David & the Secret Cave
1 Samuel 22:1-4
David had become an overnight celebrity and favorite son in Israel after he had killed the Philistine giant, Goliath. Jealous Saul tries unsuccessfully to kill David; but he escapes to the cave of Adulam, where four hundred men who were in debt, in distress, and disconnected from society joined him. These men were the outcasts of society, black sheep no one wanted, and didn’t meet the standards or expectations of society or the religious establishment.
I have felt like David and his men in my own life. Maybe you have felt that way as well. I have felt like a failure as a parent, as a husband, and hid myself away within the confines of my personal cell. In Jesus’ day, people with leprosy were banned from society and were restricted from freedom others had. In Jesus’ day, no one would even come close to a leper if his life depended upon it. Except for Jesus – He accepted the man with rotting flesh, the person everyone felt had failed and sinned against God. Who knows – maybe this leper with no name was a father, a parent, and husband. Today, we don’t have to be a leper to feel abandoned and alone. As a husband and father of two children I must do all I can – regardless of my position in society – to run to the arms of Jesus anytime He is near. Like the leper of old, Jesus is always willing to reach out and touch us.
David hid in the cave, his secret cave, and made it his stronghold until he could see what God would do with him. Every father today needs a stronghold, a cave of prayer and fasting. But David enters the cave with a lot of blood on his hands. He was a fighter, and even in his teenage years was not afraid to fight a bear, a lion, or the giant. But David needed to learn that to lead others, it takes more than a slingshot, a sword, and sheer grit. His courage, like that of all fathers today, needed to be tempered with the fruit of the Spirit for the needed new kind of leader to emerge to replace Saul.
In the dark cave of solitude, with nothing but his harp, David engages God who implements a new season of change in his heart, sprit, and soul. David now had four hundred men who looked to him for leadership and they too needed to be changed before they could emerge as the mighty men of valor God wanted them to become. With the exception of pastors, as a modern day father you probably do not have 400 men looking to you for leadership and guidance – but your wife and family are. We have way too many absentee fathers neglecting their families today. They are the key to leading our families in Christ. A Christian husband and father cannot lead where he has not tread. Just as Paul admonished Timothy regarding his pastor duties to “keep a close watch on your life and doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:16), so it is true of the “pastor” of his home.
Day-by-day, God’s Spirit hones David into a new vessel teaching him to first — Practice Patience. David needed to be willing to wait on God’s timing to inherit the throne, and to trust that God would take care of Saul without David’s interference or retaliation. David needed the patience to do simple things perfectly in order to acquire the skill to do difficult things more easily. You see friend, like David, if we can ultimately experience a God-like change to become better fathers, and if we accept the radical change that God brings our way, we grow. But if we resist change, there is the potential to suffocate spiritually. Remember, the husband/dad who practices what he preaches (obedience, humility and grace) will himself reap joy in his home.
Second, David needed to get into the proper position and spiritual alignment to receive God’s promises. God was telling David, “If your actions inspire others to dream and grow more, to learn more, do more and become more, you are on your way to becoming My leader and king.” Like David, we too need to learn subjection to a greater wisdom than our own. As a parent, our personal example in life lived-out in front of our family is the primary means for training our children and having a stronger marriage.
Thirdly, David needed to learn to prioritize his life for God in order to lead those whom God sent into his care. David was quick to fight, to defend the sheep and God’s name; but he also needed to be patient and learn to wait on God. Without these characteristics, he would have ultimately broken under the pressures of life and leadership like Saul did. If David adopted a motto while in the cave, it was probably something like this: Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape. Like David, we too need to seek what we (guys) truly need (as much of the Holy Spirit as we can), so we can really follow God into the dark corners of our hearts and the mysterious land of our faith. We must seek to become men of spiritual value, in order to become men and fathers of spiritual success.
While in the cave, David took time to be alone with God by engaging in quiet time, worshipping, and playing his harp before the Lord. From this, Psalm 34 was birthed. David came to understand that he was a child of prophetic delay going through a transitional season of change, and he learned to love the process as much as the reward. And most importantly, he found that spiritual incremental increases led by the Spirit are greater than instantaneous gratifications of the flesh which get ahead of God’s timing. Every father who desires to be a better husband, friend, lover, and parent needs to spend time alone with God. Just as our heavenly Father is light, so earthly fathers need to be salt and light to their families.
Maybe you find yourself in a cave like David while the Lord is transforming you into a new creation. Remember dear friend, the Holy Spirit, God’s skillful surgeon, has been commissioned to probe deeply into our innermost being and separate the precious from the vile. To receive all that God has for us, we must give Him all that rightfully belongs to Him and embrace the Spirit as He works His perfect will in our lives to mold us into a Godly vessel. Only then will our passion find purpose and, like David, we will be entrusted to do daring things as we walk in the light of His revelation knowledge.
I read a story the other day about an Emperor who ordered his servants to wait at a distance as he approached a monk’s spiritual cell alone. He removed the crown from his head and hid it and then knocked on the door to the monk’s humble dwelling. The monk, upon opening the door, immediately knew that it was the Emperor standing before him, but he pretended not to recognize him, welcoming him as a fellow traveler. They prayed and sat down together. Then the Emperor began to question the monk saying, “How are you and others like yourself doing here in the desert?” The monk replied, “They all pray for your health.” Then the Emperor looked around the tiny room and saw nothing except a small basket containing bread, and the monk said to him, “Eat.” Then the monk dipped the bread in water, poured oil and salt on it, and gave it to the Emperor, who ate it. And the monk gave him some water and he drank. Then the Emperor asked, “Do you know who I am?” The monk replied, “God knows who you are.” The Emperor then identified himself, and the monk bowed at the waist in homage. The Emperor said to him, “You are truly blessed because you do not have the cares of this world. I was born to kingship, and the affairs of my empire are a constant concern to me. Each day I dine on the richest meats and cakes and the finest wines are poured into my goblet. And yet, today mere bread and water has satisfied me as no sumptuous feast ever has.” And the young emperor marveled and went his way.
Spiritually speaking I believe the monk’s cave represented his duties regarding his relationships. As a father today we, like the monk, need to guard our marital and family relationships. If we leave our cave (responsibilities) we might find ourselves flirting with the world and/or infidelity. Remember Peter? After he denied Christ “he went outside” and was sorrowful. The monk’s tiny cave then, was his nexus of relationships, his vocation and duties to those around him, and of course to God. Leaving those responsibilities behind only brings its own set of tensions and burdens within and to those around us. Staying faithful as a father and parent provides those around us with a safe, loving, and caring cave of our own to find refuge from life’s storms.
Psalm 91:1 gives us the best illustration of the value of a secret place: “He that dwells in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
David had a secret cave, the monk had one. How about you?
Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” To really connect with God, we must enter into the secret place and meet Him there.
Meet the Author
Alan Bullock has a BA in Biblical Studies, a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling, and an earned Doctor of Theology. In addition, Alan is a Certified Pastor Counselor, a member of The International Association of Christian Counseling Professionals (IACCP), and also a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC).