From the darkness of the cave to the light (I Samuel 22-23)

Series: David, a man after God's heart


We need to put ourselves back in the context, this afternoon; so, let’s start back with an overview. We saw, last week, or two weeks ago, that when David talked to Jonathan, he was very discouraged and distressed. He was, also, filled with fear. And so, he runs from that point to Nob, to a priest, whose name is Ahimelech. And you remember that David lies. He does this, although, he is not a liar. But David, at this point, is so filled with stress and so afraid that he does something that he ordinarily would not do. He lies in order to get some food! Then, he leaves Nob and goes to a Philistine city called Gath. Here, he does another foolish thing. The king of the city is named Akish and he is an enemy of David. So, when David is brought before him, he falls on the ground and he begins to mark on the walls, on the doors. He even spits on his beard and foams at the mouth, for the scripture says, “He pretends to be insane!” And from there, to Chapter 22, he goes down to a stronghold, to a cave, named Adullam. David’s father, brothers and 400 men, in distress, come to him. They, all, become his companions and his servants, in his time of trouble. David has, once again, become a leader!

Now we start there, this afternoon, in Chapter 22. David is in this cave, trying to get over his discouragement and his fear. The first thing he does is he goes out of the cave and he goes to the Moabite king. And he says, in verse 3, “…” So he wants a place of safety, for his parents, until God tells him what to do. And the Moabite king says, “Yes, I’ll provide the place of safety for your parents!” And you may be wondering, this afternoon, “Why?” Why would this Moabite king be such a friend to David and his parents? Well, do you remember, one of the first lessons in our series? Right after the Book of Judges, we went into the little Book of Ruth and we looked at her story so that we might be able to look at the story of David. God seemed to be saying, in this book, that this is the beginning of David, for Ruth was the great grandmother of David. She was the grandmother of David’s father, whose name was Jesse. And Ruth was a Moabite. David has Moabite blood! And now he says to the Moabite king, “Will you help me and provide safety for my parents?” And the Moabite king says, “Yes, I’ll help you!” And now, David goes back to the cave, with all his men.

But, the prophet of God comes to him and he says, in verse 5, “…” And I know that David didn’t really want to do that. I know his companions, or his soldiers, didn’t want to do that either. But they went! And there they start to hide in the forest of Hereth. While in that forest, David receives very bad news. Do you remember, that time, when David had gone to Nob, to the priest, Ahimelech, and had lied to him? Well, while he was there, one of Saul’s servants was there, watching. And he saw the priest provide help for David; but he didn’t understand and thought it was a conspiracy. See, he didn’t know David had lied. He didn’t know Ahimelech was innocent. And, in his misconception, he runs back, to Saul, and says, “Saul, Ahimelech is helping David!” And Saul breaks out in his rage, again. And he takes his spear and his soldiers up to Nob. There, Saul calls Ahimelech and says, in verse13, “…” And Ahimelech says, in verses 14-15, “I don’t know what you are talking about!” But Saul is so furious, he will not hear. He says to his soldiers, “You go kill Ahimelech and all his family!” At first, no one wants to obey; but finally, one man comes out and he kills all 85 people for Saul. And I guess, Saul has the taste of blood in his mouth; for in his manic madness, he orders another massacre. In verse 19, we read, “…” Nothing escapes, not even the babies and the animals. There’s a massive slaughter in Nob! Only one person escapes, that’s Abiather, the son of the priest, Ahimelech. And he finds David and tells him the story. And when David hears this man, he says, in verse 22, “…”

Can you imagine hearing the kind of news that David has just heard? Have you ever made a mistake, in life, a tremendous mistake caused by your own foolishness and innocent people were hurt? And you tried to carry that around, for a long time. I knew a man, once, who killed a child. I was working with him, at the garbage company, picking up trash, during vacations. He was the truck driver for our particular area. And, one day, he backed up in an alley and a little boy, on a bike, fell beneath his wheels. He didn’t hear it. He didn’t notice until later. Cops came to him, at his work, asking if he had seen the kid because they could only find his bike. And when they started to look around, they only found remains of the child on the wheel shafts. This man just dropped to the ground. He went into a deep depression, for a long time. And yet, it wasn’t really his fault that he couldn’t turn the truck around! Well, I can’t imagine what David felt! I think he must have been like that truck driver. It was because of his foolishness that all of this had been triggered. All the children, the women and men had died, because of him.

And no sooner than this news passes, David gets more bad news. Someone comes and says, “Keilah is being attacked, by the Philistines!” Keilah is a city of Judea and David’s heart is attached to Judea. So when he hears that, his heart melts, because the Philistines are attacking his brethren. So, he asked the Lord, Chapter 23:23, “…” And so David turns to his soldiers and says, “We’re going to go fight for Keilah. And the soldiers say, “David, we’re afraid to even be here, in this forest of Judea. How much more will we be afraid if we go out and find the Philistines? Saul will find us. We don’t want to go!”

So David turns around and asked the Lord again. “Do you want us to go?” And God says, “Yes, I want you to go fight and you will have a victory.” So David takes his soldiers and they fight for Keilah. And, again, he comes out with victory. The Philistines are beaten badly. But the news spreads all over the land and Saul hears that David is in Keilah. And so, he takes his army and goes up there to kill David. And David hears news of that. So he goes before the Lord and asks, in verse 11, “…” Keilah will favor Saul. How do you think that made David feel? He just saved these people. And now, these people are going to turn against their savior and befriend this mad man, Saul. So David is forced to run again. And this time, he ends up in the desert of Ziph. The Zyhites live there and they are the descendants of Caleb. And Caleb was from the tribe of Judea. David is, also, from the tribe of Judea; so they are distant kin to David. And, maybe they will accept him. But it is not so. Saul begins to pursue David and the Ziphites send a message to Saul saying, “Come down here and we will hand David over to you.” So again, David is rejected and he begins to run. But, this time, Saul almost catches him. God has to intervene. And while Saul is ever so close, a messenger comes to Saul and says, in verses 27-28, “…” So David is safe again, for a little while! And that’s the end of Chapter 23.And we stop the story, this afternoon, at this point! We will try, in the next few minutes, to make some points that we all can remember, as we go home.

I. In your foolishness, you may hurt others.

The first lesson is a rather brief lesson. As I have mentioned before, David became so discouraged and depressed that he began to do some foolish things. He lied. He pretended to be a mad man and he went to a cave to dwell, in his own self-pity. And we saw how dangerous distress is for the depressed person. But when David did his foolish deeds, he also implicated innocent people.

And one of the things I would like you to understand, this afternoon, is that you don’t live in this world, by yourself. And sometimes you get discouraged and you begin to do some foolish things and other people, even innocent people, get hurt. There is a priest, named Ahimelech, all of his family and his entire city who were slaughtered because David did something foolish, in that city. And I wonder how many young people have become discouraged with life, broken-hearted and filled with fear and have done something very, very foolish? And now, Mom and Dad carry scars, for a lifetime, because of what the young person has done. And I wonder how many husbands have become discouraged, in their walk, and have gone and done some foolish deeds. And now the wife and the children carry scars, from that point forth.

And what we all need to remember is, we don’t live by ourselves and, sometimes, we do foolish things and, not only hurt ourselves, but we hurt other people. And I don’t believe, this afternoon, we have a God-given right, at all, to hurt other people.

II. To get out of depression, look without, not within

There is a second lesson, this afternoon, from the life of David that we need to see. Did you notice the remarkable change that took place in the early verses of Chapter 22? I look at the end of Chapter 21 and find David, acting as a crazy person. I find him, on the run, scared and depressed. But then, suddenly, he walks out of that cave a different man. We saw several reasons for that change, a few weeks ago. (1) He went to the right people. (2) He leaned on God. But there is one other thing that happened. (3) He took his attention away from himself and directed it on others, once again. As he walked out of that cave, he became a servant, once more. When in the cave, he thinks of his problems and he worries; but then, finally, he walks out and he goes to the Moabite king because he is concerned about his Mom and Dad. He hasn’t been concerned about anyone else, for a long time. And now, he is worried about Mom and Dad. And then, he hears about Keilah and he gets worried because of the Philistines. He decides he wants to go and help. David is back to his old self. He is thinking about serving and helping people, instead of thinking about himself. And when you get discouraged, it’s one of the best things you could do, also. Think, not only about your problems, but think about helping others.

Many years later, there will be a man, named Elijah, who will follow about in the same path, as David. Elijah, in I Kings, Chapter 18, will be on Mt. Carmel and he’ll have a great victory. Four Hundred fifty prophets of Baal will be destroyed. And it’s kind of like the victory David had against Goliath. Elijah, then, marched down the mountain and Queen Jezebel sends him a message. “By this time, tomorrow,” she says, “you will be dead!” And Elijah begins to run, as David ran. You finally find him saying, “Lord, take my life!” It’s a foolish prayer. But he is discouraged. So much he wants to die, so much he does stupid things, like David. The next thing you find is that Elijah goes in a cave. There, he felt sorry for himself, as David felt sorry for himself. Finally, the Lord comes to him and says, “Elijah, what are you doing in this cave?” And Elijah says, “Oh Lord, I am the only one, in all Israel, who is faithful to you and Jezebel wants to kill me.” And God answers, “You get up and you leave this cave. I’ve got 700 people who have not bowed their knees to Baal.” And Elijah goes back to his old job of being a prophet and a servant, just like David.

How many times have we said you can’t find happiness by trying to make yourself happy? And how many times have you heard that you can’t get encouragement just by trying to encourage yourself. But people try that all the time! They go out, take this trip and that trip and they buy this and buy that; but it brings no lasting peace or happiness. They need, instead, to listen to Jesus. And Jesus said, “Go out and make other people happy, then you will find happiness!” He said, “Encourage other people and you’ll get encouraged. You reap what you sow.” And finally, David learned the lesson. He crawled out of that cave and went back to serving other people, overcoming his depression!

III. Troubles build a man.

But I also want you to see this, this afternoon. When David goes back to his old self, Satan doesn’t stop trying. David begins by trying to be, once again, a leader. He goes back to Judea and he has that horrible news. He is told that all the people are killed in Nob and it’s his fault! And then, he saves the people of Keilah and hopes the people, there, will be on his side. But he is rejected. And time, after time, Satan is hammering on David. He goes to Ziph, hoping to find a place to live near his kin. And those people turn on him, also. They notify Saul to come and get him. But note, here, that difficulties are not without value. Although David is facing problem after problem, something good is happening. Don’t you understand that God is making, for himself, a king? And David is going to be the greatest king that this world has ever seen! And all these difficulties come; but David is going through these difficulties. Maybe it’s what James says. James says, “Consider it joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds because you know the trial will produce patience and perseverance.”

We have many students, in our audience, and all of them know what it is to take a test. In fact, I suspect all of us can remember taking tests. You know there are two primary reasons for a test. One reason is that the instructor wants to find out how strong the student is in a particular area. But a second reason for taking a test is that the instructor knows that the greatest learning experience, for the student, will probably be during the testing time. And so, all instructors give tests to help the students grow. And we have all of these problems coming to us, in life. Things happen to us, over and over again, that hurt. But in every problem, God is watching. He is looking on how strong you are and he is hoping you will learn. And David is no exception. Before too long, he’ll finally step up on his throne; but he still has to learn a few things and God is teaching him, here. David learns that discouragement is dangerous. He learns, here, that sometimes in despair, you can hurt innocent people. And you don’t have the right to do that. Then he learns that he’s got to concentrate on others, when he is low, because sitting in your sorrow will not help. The best things one can do is get out of his self pity and go out and serve other people again.


Now, you think about those lessons, this afternoon, because, maybe, one of them fits you. Maybe you need to understand why trials are in your life. Maybe you need to go back and be a servant again or maybe you need to understand that your behavior, in your despair, hurts others and that you’ve got no rights to do that. You consider your deeds, this afternoon and respond, if you need to, while we stand and sing!