Sunday, February 26, 2023

David gathers a band of Outcasts in the Cave Stronghold

Two roads are beginning to form, two roads in two starkly different directions. We’ve both been on these roads. Maybe not to this extreme, but we have. We’ve seen where God’s path leads, to hope, to challenges, to victory, and yes, the valley of the shadow of death too, dark times, but, we’ve also seen where the road of self-sufficiency leads, compromises, paranoia, slowly going against everything we say we believe, until we’re doing things we never thought we’d do.

Two houses are being built, one is solid, the other is brittle, and caving in on itself. These are the two paths, one of David, the man of God, and Saul, the man in rebellion.

David’s on the run, he went to Nob, then Gath, but now he’s found a place to hide out. He is hiding out in a cave. For the end times Christians, who see the rise of the anti-Christ, well, they may see that day, where Christians are living in caves.

But it says this, 1st Samuel 22:1-2 says, “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. 2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.”

It's nice to have family that comes and helps you in your time of need. David’s family comes and gathers around him during this difficult time. Additionally, we see people who are distressed, people who are in major debt, and just discontented people gather around him, in the cave. And he becomes the commander of this band of outcasts.

He's living in a cave, but four hundred misfits and troublemakers gather around him and he becomes their leader. And they all live in the cave together. His family is there for him too.

The Bible refers to it as the cave of Adullam, but also refers to it as the stronghold or fortress. So it may have been an old fortified structure attached to the side of a mountain, maybe that wasn’t in use anymore.

David’s character is that of a leader, even in exile, even in hiding, people see he’s a leader and they want to follow him.

To follow Jesus is to take on a sort of leadership role in relationships. You are now shepherding people closer to Jesus. And people will begin to look to you to help guide them toward God. Do you see that happening in your own life? Then I would say you need to begin taking actions to guide people toward God. What sort of actions? Simple things. Inviting people to church is one. Bringing people to church is another. There is a difference. Sitting down and reading the Bible with a friend is another thing. Inviting people to Christian events in the community. Forming a group to go to a Christian venue. Pretty soon you are a leader, sort of gathering people together to seek God. Or simply sitting down one on one with people to guide them closer to God.

But don’t be surprised if you don’t seem to have many victories. Often times we as Christians have this message that could reach millions for Christ, but God starts us off very small, doing little things, with great love. And it doesn’t seem to be accomplishing much, but, God sees the big picture, that it takes years and years of faithful service to see seismic change. Be patient and work steadily, with endurance. 

Embrace your cave experience. It's common for any Christian, or Christian leader for that matter. God tests us in the cave of Adullam. You believe you're made for great things, then serve here humbly in obscurity for a season. Show me you're able to serve. Otherwise the heroic victorious phase will destroy you, pride will corrupt your heart and you'll become a Saul in the end. 

But David is still concerned for his parents, who are getting older in years. He knows he can’t keep them safe in the caves. So then it says in verse 3…

1st Samuel 22:3-5 says, “3 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?” 4 So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold.

5 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.”

So David has been in the fortress cave for quite a while, but, God tells David to leave Adullam, and go back into the land of Israel. So David ends up with his gang of followers in the forest now. He probably sets up camp. Builds fires, and they live in the woods for a while.

David obeys God’s command quickly to move to a new area. We should be just as quick today, to obey God if he tells us to do something or make some change in our lives. David’s character is that he is very responsive to God’s will. He does what God tells him quickly, without delay.

So three key points for having a heart like David, one, shepherd people closer to God, be a leader in the lives of the people around you.

Two, be patient in obscurity. You know you could be making a bigger impact. But you’re patiently waiting on God, faithfully trusting him with the little he’s given you. You know you’ve got to stay humble, be faithful, and patient.

Three, be quick to follow God’s leading wherever he sends you. Whatever he calls you to do, do it quickly.

Three points: shepherd people, patiently waiting, and obey God quickly.

That’s the road of victory in Christ. That’s how our hearts function in God’s system. His road is great.

But there is a second road, the road of rebellion that Saul is on. Now we turn to that road.

Saul is sitting under a tamarisk tree ranting like a madman, ““Hear now, people of Benjamin; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, 8 that all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day.”

9 Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who stood by the servants of Saul, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, 10 and he inquired of the Lord for him and gave him provisions and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

Remember this from 1st Samuel 21? David went to Ahimilek the priest and got food and a weapon from him. But it was noted that Doeg was there and saw it happen.

So Saul is so angry. He’s a leader, that’s certain, but he is not shepherding his people closer to God, he is shepherding his people toward rebelliousness. Be careful how you live friends. Your life, your words, your actions, your Facebook posts, all of it, is either shepherding people toward God or toward rebellion.

Saul is leading his people into sin. Saul calls forward the priest Ahmilek and accuses him of helping his enemy. Ahimilek says that he thought David was the servant of the king. Saul is paranoid and thinks he’s scheming against him with David.

Saul orders his officials to kill Ahimilek and all the priests. David was quick to obey the prophet Gad when he was told to leave the cave. At the same time, Saul is told by the priest Ahimilek to not harm him, because he’s not trying to do anything wrong. Saul is quick to do evil. His feet move quickly toward evil. He orders the death of Ahimilek and all the priests of God.

But his officials refuse to do it. They don’t want to harm the priests of God. Then I verse 18-19…

1st Samuel 22:18-19, “The king then ordered Doeg, “You turn and strike down the priests.” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. 19 He also put to the sword Nob, the town of the priests, with its men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep.”

So a great evil is done. What began as disobeying God a little bit here and there, has now become all-out rebellion against God. And that is how easy the path of desteuction is. We start with small compromises, and they lead to bigger and bigger compromises, and pretty soon we are leading people toward destruction by the hundreds.

Instead of shepherding people to God, Saul shepherds people toward evil and sin. Watch yourself, and guide yourself against the same. Your example is being watched. Make sure it’s a godly example.

Second, Saul is impatient and unwilling to listen to reason. David was patient and willing to endure problems and difficulties and obscurity. Saul is impatient. He faces problems and he chooses the quick and easy way of lashing out in anger and paranoia.

When you face problems as a Christian, which you certainly will, our faith will often be tested, you must respond by digging in closer to God. Your first reaction might be to run back to sin and the world. But instead, dig in deeper with God. Expect trials and problems and face them patiently.

Thirdly, David was quick to obey God and move according to God’s plan. Saul is quick to disobey God, and harm the people of God. Be quick to do God’s will or you may end up being quick to do evil. God hates the feet of those who run quickly to evil. Stop running to evil. Instead run quickly toward God and his path.

So the priests of God are slaughtered by Saul’s man Doeg. Let’s see how the chapter concludes, 1st Samuel 22:20-23, “But one son of Ahimelek son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David. 21 He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 Then David said to Abiathar, “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your whole family. 23 Stay with me; don’t be afraid. The man who wants to kill you is trying to kill me too. You will be safe with me.””

One priest escapes, named Abiathar, he finds David and seeks help. David does the right thing. He takes responsibility for the incident. Even if it wasn’t entirely his fault. He takes responsibility for what’s in front of him. That’s a character trait we should cultivate. I want to make sure I take responsibility for what is under my care. David shelters Abiathar, takes care of him. We should take care of those who are affected by our decisions as well. Take responsibility. That’s what a man after God’s own heart does.

The main points then are this, first though, what did Saul do, the opposite.

1. Saul shepherded people closer to evil and sin

2. Saul was impatient and unwilling to listen or learn, he was prideful

3. Saul was quick to act rebelliously and do wrong

4. Saul didn’t take responsibility for his actions, he had Doeg do his dirty work

In contrast, here is how we should live:

1. Shepherd people closer to God

2. Be humble and patient in obscurity

3. Be quick to obey God’s leading in life

4. Take responsibility for your decisions

Two roads, one is the way of God, the heart of God, a path leading to eternal life. The second, a road of rebellion, the path of Satan the rebel heart, a road that leads to destruction, to hell. Which will you choose? Let God change your heart. Live in faithful devotion to Christ, live for Jesus, then you’ll have the Holy Spirit within you, to guide you on the path of God, the path to eternal life.