View from the Cave

Click here for more messages from the book of 1 Samuel.
Click here to return to the Sermons page.

1 Samuel 22:1-5 (The Cave of Adullam)

INTRODUCTION:Our message series is on David and Saul, and today we are going to be talking about dealing with God’s delays. One of the things we learn from reading Scripture, as well as from life experience, is that God’s timetable is often quite different from our timetable. And it’s hard to be patient. You know the old prayer: “Lord, give me patience, and I want it now!” We want things to happen now, but, as we shall see, God is often more interested in what we are doing and learning in the meantime. (Read 1 Samuel 22:1-5 and pray.)

How do you personally deal with delays in life? A lot of us struggle with delays. Never mind the major delays or setbacks in life; some of us have trouble waiting for the red light to turn green! Delays are an inevitable part of life, but if you are going to learn how to deal with delays in a godly manner, you will need to learn to see them from God’s perspective.

There is a pattern we often see repeated in Scripture where God gives someone a promise, a vision or a task, but he then delays in fulfilling it, at least according to our timetable. For example, God promised Abraham and Sarah a son, but then they waited years for Isaac to be born. When Moses tried to stand up for his people in Egypt, he ended up tending sheep in the wilderness for 40 years. God gave Joseph prophetic dreams about ruling even over the members of his own family. But then Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, and he spent years in prison before the dream was eventually fulfilled.

A similar thing happens to David in our text this morning. God promised great things to David. David was anointed as the future king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:13), and everything seemed to be unfolding according to plan. David was brought into King Saul’s service (16:21). He defeated the enemy Goliath (17). He forged a friendship with Saul’s son, Jonathan (18:1-4). Saul gave him a high rank in the army (18:5). God was with David in everything he did (18:14), and all the people of Israel and Judah loved him (18:16). David even married the king’s daughter, Michal (18:27). Everything was falling into place for David to become the next king of Israel.

That is, everything was falling into place until it fell through the bottom. Everything suddenly ground to a halt. Saul grew jealous of David’s success and was determined to kill him. And all of a sudden David found himself on the run, literally running for his life. He became a fugitive: hiding out from Saul and his soldiers, sneaking food and weapons from the priests at Nob (21:1-9), even acting like a madman in the land of Gath in order to save his life (21:10-15). And that brings us to our text this morning. When we come to 1 Samuel 22, it seems that all of God’s promises have been put on hold, and David is now hiding in the cave of Adullam.

So, what do you do when life doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would, the way you thought God was leading? What do you do when you suddenly find yourself in a cave instead of the palace? How do you deal with God’s delays in life?

There are three things David did that can help us when we are also dealing with God’s delays. 1) He served God where he was at (verses (1-2). 2) He continued to seek God’s will (verses 3-4). And 3) He was quick to respond to God’s word (verse 5). We are going to look at all three of these actions of David this morning and see how they can help us deal with God’s delays in our lives.

I. Serve God where you are (1-2)
      – 1 Peter 4:19

How do you deal with God’s delays? First of all, serve God where you are. Look at verses 1-2:

“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. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.” (1 Samuel 22:1-2)

As we saw last week, Gath was one of the capitol cities of the Philistines. This was where David had to act like a madman in order to protect his life. Verse 1 tells us that David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. The word translated “escaped” here carries the idea of “slipping away, being delivered from danger.” David originally went to Gath because it was not safe for him in Judah. But as it turns out, it was not safe for him in Gath either. So, he left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam.

We are not sure exactly where this cave is located, but it was most likely near the Judean border, somewhere in the no-man’s land between Judah and the Philistines, about fifteen miles southwest of Bethlehem. There were many caves in this rocky, hillside area, providing David and his men shelter, concealment and security.

When David’s family learned where he was, they went down to him there. We’re not sure how they came to know where David was. Perhaps David sent them a message. But apparently, they didn’t feel safe around King Saul either, and so they went to be with David. And then all sorts of people started showing up at the cave. Most of these were people who were in some kind of trouble or other. Verse 2 describes them as “all those who were in distress or in debt or discontented.” These people all gathered around David, and he became their leader. The Hebrew word can also be translated “ruler” or “prince.” In some ways David is a type of Christ here who also ministered to the downcast and poor.

So, what did David do in the cave? He continued to serve where he was. He ministered to his family. He ministered to those who were in trouble. He did not become passive or paralyzed. He did not sit around and pout. He acted; he organized; he planned; he served where he was at.

There is a great verse in 1 Peter that tells us exactly what you should do when you are going through a difficult time. 1 Peter 4:19 says: “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”

   A. Commit yourself to God

What should you do according to 1 Peter? First of all, commit yourself to God. He is your faithful Creator. He made you, and he cares about you. He knows exactly where you are and what you are going through at all times. He has good plans for you. Commit yourself to him. So many people turn away from God when life gets difficult, but that is exactly when you need to be turning to him. Trust his work and his plan in your life, even during this time of trial. Commit yourself to following him, praising him, serving him.

   B. Continue to do good

And then Peter says, “Continue to do good.” Commit yourself to your faithful Creator and continue to do good. We all have a tendency to withdraw and become passive during times of trial. It is vital that you continue to act, to serve, to do good. That’s what David did. How do you deal with God’s delays? First of all, serve God where you are.

II. Continue to seek God’s will (3-4)
      – Ruth 1-4

Secondly, continue to seek God’s will. Look at verses 3-4:

“From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, ‘Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?’ So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold.” (1 Samuel 22:3-4)

   A. Remember what God has done in the past.

How do you discern God’s will for you in the present? Part of seeking God’s will in the present is remembering what God has done for you in the past. God is sovereign over our lives, which means that everything in life happens for a reason. Countless people can testify how God has taken even the worst things from their past and used them for good later on in their lives.

With God, nothing is ever wasted. And so, part of seeking God’s will in the present is remembering what God has done in the past and then building off of that. Henry Blackaby in his Bible study materials called “Experiencing God” talks about looking for the spiritual markers in your life, those key events and turning points that God has allowed to take place and which he wishes to use for the future.

David illustrates this for us in what he does for his parents. David didn’t want his parents to dwell in a cave or live on the run with him. So, he brings his parents to the king of Moab for protection. Moab was a foreign county. This was a fairly long journey east, all the way to the other side of the Dead Sea.

You might wonder, why Moab? Why did David bring his parents to Moab of all places? Because he remembered what God had done in the past. He remembered the story of Ruth in the Bible. He remembered how God had brought his great-grandmother Ruth out of the land of Moab and brought her into the community of faith in Israel.

David had Moabite blood in him. This was part of his story. The king of Moab would know this. David was a well-known warrior, and genealogies were an important part of identifying another person in those days. David remembered his roots. He looked to his past, and he trusted that this was part of God’s plan. And so, he brings his parents to Moab for safety.

Are there parts of your life that remain a mystery to you? You don’t know why God allowed certain things to happen? God is writing the story of your life, and although you may not understand all the details now, you will later. God can take even the evil things done against us by others and our own foolish mistakes, and he can turn them for good. Part of seeking God’s will in the present is remembering what God has done in the past and then building from that.

   B. Seek God’s will for the future.

David remembers what God had done in the past, and then he continues to seek God’s will for the future. Look at what he says to the king of Moab. “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?”

Notice that David wants to learn what God will do for him. David is not seeking his own will in this matter, but God’s will. He is not trying to force what he wants to happen and how and when, but he wants to know what God will do for him.

We need to do the same. We need to seek God’s will for our future, not our own.

III. Be quick to respond to God’s word (5)
      – Hebrews 4:12

How do you deal with God’s delays? 1) Serve God where you are. 2) Continue to seek God’s will. And 3) Be quick to respond to God’s word. Look at verse 5 with me now:

“But the prophet Gad said to David, ‘Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.’ So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.” (1 Samuel 22:5)

This is the first time we meet the prophet, Gad, in the Bible. Later on, the Bible calls him: “Gad the prophet, David’s seer.” (1 Samuel 24:11; 1 Chronicles 21:9) David actually had three prophets who guided and instructed him in his life: Samuel, Nathan and Gad. We find all three mentioned together in 1 Chronicles 29 where we read: “As for the events of King David’s reign, from beginning to end, they are written in the records of Samuel the seer, the records of Nathan the prophet and the records of Gad the seer.” (1 Chronicles 29:29)

Although the king had ruling authority over the people in Israel, the prophet who spoke God’s word was considered the higher authority. You could always tell a king’s heart towards God by the way he responded to God’s prophets. David was always quick to respond to God’s word through the prophets, even when they brought him bad news, even when they came to convict him of sin. David was always quick to respond, and this is one of the reasons why David is described in Scripture as “a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22)

And so, when it was God’s time for David to leave the stronghold, God sent a prophet. Gad the prophet spoke to David: “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” Judah? David had just left Judah! Judah was the last place David wanted to go at this time. King Saul was still looking for him to kill him. But David was quick to respond to God’s word, and he went anyways.

You can always tell a person’s heart towards God by the way they respond to God’s word. The word of God reveals a person’s heart. Hebrews 4:12 says: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Are you quick to respond to God’s word? What does your response to God’s word say about your heart?

   A. Be open to hearing God’s word.

What does it mean to be quick to respond to God’s word? First of all, you must be open to hearing God’s word. The first step to cutting yourself off from God is cutting yourself off from his word. Some people intentionally cut themselves off from God’s word because they don’t want to hear what God says. Perhaps they know what they’re doing is wrong, and they don’t want to be confronted by God’s word. Others cut themselves off from God’s word unintentionally – perhaps through laziness, lack of discipline or wrong priorities in their life.

How can you be open to hearing God’s word? David received God’s word through the prophets. We receive God’s word today through the Bible. So, if you are open to hearing God’s word, you will be reading the Bible for yourself. You will be sitting under the preaching of God’s word weekly. You will be studying it with others, memorizing key passages, and reading good Christian books that will help you to understand the Bible that much better. The first step in being quick to respond to God’s word is being open to hearing God’s word.

   B. Be quick to obey God’s word.

And then, secondly, you must be quick to obey God’s word. It is not enough simply to read the Bible or to hear it preached on Sundays. You must do what it says. God’s word is, well, God’s word. It is what God is saying to you. You cannot submit to God’s authority in your life without obeying God’s word.

How do you deal with God’s delays in your life? Do what David did. Serve God where you are. Continue to seek God’s will. Be quick to respond to God’s word.

CONCLUSION: The view from the cave can be a dark and lonely place. The surrounding walls of the cave can block your perspective. The view from the cave can sometimes be depressing, but it does not mean that God is through with you or that God has forgotten his promises. God’s delays are not necessarily God’s denials.

Think about Jesus for a moment. Jesus also went into the cave. He was crucified, dead and buried in the tomb. That was a dark day for his disciples. All of their hopes and dreams were crushed when Christ was crucified. All of their future plans lay buried in the tomb with Jesus. The view from the cave was pretty bleak that day. But three days later Jesus rose triumphant from the grave and fulfilled God’s plan for the ages.

When your life seems off course, when certain dreams or plans lay shattered at your feet, remember that God is still God. He has good plans for your life. The view from the cave is not all that God has for you. Even if you are in the cave due to your own sin or foolish mistakes, no matter how bad you or I may mess things up, God is still bigger than our sin or mistakes. He will fulfill his plans for your life if you will trust and follow him.

What do you do when you find yourself in the cave? Keep serving. Keep seeking. Keep following God’s Word.

© Ray Fowler

You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this message provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and that you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For any web postings, please link to the sermon directly at this website.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copies:
By Ray Fowler. © Ray Fowler. Website: http://www.rayfowler.org

Click here for more messages from the book of 1 Samuel.
Click here to return to the Sermons page.