Cave Man or Brave Man?
The other week I gave you all a cup and told you all you were like Nehemiah cupbearers to the king, Last week Brian reminded us of the need for simple faith just like . This week My words are so profound that we will need… toilet roll.
Ok So what do we know about David son of Jesse
Able with a slingshot
Part of a large family
Anointed to be King of Israel
A loyal friend to Jonathan
A loyal subject of Saul
A man with passion- several wives many children and one mistress
A poet and writer
An able warrior when required to be.
Secured the nation of Israel
Established a capital city in Jerusalem
All of this makes David a national hero a celebrity and often used by preachers and teachers as an example.
I will return to the character of David in comparison to Saul in a while
But I want to use one story in his life today that speaks to us about how David is just like you and me. It can be found in 1 Samuel 24 and yes the children are looking at this story as well today.
So we find David where?- In a cave.
David is in his early 30’s King Saul is on the throne but has been rejected by God and the prophet Samuel for his disobedience.
David has been successful and made a friend of Sauls son Jonathan, married Saul’s daughter and killed many of the nation’s enemies in battle. David is now Samuel the prophet’s chosen man.
All this makes Saul love David very much and want to give him his favourite teddy bear.
In the face of considerable opposition from Saul with people being killed all over the place. David runs to a place of safety down near the Dead Sea called En Gedi.
We know why David thought He should be in a cave, but we cannot be sure this was God’s idea. I suspect if it was God’s making the decisions David would be on the throne and Saul praying for God’s forgiveness- Both of them had not lived up to their destiny yet.
We will return to that issue in a minute
But something was about to change. Something happened in that cave. David’s hiding with his men.
You see Saul had spies- good ones who knew roughly where David was. So Saul and his guys had also gone down to En-Gedi, but it was a long march and Saul had had a big breakfast and not to put too fine a point on it he needed the loo. (This is where the loo roll comes in.)
There was no public loo in the En-Gedi desert- there might be now of course- but there wasn’t in 1050 BC So Saul looked around and spotted a cave- aah a good place to go and well you know what. So I suspect he took off his outer cloak and well found himself a spot to sit and look at a copy of the readers digest or do the Sunday Express Crossword.
David’s now in trouble they have to be very quiet in the back of that cave. But his men see an opportunity. You can imagine the whispered conversation.
It’s Saul in here –
what do you mean in here
He’s doin a poo,
what do you mean?
Do you want me to spell it out for you.
This is your opportunity-
You can take him, Kill him After all he’s done it would be the right thing to do,
God’s judgements on him we know that
So anyway David creeps up knife in hand to all intents and purposes as far as his men know he’s going to kill Saul.
But there in the cave as he’s doin the funny walk up the cave, trying not to kick over the dead sea scrolls. He has a moment- you know a moment it comes to him. I cannot do this.
Now don’t misunderstand he wasn’t a coward, but he was a man who knew the anointing of God in his life and in spite of all that had happened, He knew that Saul was still God’s anointed King.
He stands (or maybe crouches and makes a choice- the choice NOT to kill, not to cut across the will of God,
Right there in the cave God gives David the wisdom the faith and courage to do something amazing, which will make a huge difference. It is perhaps the bravest decision he has ever made.
It was at this point, He stopped being a cave man and became a brave man
He spares Saul’s life instead he cuts a bit off of his cloak, and moves back to see Saul leave.
I like to come back to the Cutting of the cloak in a minute too so we’ll put that next to why David was in the cave.
David Confronts Saul
Let’s actually read the confrontation bit cos it’s worth it-
Verse 8 And after that David came out of the hollow rock, and crying after Saul said, My lord the king. And when Saul gave a look back, David went down on his face and gave him honour. 9 And David said to Saul, Why do you give any attention to those who say that it is my desire to do you wrong? 10 Look! you have seen today how the Lord gave you up into my hands even now in the hollow of the rocks: and some would have had me put you to death, but I had pity on you: for I said, Never will my hand be lifted up against my lord, who has been marked with the holy oil. 11 And see, my father, see the skirt of your robe in my hand: for the fact that I took off the skirt of your robe and did not put you to death is witness that I have no evil purpose, and I have done you no wrong, though you are waiting for my life to take it. 12 May the Lord be judge between me and you, and may the Lord give me my rights against you, but my hand will never be lifted up against you. 13 There is an old saying, From the evil-doer comes evil: but my hand will never be lifted up against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? for whom are you searching? for a dead dog, an insect. 15 So let the Lord be judge, and give a decision between me and you, and see and give support to my cause, and keep me from falling into your hands. 16 Now when David had said these words to Saul, Saul said, Is this your voice, David, my son? And Saul was overcome with weeping. 17 And he said to David, You are right and I am wrong: for you have given me back good, but I have given you evil. 18 And you have made clear to me how good you have been to me today: because, when the Lord gave me up into your hands, you did not put me to death. 19 If a man comes across his hater, will he let him get away safe? so may you be rewarded by the Lord for what you have done for me today. 20 And now I am certain that you will be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be made strong under your authority. 21 So give me your oath by the Lord that you will not put an end to my seed after me or let my name be cut off from my father's family. 22 And David gave Saul his oath. And Saul went back to his house; but David and his men went up to their safe place
He begins by giving honour to the very man who was trying to kill him.
Then he swears his loyalty and demonstrates it by showing the piece of robe.
And then plays his trump card by calling on Saul to allow God to be judge between them.
This then is the moment when Saul is moved to acknowledge three things
1. Recognised his own fault
2. Recognised that David was his son- (a) as monarch and (b) as father in law
3. Recognised his legitimate claim on the throne sufficient to plead with David that he spares his family from death when he come to the throne- A promise he keeps
David is inspired later in life to write at least two of his Psalms in memory of what he learned from this occasion. Psalm 57
5 Soar high in the skies, O God! Cover the whole earth with your glory! 6 They booby trapped my path; I thought I was dead and done for. They dug a mantrap to catch me, and fell in headlong themselves. 7 I'm ready, God, so ready, ready from head to toe, Ready to sing, ready to raise a tune: 8 "Wake up, soul! Wake up, harp! wake up, lute! Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!" 9 I'm thanking you, God, out loud in the streets, singing your praises in town and country. 10 The deeper your love, the higher it goes; every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness. 11 Soar high in the skies, O God! Cover the whole earth with your glory!
I want to return to those three bits that I believe God wants to impress upon us
1.What was the difference between Saul & David
If you look at the earlier chapters of 1 Samuel you will see that Saul has a clear desire vto serve God, he is a skilled warrior, a strong leader, and anointed king.
On the surface you might say they were similar, but at his core there is something missing in Saul that is in David from his earliest years- a genuine love for God- We see David as a worshipper something Saul could not understand. He did what he thought was best but he had no relationship with God. David was a man after God’s own heart and that is what I long to be. Not just doing the right things but being a follower of Christ.
2. So what was the second thing Oh yes the cave. Men are particularly good at retreating in to caves. Not physical caves but emotional and spiritual ones. We hide only peeping our head out when we think its safe and when no demands are going to be made on us. Emotional caves shutting ourselves off from others can feel warm and cosy but they echo so every time you speak about your woes and problems they whirl around in your head like the echo in a cave. The enemy will lay siege on you in the cave your only good course is to do what is right and stand up and face the challenges in the light. God will meet you in that moment.
3 The third element to consider is that cut cloak. The significance of this only struck me when I looked back and saw in Chapter 15 the following incident
From verse 26 we see Samuel rejecting Saul because of his disobedience.
“But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!”
As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore.
Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you.”- ie David
Saul was told that he had had the kingdom ripped from him because he had tried to seize the kingdom in his own way- literally holding on to the prophet to stop him from leaving
There is an echo in the cave as David to his own horror cuts a piece of the cloak of the Lord’s anointed coming within a hairs breath of attempting to seize the kingdom before his time was right and in a way that is not God’s will for him.
Likewise God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us we cannot buy it or manufacture it. We cannot pretend. We need to seek it with all our heart and lay everything aside to pursue it – The pearl of great price. God’s will for my life -His kingdom rule in my life.
There are three particular settings in the bible where someone finds themselves in a cave,
Elijah, David, and Jesus- In each case there is a revelation from God given for them and for us.
What revelation do you see in these three caves?
But now a final question for us all Are you like Saul just trying to get through life by doing the right things without any real relationship with God. If you are You don’t need to stay that way God wants to be your friend, and though His son Jesus has made a way possible for you to be a friend of God.
We are going to play a song now and I would like you just to listen as I sing it and then I am going to pray a prayerthat asks God to forgive you for keeping him at arms length either deliberately or just by the mistakes you have made that we call sin. Join with me in an amen at the end.