The New Year has brought a wave of new things. New routines, new goals, and new chances. Some of you may have committed to read the entire Bible this year and some of you may have committed to start reading the Bible this year. For me, I’ve committed to study the Bible. It’s not that in past years I haven’t read the Bible or the entire Bible, but I honestly find that I understand more, enjoy more, and believe more through a certain way of reading, which I refer to as “studying”. My technique looks like this, I choose a book, a character, or a topic and I read it slowly and methodically. I study it. I underline. I ask questions. And read what other people have written about it. My first study of the year has been the story of David. As I’ve studied David’s story I have been encouraged, challenged, and frustrated. One of the lessons I’ve learned from David is found in 1 Samuel 22. It says this:
“David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam.”
Allow me to give you a bit of background on the passage. David has been chosen by God to be King of Israel, but Israel currently has a king whose name is Saul. David has already killed a giant, gained rock star status, been promoted to hangout in the king’s house, then demoted to commander, and later demoted to enemy of the state. Saul’s insecurity, anger, and jealousy fueled an incredibly unfair hatred for David that drove David from his celebrity life to a cave in the desert. David had humble beginnings, was followed by a nation, and lost it all as a result of one lunatic’s jealousy. He sounds like Justin Bieber… Ok. Maybe not. It is an interesting parallel nonetheless.
So David retreats to a cave dejected, broken, and lost. Then, the writer of the story says,
“And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him.”
I find it interesting that David’s family knew his hiding spot, traveled to it, and spent time with him. The Bible doesn’t clarify the motive of his family, but I know that in the past his family resisted his rise to stardom. His family ridiculed him, accused him, and refused to acknowledge his rise to power, his anointing from God, and his rock star destiny. But now, they are with David; when everything falls apart his family is there. I am thankful for family especially in hard times. Family is a strong bond. A bond that can accuse, ridicule, and comfort all within a single conversation.
The writer of the story doesn’t stop with David’s family moving into the cave with him, but he then writes this,
“And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.”
Did you catch the nugget of encouragement to the reader? David has been fired, turned out, and is now being hunted as a fugitive who will not be tried, but murdered. In the moment of firing, failing, and loss we experience certain emotions. These emotions take us time to work through and some of us never work through them. The writer calls them “bitter in soul”. Do you know “bitter in soul”? Have you witnessed it? Have you been it? Are you it? David was “bitter in soul”, but David was something else. David knew someone else. David wrote 3 songs, while in the cave. I encourage you to read them; they are Psalm 142, 57, and 34. The Psalms express David’s frustration, David’s hope, and David’s faith.
David’s honesty was contagious, so contagious that 400 people “bitter in soul” came to him, lived with him, and followed him. He honestly said,“I’m bitter. I’m hurt. I’m fearful.”
David’s hope was encouraging. David knew that God would save him. He says so in one of his Psalms, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
David’s faith was encouraging. David’s faith was in God, the only One with power over his enemy, his bitterness, and his destiny. David’s gift was more than encouraging though, his gift was that God took his hurt and used it to heal other men. In his book entitled, “David: A Man of Passion and Destiny”, Chuck Swindoll applies David’s story in this way,
“Discouraged people don’t need critics. They hurt enough already. They don’t need more guilt or piled on distress. They need encouragement. In a word they need refuge. A place to hide and heal. A willing, caring, available someone. A confidant. A comrade at arms. You can’t find one? Why not share David’s shelter? The One he called “my strength… my Mighty Rock… my Fortress… my Stronghold…My High Tower.”
We know Him by another name today: Jesus.
Be of good courage, God will use your hurt to help people.
Hear more on David at CALG Downtown starting Feb 2nd at 10 am. CALG Downtown is located at 336 Gunter Ave Guntersville, AL 35976.