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For Cave Dwellers Only
Scripture: 1 Samuel 21; 22; Psalms
Track 7 of 19 in the David: A Man After God's Heart series
Running time: 1 hour, 01 minute

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Have you ever done anything so ridiculous that once you had some time to think about it, you wondered to yourself what in the world you were thinking? At the moment, it seemed the right thing or the only thong you could do. But what you did really was stupid. Anybody want to share an example? How quick on your feet are you when you mess up and you try to recover or try to save yourself from looking stupid?

I have too much pride at times. That is my biggest weakness. I don't like to look stupid or dumb but I find myself stepping into stupidity at times and instead of just admitting it and going on, I try to cover myself. My attempt to recover can be even worse. One time I was walking in to see a customer on a real icy day and as I got out of the car, I slipped. I knew I was going down but instead of just letting it happen, I tried to save myself and really looked ridiculous with my hands waving and my legs going in every direction. I eventually went down but it took awhile and my actions got everyone's attention so all could see me take a flop. I received a 3 for my ice skating maneuver.

People believe, say and do dumb things all the time. It is amazing to me what some people actually think. Just recently the following answers were found on high school science tests:

"The pistol of a flower is its only protection against insects."
"Mushrooms always grow in damp places and so they look like umbrellas."
"H20 is hot water, and CO2 is cold water."
"To collect fumes of sulfur, hold a deacon over a flame in a test tube."
"Three kinds of blood vessels are arteries, vanes and caterpillars."
"To remove dust from the eye, pull the eye down over the nose."
"The alimentary canal is located in the northern part of Indiana."

How do you feel when you find yourself in the absolute wrong place to be or the wrong situation? It could be the wrong neighborhood, the wrong bathroom, at the wrong wedding, patting the butt of a strange woman you thought was your wife, it could be anything?

Well David had bottomed out; he was in a downward swirl of events. He lost his job, lost his wife, lost his home, his counselor, his closest friend and finally his self respect. In fact, as he stood before king Achish and the Philistine warriors who recognized him, in order to keep himself from being killed, David had to think quick on how to respond so Achish didn't kill him.

1 Samuel 21:10-15 That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. But the servants of Achish said to him, "Isn't this David, the king of the land? Isn't he the one they sing about in their dances: "'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands'?" David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard. Achish said to his servants, "Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?"

David just acted nuts. He knew his cover was blown and he had to do something that would make him undesirable, non-threatening, in many respects, pathetic and ridiculous. He did it so well that Achish paid more attention to his insanity than who the man really was. Achish was the king and he had no time for such a madman; besides, the great hero of Israel was not a madman nor would he act that way.

So David slipped away. Again, he was able to escape and get away from danger. But safety didn't seem close to David. Where would he go? He had no home, no country he could go to.

1 Samuel 22:1 David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam.

Here was the great hero of Israel, the champion over Goliath going off to live in a cave. This was the lowest moment in David's life so far. If you want to know how he really felt, you can turn to Psalm 142. This Psalm was written by David during this period in his life. He had no security, no food and he had no one to talk to. There was no promise to hold on to and he had no hope that anything would ever change. He was alone in a dark cave, away from everyone he loved, except for God.

What is going on in David's soul while he was in that cave by himself? Have you ever felt the same way, felt the same loneliness?

In spite of all his despair, he did not forget God. He cries out to God to deliver him. Here we see the very heart of the man, the inward place that only God truly sees, this unseen quality that God saw when he chose him to be the next King of Israel. David was the kind of man that when everything was lost, David would turn to the one true source of strength, God.

The Challenge: What it Involved

Why does God do these kind of things to man? Why does he let us go down into the dark cave from time to time in our lives? Many times man thinks it is because God is mad or wants to punish us. But most of the time it is to challenge us, to make us better, to mold us in to the person God wants to use. The next time when tough times are upon you, instead of asking God why bad things are happening, ask the what; what are you making me in to and what do you want me to do? Don't think you are ruined or lost, a time to end everything. It is just the cave, not the end.

This is exactly the case with David. The cave was an important time in David's life. David doesn't advertise his needs except to God. Look what happens. In the same verse where David went to the cave of Adullam, God answers his prayers.

1 Samuel 22:1-2 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.

The last time David's family was mentioned in scripture, what was their attitude about him? His father forgot him when Samuel asked to see his sons and his brothers ridiculed him for wanting to fight Goliath. What do you think changed them? Why were they there?

Why do you think God sent to him those who were just like him; those in distress, in debt or discontent? What role do you think they played in David's life at this moment in time? To those in the cave, many times they don't want to be around people, they just want to be alone. Probably at this point, David was low and wanted to be by himself. But his family crawled right in the cave with David and they refused to let him stay alone. The others also came to David so he knew he wasn't alone in his circumstances. Saul also hated them. Israel at that time was under stress because of the evilness of Saul.

These men would be the start of an army that David would eventually call his Mighty Men. They would be the ones who would become his body guards, those men David could always count on. They had souls that were similar and they started together from the period of the cave in their lives.

Caves are valuable but there is one very important fact God wants us to understand, we were not created to live in caves. We are not cave dwellers. He doesn't want us there all our lives. David was there only a short time, just enough time for him to sort out things and to reaffirm that God was the only crutch he needed to go on in life. Quickly God turned his cave into a place for him to train others and formulate a small army that God could use.

Can anyone tell me who Robin Hood was? Why was he such a great hero?

It is right after his time in the cave that David and his men become what we know as Robin Hood and his Merry Men. They lived in the rugged Judean hills hiding in mountains; David was a maverick king doing maverick things on behalf of God's people. Even though Saul was out chasing after him, David went about doing things for the people he met; winning the hearts of the people. David makes a critical decision in his life, not to walk away from what God has in store for him no matter what it was. With that attitude, God could do anything with David.

There are two other Psalms that David writes while in the cave; Psalm 34 and Psalm 57. As you read these, you can see a progression from David being beaten down to a man who has his eyes firmly fixed on God and bringing his men along helping them to focus on God as well.

Psalm 34:17-22 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.

Notice the change. It changes from the focus being on just himself to include others. When he first started to write about this experience, it was about him being alone crying out to God. Now it includes others around him.

Psalm 57:7-11 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

There is a stronger exuberance about him; you can see the confidence coming back and you get the sense that he is totally focused on God and ready to do what ever God wants without fear or hesitation.

Why the Change: Why Did It Occur?

There are a number of reason why David changed from a man who had all his crutches knocked out from under him and hiding in a cave to a strong maverick king ready to do God's bidding like he was with Goliath:

Because David hurt enough to admit his need: How much pain does a person have to go through before they will admit they are hurt? One of the first rules in football I learned is this, if you are hurt, tell someone. Most men don't like t admit they are injured because they fear they will be looked upon as being week. But injuries left unattended make a man weak over time. The same is true with God. The sooner we admit our weakness to God the quicker He can do something about it.

Can you identify any incidents in your life that you feel helped to form your personality? How deep are you willing to go; how much are you willing to be vulnerable to others so they can see the real you and your real needs? Is that easy for you to do or hard?

David was honest enough to cry for help: Charles Swindoll wrote the following statement:

"We have lived under such a veneer so long in our generation that we hardly know how to cry for help."

Do you agree or disagree with that statement? Why?

David was humble enough to learn from God: How tragic it is for some people who move from one cave to the next in life and they don't learn a thing from God. Not with David, he is a man full of humility. If God wanted him in a cave, great…he would then make the best of it. If it were for something else, then that was fine. David, shortly after being anointed king was found back with the sheep. He didn't have a big head. He was willing to wait on God and do things his way.

There is a very dangerous misunderstanding about being a Christian; that once a Christian, life should be one with a silver lining all the time. But that is not always the case; sometimes the Christian life includes the deep, dark cave. Here is a thought to think about:

The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment,
but the making of a saint is the task of a lifetime.

Sometimes the making of a saint requires the darkness of a cave. Too often we try to fake our way through the cave period rather than open ourselves up to learn from God. It is okay to feel the way David felt. When was the last time you cried out to God totally throwing yourself on his mercy and grace. David allowed God to bring him out of the cave and he learned the lessons God wanted him to experience.

There was one main reason why David survived all the ordeals he had to deal with. David knew he had a refuge. I wonder how many Christians today even think that way; depend upon God as a refuge. Some probably don't know what a refuge is.

Whom do you turn to when there is no one to tell your troubles to? Where do you find encouragement?

Psalms 31:1-5 In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.

Discouraged people don't need critics. They hurt enough already and have plenty of critics. They don't need more guilt or piled on distress. They need encouragement. In a word, they need a refuge. Are you open enough, available enough to be a refuge for someone who needs help? Can you lead someone to the perfect refuge through your own actions?