So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s household heard of it, they went down there to him. 2 Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him. 3 And David went from there to Mizpah of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother come and stay with you until I know what God will do for me.” 1 Samuel 22:1-3
I encountered the verses above in a very personal way two years ago this month. My dad was very sick. The situation required me to make a three-hour drive -one way- as often as twice a week, while maintaining my job responsibilities and my own family. I was burning the candle at both ends, and I was absolutely exhausted. I was also discouraged. I knew I was doing what God wanted me to do, but I didn’t understand how God was going to work out my situation. How was I going to be able to do what I needed to do for my parents and still keep doing what He wanted me to do and maintain my sanity in the midst of it all?
Then one day the Lord met me in these verses. I saw David facing his own crisis of faith.He was destitute, discouraged and in danger. His circumstances brought him a dark, damp, dreary, depressing cave. He is at a low point. He retreated to that cave in despair. He was joined by a host of others in similar circumstances. But what really touched me, is that in the midst of that situation, David is trying to figure out how he can best care for his parents. Think about it. David had a host of brothers. Where are they? It is David who bears this burden on his own heart.
I knew when I read these verses, that God was trying to tell me something. I didn’t know just what. So, I spent some time looking at what David said. As I did, God began to show me some things that greatly encouraged me. I hope they will encourage you.
Remember, this was a low point in David’s life. He was living in a kind of limbo. His life was on hold. He was stuck in a terrible period of difficulty. Here are the things God showed me about David.
First, David Didn’t Know What God Was Doing.
Have you ever faced such a time in your life? Maybe that is where you are today. God promised David a kingdom, but he was living in a cave. There are times when we find ourselves in one of life’s cave experiences. It seems to us that all of our help and strength is gone. We are suddenly overcome by loneliness and despair. Even in a cave full of people, David felt all alone! Have you ever been there? David was living in the cave of despair, and he didn’t know what God was doing.
This is a rock bottom moment in David’s life! He is hurting, broken, and defeated. God’s promises seemed out of reach. His life, His future, and to a degree, even his faith, was on hold. On top of it all he was trying to take care of aging parents.
The statement: “Until I Know…” makes it clear He just didn’t know what God was doing. It was a time of devastating uncertainty in David’s life.
In the midst of his uncertainty, Saul, his enemy, still searched for David every day. He wanted David dead. It was for that reason that David was hiding. This was not a short space in David’s life. It seems to have spanned more than a decade. He would get out of that cave, but it would be years before David would get out of this season of despair that entered his life.
There are times like that for all of us. We just don’t know what God is doing. Maybe you are in one of those seasons today. You can’t see God’s hand. You can’t trace his plan. David didn’t know what God was doing. But in spite of that, David makes this incredible statement of faith: I need make sure my parents are cared for, “Until I know what God will do for me.”
While on the one hand, that statement is an admission that David didn’t know what God was doing, on the other hand, it expresses his confidence that:
God Was Doing Something.
Even though you may not know WHAT God is doing, do you believe that God is doing something. You may not be able to put your finger on what it is, but you know God is at work in and around your life.
What was God doing? This cave, became for a time, a place of separation where David was brought to the place where he had nothing to depend on but God alone. Because it was a place of separation, it also became a place of preparation. It is in times of difficulty and discouragement, when trouble seems relentless, we are forced to ask questions about ourselves and about our faith.
Is God with me? Will God take care of me? Is He working—even when we don’t know what He is doing? It becomes a great test of our faith when we must choose what we will believe about the God we serve. David didn’t know what God was doing, but he did sense God was doing something.
Perhaps the first indication of God’s activity were all these people who came to join David in that cave. They just seemed to show up spontaneously. All of them were just as discouraged as David. Look at that motley crew God called to join him. They didn’t seem to be people of promise. Yet, it was some of these discouraged folks who became David’s mighty men whose exploits in courage became legendary.
What touches me about this passage is that this period of David’s life also impacted his family. He felt a very real responsibility for them—especially for His parents. He takes them to Moab. Why Moab?
If you are a student of the Bible, you will remember that David’s Great-Grandmother was Ruth, the Moabitess. She married a Jewish man named Boaz. They had a son named Obed—who had a son named Jesse. Jesse was David’s dad. Ruth was David’s great grandmother. She was from Moab. Do you suppose there were relatives in Moab, David thought he could trust to look after his parents?
He took them there he said, “Until I know what God will do for me.” This leads me to the next observation I want to make about this verse:
David Was Willing to Wait For God.
The Bible gives us insights into some of David’s feelings during this very discouraging time in his life. Consider these verses from Psalm 57. They were written by David when he fled from Saul and hid in this cave.
Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. 2 I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.3 He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. Psalm 57:1-3
Psalm 142 was also written by David when he was in the cave.
I cry aloud with my voice to the Lord; I make supplication with my voice to the Lord. 2 I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him. 3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.4 Look to the right and see; for there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; no one cares for my soul. Psalm 142:1-4
Obviously, he was in the middle of an incredible period of difficulty and discouragement. But David was willing to wait on God. Will you? Will you trust God until you know what He will do for you? David was willing to wait in danger or in difficulty. He didn’t know what God was doing, but his faith made him believe that God was doing something and he was committed to wait on God.
All of us find ourselves in times of discouragement. Our lives seem to be on hold. Our destiny seems down the drain. We are stuck in a dark cave of despair. It is in one of those seasons that David chose to surrender his life, as well as the life of those he loved into the care of God.
My dad died just a few weeks after I encountered these verses. I look back and I see how God was caring for me and for my parents during those difficult days. I didn’t know what God was doing. However, I sensed God was doing something. God taught me that in those times, all we can do is wait on God, as David said, “Until I know what God will do for me.”
Photo by Anaya Katlego