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Discover the Book - Aug. 8, 2008

  • 2008 Aug 08

Graduating from the Cave of Troubles

As we look at I Samuel 22, may I remind you of David's situation? God was training David to be King of His people Israel. David had many lessons to learn in order to accomplish all that the Lord had planned for him to do.  

But, David had a problem. God wanted to shape him into a better servant but in the critical moment David waffled, and failed the test.  Isn’t that a situation we have also experienced? 

But the lessons that needed to be learned could only come in the school of affliction. Specifically, God had David enrolled in the cave of troubles. This cave in I Samuel 22 was where David would face his personal problems and people with problems that just wouldn't go away. 

Now, where had David just arrived from when he entered the Cave at Adullam? David was fleeing from Saul.  Remember that all this trouble in David’s life started when God took the kingdom from Saul because he refused to live by the new heart God had given him.  

God then gave the kingdom to David because David was "a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14).  David pleased God’s heart because God pleased David’s heart. "I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart,” he sang (Ps. 9:1).  

David’s deepest desire was, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).  

David prayed, “Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart” (Ps. 26:2).  

And, when God told David, “Seek My face,” David’s heart replied, “Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek” (Ps. 27:8). 

So God starts David’s technical education, preparing him to be the kind of servant God could use greatly. This involved some painful troublesome times guided by the Hand of the Lord. First he went to Gath, a Philistine city, for help. When he realized that his life was also in danger there, he “acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard” (1 Sam. 21:13). Thinking him to be mad, the Philistines let him go, and he was on his way to hide in the cave of Adullum. It was on that journey that David came to his senses and realized how foolish and unfaithful he had been to trust the Philistines for help instead of the Lord.  

David had failed the test at Gath, he had tried to take care of the situation by himself and without God. David was so discouraged about how he had failed the Lord that he felt abandoned—remember that as Psalm 13.  

Then he felt like he was in the pits—remember that as Psalm 40 and 70. 

But now as he walks to the Cave of Adullam he makes a resolve to start over with the Lord, to experience a new beginning.  

The cave of troubles was the only place David could learn what God wanted him to know. After David learned how to serve the Lord even while living in a cave of troubles, he recorded his testimony for us in Psalm 57. 

It was there that he declared, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast” (Psalm 57:7). He rededicated his heart, his innermost being, single-mindedly to God. David often failed, but his heart was fixed on God.[1] 

Now, go back three thousand years ago, into the harsh conditions of the cave of Adullam we can start to see the emotional and physical furnace of adversity and affliction that David had entered.  

Then we can fully see the depths of his insights recorded in these two Psalms. Because the next two Psalms we will study in depth—Psalms 57 and 142, are written from the context of I Samuel 22.

1 Samuel 22:1-4 David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. 2 And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him. 3 Then David went from there to Mizpah of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come here with you, till I know what God will do for me.” 4 So he brought them before the king of Moab, and they dwelt with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. 

One truth gripped my heart the longer I studied this passage—this event is so relevant to our world today.  

Often we are struck with the question in our minds--does God have any insights for me a 21st century believer faced with such challenges at work and at school? In other words, how do you make it in the classroom and workplace of America today?  

  1. MINISTRY KEY: David found and wrote down how God helped him to minister to these desperate men. The group that came to live and work around him were so representative of what the culture around us is all about. They were distressed, drowned by debt, and discontented with life. Isn’t that an apt description of an average American these days? And as we find in Psalm 57, David was able to minister to them. 
  2. PERSONAL KEY: David also learned how to not get his life and emotions dragged down by those around him. As we read these verses note the emotional condition of everyone that joined up with David. They were a very needy group. And in all their need, they invaded the life of someone just coming out of the pits. It was just the right recipe for a relapse by David into despair and a return into the pits. But the good news is—that didn’t happen, and the reason why is just what we are going to learn from God's Word. 

One of the times God had me enrolled me in a cave of troubles started thirty years ago as I entered Bible college. I volunteered to drive an evangelistic team on weekends that traveled out from the school. My car had eight seats and that was the draw—but it was a 1973 Plymouth station wagon with over a hundred and sixty thousand miles on it. 

I was in training for the ministry and was always asking the Lord to teach me what I needed to know to serve Him better. Little did I know way back then, that He would send the lessons through a series of troubles. For the entire year my car would break down in the most troublesome ways, and with the most wonderful lessons in God’s care. 

One weekend we were headed to Goldsboro, NC just five hours from school. We left in plenty of time to start the meetings by 7 PM. A half an hour outside Goldsboro the car died. All the lights went black as the engine stopped, and we rolled to the edge of the interstate. Within five minutes a state trooper pulled up, assessed the situation and told us we had to get the car towed off the highway. 

It was a bad section with not enough shoulder room for all the semis that filled that stretch of highway. Because it was a highway the tow truck had to be a double hook to secure the car for highway towing. All that to say it cost much more than we had or could spend on towing as we piled into the tow truck.  

The state trooper gave the rest of the team a ride to the service station. He had stayed long enough to watch all eight of us on our knees around the back of the wagon. The team had knelt in prayer with me before being picked up for a belated arrival for the services that night.   

Just before the trooper left he came up to me and said, “I just wanted to help a little” and handed me $10 out his window as he drove away.  

So an hour after the car died I was all alone in a service station somewhere in the dark NC  hills. The mechanic soon found me and reported it was an electrical  problem and it would be expensive. The towing was already $75 which we didn’t have. Usually the church paid for the gas when we arrived and then gave us enough to get home on after the meetings. 

As I sat in the smoky waiting room reading my Bible and praying while they worked on the car, I thought what was the Lord doing? We were committed, focused, and serving. We were only doing this trip to help share the gospel with lost and needy ones in a far off place.  

Why would this have to happen to us? I knew that I could borrow the money, then pay it back over the weeks ahead, but that would curtail my ability to transport the team. None of it made sense at that moment. 

After two more hours I got a call from the team that the meetings went well and they would send someone to get me if needed. Just then the service station owner came up. He told me that he had also seen us pray, and had watched the NC State Trooper hand me $10 out the window. So he said that he wanted to help too.  

He handed me the bills and said the tow bill, the repair bill and even some gas were his way of helping. Everything was paid for and I could go! 

What lesson did the Lord want me to learn? He wanted me to know that when troubles come unexpectedly, He has some powerful lessons for me to learn--lessons that I could only learn from going through difficult situations. It was after this year of troubles that I was prepared for the next area of ministry the Lord had planned for me--going behind the Iron Curtain and having to trust the Lord at all times for everything! 


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