A Message of Encouragement from Steve Carpenter
David is considered Israel's greatest king and Elijah, Israel's greatest prophet. Yet, both men found themselves in caves, running for their lives and fighting off incredible discouragement, depression and disillusionment in their own journey of faith. The good news is, neither of the men stayed in the cave.
For Elijah, he heard the Lord in the still small voice. The voice of the Lord wasn’t in the wind, the fire or the earthquake. The voice of the Lord was in the stillness, not the spectacular.
For David, he lifted his soul in worship and it was worship that lifted David out of the soul torment he was struggling through. David wrote both Psalm 57 and Psalm 142 while in the cave.
Following his victory over the prophets of Baal and the conclusion of the three year drought in 1 Kings 18, Elijah is now running for his life in 1 Kings 19. Isn’t is interesting how the greatest opposition sometimes comes after the greatest victories. Here is how it reads in 1 Kings 19:1-3, 9-12:
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time." And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.”
"And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" So he said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”
Elijah discovered the still small voice of the Lord in the cave. The result was specific instruction and clear direction for him to move forward in his kingdom assignment.
David escaped from Saul to the cave of Adullam.
1 Samuel 22:1-2
”David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.”
To be a captain means to be: chief, head, leader, principal; boss, number one, bigwig, big shot, big gun, big cheese, big kahuna, honcho, top dog, top banana.
In the cave, David became a captain over distress. Consider his previous experience with Saul. David was the anointed king without a throne. Saul, the rejected king, was on the throne and a distressing spirit was upon him.
It says in 1 Samuel 16: 23, “And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.”
David understood that the sound of worship is greater than struggle of distress. He wrote Psalm 57 in the cave. Here is what he wrote:
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by. I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me. He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah
God shall send forth His mercy and His truth. My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth. They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; they have dug a pit before me; into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. Selah
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth.
In the cave, David also became a captain over discontentment. Discontentment means dissatisfaction with one's circumstances. It’s about unhappiness, displeasure, bad feelings, resentment, envy; restlessness, unrest, uneasiness, unease, frustration, irritation, annoyance; having a chip on one's shoulder.
David dealt with the dissatisfaction of his circumstances by directing his focus in praise to God rather than “caving in” to his circumstances and present reality.
The cave of Adullam is about two miles away from the spot where David defeated Goliath. This cave once heard the deafening sounds of victory as a young shepherd boy confronted the challenge of the Philistines greatest champion, killing him with his own sword. Now the cave is contending with the sounds of disillusioned and discontented souls, yet David’s song of praise prevails. Psalm 149:6 exhorts, “Let the high praise of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.”
So, what are the lessons we can learn when kings and prophets are in caves?
We can learn the skill of silencing our own souls to hear the still small voice of the Lord. It is in this place alone where we receive the direction that we need and the courage to continue in our calling.
We can learn that worship is truly the ladder that lifts our souls into the radiant light of His beautiful countenance. It is in the place of His presence where all doubt, discontentment, discouragement and distress begin to dissolve away. David wrote in Psalm 16:11, “In His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Let me encourage you as 2018 comes to a close. Listen for His voice in the stillness and love Him with your voice in worship. 2019 is going to be amazing.
With love from Jerusalem,