear friend. What I find interesting about the story of David and Saul is what David learns during this dark time in the Cave of Adullam.
The first lesson David learns is to keep his focus on God alone. It is during this time that he pens the words to Psalm 142… interesting words written by a man being pursued by his friend and King.
I cried out to You, O Lord:
I said, “You are my refuge,
My portion in the land of the living.
Attend to my cry,
For I am brought very low;
Deliver me from my persecutors,
For they are stronger than I.
Bring my soul out of prison,
That I may praise Your name;
The righteous shall surround me,
For You shall deal bountifully with me.”
If you notice, David doesn’t focus his prayer on what Saul is doing to him. Even in his cry for help, David keeps his focus entirely on the Lord. It is during this time that David learns the power of honest and gut wrenching prayer.
Have you ever experienced that kind of prayer? The kind of prayer that you pray when there are no words to pray? When tears choke out the words that your mouth tries to form? When the pain of loss is so great that all you can do is moan in silent agony? It’s the prayer of the falsely accused. It’s the prayer of the misunderstood. It’s the prayer of the betrayed. David doesn’t allow this prayer to turn into the embittered cry for revenge or the indignant cry for retribution. David doesn’t allow this prayer to become the rallying cry for hatred towards Saul. David focuses this prayer on the cry for refuge in God alone.
The second lesson that David learns is that God is his portion in this life. Saul was seeking to protect his “portion” of the kingdom. David was a threat to Saul because God had given the kingdom to David after Saul disobeyed the Lord. This wasn’t David’s fault. This wasn’t something that David pursued. If you remember the story, David was in the middle of a field in the Judean Desert when the prophet Samuel called him out and anointed Him. Somehow I think the lesson of God as our portion is lost in much of today’s church.
But if you notice David’s prayer… He recognizes what or more importantly WHO is his portion. His portion isn’t found in a position. His portion isn’t found in prestige or power. His portion isn’t found in possession. His portion is found only in the Lord. Is the Lord your portion? Or is your portion the Lord plus an important position? Or is your portion the Lord plus prominence? Or is your portion the Lord plus possession?
On the outside we all want to say that the Lord is our portion. But in the secret places of our heart – where God sees – is that true? You don’t know how true this is until you face the ultimate test of lonliness that David faces in the Cave of Adullam. It’s only when God brings us to the dark cavernous prison of utter rejection – when even those whom we believed were our friends turn against us – that we discover that God alone is our portion. Those who have faced this dark time of ministry understand what I’m speaking of when our faith and calling is tested beyond the point of breaking – and only what is of God remains. It’s the point where the heat of God’s fire is so intense and the dross that rises to the surface is swept away by the touch of the Spirit until all that God sees when He looks into the depths of our hearts is His reflection. It’s the point where we identify with the crucified life and proclaim with Paul – I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.
The third lesson David learns is the lesson that only God deals bountifully with us. When I look to man to deal bountifully me, I am always disappointed. Men are imperfect. Men seek to position themselves above or below or beside me. Only God deals bountifully with me. David was brought low by Saul. It was David’s dealings with men that brought him to the darkest moment of his life. But it was God’s dealings with David that brought him to a place of abundance. The abundance of God was recognized by other righteous men.
Men of strength often use their strength to persecute those whom they perceive as weak in order to bring them very low. God deals with us bountifully in order to lift up. What a difference in how God uses power versus how men use their power. What about you? How have you used the power and position that God has given to you? Have you used it to bring others low? Or do you deal bountifully with others? Have you taken advantage of other’s generosity in order to further your personal ambition? Or do you repay the generosity of others by honoring them? What I’ve discovered is that righteous men recognize the abundance and anointing of God. Men of the flesh fight against those whom God has blessed and anointed.
If you are a Christian for any length of time, you will face your own Cave of Adullam. You will face your own time when the kings in your life will misunderstand you, attack you, reject you and even try to harm you. After all, even the men we look up to are merely men. Sometimes they are misled and find themselves saying and doing things they later regret. At those moments, all of us are tempted to lash out in self-defense or self-justification. One word… DON’T. You never know how God may turn around or heal a relationship. You don’t want to hinder the work of God by reacting out of your own hurt feelings.
When I was first married over 24 years ago, my wife and I received a prophetic word. Part of the word said to Roxie and I was… “when the Cave of Adullam comes, I’ll give you strength my son to run. Saul is not a part of you.” Recently the Lord brought this word back to mind and unraveled the meaning of it to me. As I’m now writing from my own Cave of Adullam, I have the opportunity to put into practice what David sang about in Psalm 142. I concur with David. Strong men will use their strength to bring us low, but God deals with us bountifully and in the end, He alone is our portion. So I will focus on God alone and thankfully righteous men do recognize the anointing and blessing of the Lord. As God has dealt and continues to deal bountifully with me, I can testify that He will deal bountifully with you.
Be of good cheer!!!