David wrote some of his best psalms, worshipping the Lord with all his heart, while living deep in the belly of caves. Clearly, there were also times when he sat in the mouth of these grottos and pondered the majesty and grandeur of the firmament.
Obviously damp, dank caverns did not inspire his adoration. Exalting God must never be restricted to days when all is cheery and comfortable. The cave man who walks in the footsteps of David blesses the Lord at all times, His praise continually in his mouth… yes, even when fleeing a crazed and murderous foe, only to make your rocky bed with snakes, scorpions, and scoundrels.
Those same scoundrels, along with gangs of rejects and misfits (1 Samuel 22:1-2), could not have imagined that they were about to become the first in a long line of Mossad’s Sayeret Matkal, Israel’s special forces, the most feared on earth. Armed with slingshots (first generation Israeli Galil rifles), and ass jawbones (Gen 1 Lotar tactical knives), they sure got the job done. Seriously impressive!
Weapons are the hardware of warfare; but it’s the software of character that’s the true mettle of conquerors. Even the best training does not produce a man who will fight like Eleazar when his hand ‘stuck to the sword’ as he single-handedly defeated scores of Philistines in battle.
Dedication, submission, teamwork, fortitude, and courage are not addenda in a military handbook – they’re at its core. These are forged not in the classroom, but through the anvils of hard knocks and grit. They’re birthed in the heart of the tested.
Life lessons – those defining moments that stake exclusive claims upon our personalities – are deposited uniquely during cave encounters. Consider the hour when David had his cruel nemesis trapped. Having retreated to a cave as Saul’s 3,000-strong elite force pursued him, David snuck up behind the unsuspecting king as he entered the hollow to relieve himself.
Lesser men would have wielded daggers of anger and retribution against a man who had senselessly tried to spear him. David chose honour and forgiveness. Even clipping the skirt of Saul’s robe stuck in David’s craw.
It was not possible for any of the distressed, debt-ridden, and discontented ragtag recruits in David’s band to witness this supreme act of benevolence and not come under conviction and be changed. How could they find space in their spirits to hold grudges, justify bitterness, or harbour revenge when their captain had just raised the standard of a man so strikingly right before their eyes?
From the shamed perch of Calvary, he did not complain nor cast blame. Receiving no mercy, He extended mercy. Mocked, in return he blessed. Condemned, he spoke release to prisoners and captives everywhere and for all time.
An empty cave now stands as the climax of mankind’s tumultuous and rebellious story. It screams, “Mercy wins!” We’ve come to this cave like David’s fragmented fighters to Adullam’s chasm in the foothills of ancient Judah. And we’re witnesses that Jesus is the only One to have ever lived completely above reproach, forever the model of excellence, charity, and selflessness.
Now, it’s up to us to follow Him as David’s men fought at his side, not shunning the cross and tomb, but letting it do a work in us even as it worked in Christ.
‘It was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.’ Hebrews 2:10