David leaves Gath and needs another place to hide. He chooses the Cave of Adullam. This cave was a LOT closer to David’s home and a great place to gather a large group.
I hope you watched the video at the beginning of this entry. I found it interesting and thought you might too. It shows the cave David hid in today. It has obviously changed a bit since David’s visit but it was fun to look at.
In this hiding spot David will begin gathering a following. People that are in need flock to him. “Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him” (verse 2a). These people will become David’s own army. He was a commander in Saul’s army but these people serve David, NOT Saul. They are on the run from him as much as David is.
I’m curious how the people knew he was hiding in the caves. Someone must have spotted him and passed the word. It had to be someone who was disenchanted with Saul or they would have turned David in instead of rallying support for him. In The Davidic Chronicles by Greg Baker they have David’s family going into hiding in Bethlehem when Saul searches for David and the town conspiring to keep them safe. This put the town on the look-out for David’s welfare too. I do not doubt it happened that way. David was the ‘local boy’ who made good. Let’s join our story and see where the Spirit takes us today.
♥ ♦ ♥
David is making his way back into Israel. He has to pass through the same valley of Elah again. This is the same valley he was gazing towards when he made his ill-conceived plan to seek safety in Gath. It is the same valley he had to pass through to get to Gath. And it is the same valley where he faced Goliath. David knows this valley well. He should, as he is also a shepherd from this area.
When walking through the valley David is thinking back over his past. He was once content to be a shepherd. Life was SO much simpler back then. It wasn’t without its risks and its periods of boredom, like any other job. But it was safer than being hunted by the king for things you didn’t do!
David was feeling frustrated and alone as he looked for a good hiding place. While thinking over his options David remembered a large cave he used to play in as a young boy. It would offer him shelter, a safe vantage point and closer proximity to his home town. Adullam was also obscure enough that Saul probably hadn’t heard of it.
Night was beginning to set in when David reached the cave. He was tired, hungry and cold. He had nothing but the clothes on his back. The bread he picked up at Nob was LONG gone. The sword of Goliath was taken at Gath. He had no purse or coins to put in one. He did have an outer garment that Jonathan had provided him with for the nights of waiting for an answer regarding Saul. This is his only ‘creature comfort’ and it will be VERY welcome while hiding in the cave of Adullam.
To care for his hunger David helps himself to some figs from a nearby tree and some berries that grow wild in the area. Once his meager meal is done he gathers wood for a fire and rocks suitable for making a spark to ignite it. David learned well the lessons of survival from his youth and honed those skills to a find point while serving in Saul’s army. He will at least have a fire to keep wild animals away and warm himself by. He will build his fire inside the cave to prevent him from giving away his position while also allowing him to see if there are any animals currently using the cave as their home.
Finally, all is secure and in order. David lies down to sleep. He has no soft mat to lie on nor pillow for his head but his sleep is sweet. He is safe once again in the country of his birth. And he knows the Lord is watching over him.
When morning breaks David opens his eyes to a surprise. Someone is seated beside the place is fire burned in the night. It is a young man close to David’s age. He is smiling as he silently watches David. David sits up quickly, not sure what to make of his visitor.
“Good morning” greets the visitor.
“Good morning to you also” replies David.
The young man produces a pouch from behind him. He opens it and offers David some of the bread it contains.
“Thank you for your kindness” says David. “May I ask how you found me and what your intentions are?”
“I am Liam. I am a shepherd and was pasturing my flock nearby. I observed your arrival last evening. Have no fear. I know who you are and am a friend. Saul will not learn of your presence from me but someone else has already been told; your family.”
“My family knows I am here? Are they safe? Has Saul pressured them to find me?”
“They are safe. They will be arriving later today. Saul has indeed made their lives difficult in trying to find you but the people of Bethlehem have helped hide them from his men.”
“Why are they coming here? Are they in danger where they are?”
“There is always danger but they want to help you. They want to be your support during this difficult time.”
David’s eyes mist over as he thinks of his parents. They are in their declining years yet they seek to offer him their support. He should be the one caring for them at this point, not the other way around.
David and Liam share the meal Liam so generously provided and swap stories of their days as shepherds. They pass the morning in this manner and thoroughly enjoy one another’s company. It has been a while since David simply sat and visited with a friend.
By midday people begin arriving in groups of two and three at a time. They traveled thusly so as not to attract suspicion. David’s father and eldest brother are the first to arrive. David greets both with a strong embrace. A few days ago he didn’t know if he would ever see them again and now here they are, in his hiding place.
“David my son” says Jesse and he holds his son’s face in between his wrinkled hands. These hands hold so many memories for David. Times of discipline. Times of tender touches. Times of guiding his own through some new task. David is most grateful for the love found in his father’s hands.
After greetings are completed Jesse gets down to business. “There are many people in Judah who have become disillusioned by Saul’s behavior. He has become cruel in his treatment of those who do not agree with him, especially when it comes to you. If anyone questions his intentions towards Israel’s great hero he finds a way for them to become bereft of property and indebted to him. These men wish to join you and see the Lord’s will done in your life.”
“I would be honored to have their help and loyalty. They must know though that I will NOT go against the king. I will not place my life in his hands but neither will I seek his life. He is the Lord’s anointed and I will not raise my hand against the one so chosen by God.”
“Well said my son. This will be told to any who wish to join us.”
By evening about 50 people had joined David in the Cave of Adullam. They brought with them supplies that would be needed to sustain them including whatever they had on hand as weapons. David was even supplied with another sling and a sword which was brought by his brother from Saul’s own armory. He had kept his when he left Saul’s service and he gladly surrendered it to David as a token of his loyalty.
People continued to trickle in in groups of five or fewer for many days. David welcomed family, old friends, former comrades and new acquaintances who felt safe in David’s keeping. As the group grew so did David’s sense of responsibility for these people. Initially he was the one receiving aid. Now he was the one who would be charged with providing it.
David began to organize the men into companies as they arrived. He enlisted the help of his brothers and cousins in assessing the skills and the best use of the arrivals. His aim was to create a fighting force strong enough to protect the women and children who were among them and to offer their services to others in need. This would give their group a means of support and be a buffer between raiding parties from other lands and the people of Israel.
Within a week the number of people who came to David was about four hundred men, not including women and children. Their numbers had outgrown the Cave of Adullam. They needed to find another place to stay. This would be a difficult task. They needed somewhere large enough to accommodate their numbers, be defensible in the event of attack or discovery, have available sources of food and water, and be remote enough that Saul’s forces would not notice their passage to it.
David also realized that this would mean traveling a great distance on foot. He was concerned about his parents. They were well on in years and would have difficulty making such a journey. As David was on the run from Saul, he had no idea how many of these journeys would be required of him and those who accompanied him. He could not ask his parents to commit to such a life. But it was also not safe for them to return to Bethlehem. Saul was certain to find out about the people coming to David and that his family was among them. David needed somewhere safe for his parents to remain until the Lord had completed His work.
David had another idea similar to the one he had about Gath. He prayed this one would be much more successful. David’s great grandmother was from Moab. He prayed that he could find safety for his parents among the people of Moab as they were related. They could claim kinship and ask for protection while he turned his attention to dealing with those that followed him and the people of Israel.
David discussed his plan with his brothers and his parents. It was agreed that this plan was sound. David was grateful to have others to weigh such matters with. The counsel of many, within reason, brought with it wisdom.
Two days later David and his band set off for Moab. There was a city in the southern region of Moab that was deserted that they intended to settle in for a time. It was within the borders of Moab but had been broken down during a previous battle. They could expect to reach it in two weeks travel with the company they had.
David led his band south before heading east. He wanted distance between him and Saul as fast as possible so he pushed the group hard during the first few days. As they had no water transportation they would have to go around the Salt Sea to reach Moab. This portion of their journey was difficult as then moved from a higher elevation and more abundant water to desert like conditions before ascending again in Moab.
The days quickly took on a routine. As soon as it was light people would begin the tasks of the day. The women would prepare a meal to break the night’s fast while the men packed the tents and bedding used the night before. Once the meal was consumed the camp would head out. Two to three scouts preceded the group to find the most accessible path. The women and children walked in the middle with men on both flanks. The herds followed behind the group with men armed for conflict bringing up the rear. At midday a rest break was called. This allowed time for a quick meal. By late afternoon the scouts would return to the group and direct it to an appropriate site to make camp for the night. The men would make camp and tend to the animals while the women prepared the evening meal and tended to the children. Stories and relaxed conversations followed the evening meal for most. Sentries were posted for night watch in two hour shifts so none would be too exhausted for the next day’s march. The Sabbath was the only day that differed. On this day the camp stayed in place until the following morning. They were in a hurry to get to their destination but NOT is so much of a hurry that they would tempt the Lord by ignoring His commandments.
By the time the company reached Moab everyone was ready for a break from their daily routine. It was almost a joy to work on clearing away the rubble and making the small city defensible again. Although it was hard work it spoke of settling down, at least for a time.
David and his band did not go unnoticed by the inhabitants of Moab. They were confronted by the king and asked their intentions. The king of Moab did NOT take kindly to Israelites taking over his territory even if his people weren’t currently using it.
David assured him that their stay was temporary before he posed his request concerning his parents.
“I am David, son of Jesse. We come to Moab under the right of kinship. Ruth the Moabite was grandmother to my father. She traveled to Israel with her mother-in-law Naomi. Do you know of her story?”
“We do. She was spoken of highly for her devotion to Naomi.”
“I seek protection for her grandson, my father, and his wife. They are in danger from the king of Israel through no act of their own. I ask that they may remain with you until that danger passes. I and my company will depart if you so require, but may we be allowed a short time of refreshing after our long journey first. We swear we will take not even water without rendering compensation.”
“Your parents are welcome under my protection as kin of Ruth. As for your company, you may have three days’ rest. You will journey no farther than the boundaries of this city and take nothing from it with you when you depart. That is the best I can do for you. We have not the resources to sustain a group of your number.”
“It will be as you command. Thank you for watching over my parents. I will send for them once the danger is passed.”
David’s parents leave with the contingent from Moab and David returns to tell his people the king’s decision. He wishes they could have remained longer but he is not willing to risk battle with Moab over the matter.
Three days later David and his group leave Moab as promised. The scouts have found a defensible stronghold on the border of Israel and Moab. It offers just what David is looking for. With his parents safe he can now look to the business of Israel.
David and his group remain in this stronghold in unclaimed territory for four months. They have served as a buffer against raiding parties from Amalek. One day the prophet Gad, who had joined David’s band early on, came to him with a word from the Lord.
“Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah” (verse 5a).
David sent word throughout the camp that they would leave the next day. He would obey the Lord. Scouts were sent out into the land of Judah and a site in the forest of Hereth for their next sojourn.
(to be continued)
♥ ♦ ♥
David is taking on responsibility for more than just his life. He is commander of his own army and lord over the people who follow him. His decisions matter much more now that they direct the lives of so many. He is also training for the role God has called him to. He is both comforter and comforted with this group. He is no longer alone.
Father God, thank You for sending people into David’s life and my life. You know exactly who to send and when. Just because You send them doesn’t mean that the relationship will be perfect or even easy. Some of the strongest relationships are forged in conflicts. Not in continual conflict and not always directed at one another but in dealing with the adversities inherent in any relationship. Thank You for ‘sharpening’ me and molding me into the servant You designed me to be. I have NO IDEA what that finished product will look like but I’m willing to walk the path it takes; just PLEASE be gentle with me.