Out of the Cave
Psalm 77: “I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and He gave ear unto me…”
This psalm tells the story of David and how he got out of the cave. As Professor James G. Murphy of Belfast says in his commentary, “The psalm was most probably composed on some critical emergency in the eventful life of David. The hiding of David in the cave of Adullam has been suggested by different writers.”
It is the devil’s peculiar joy to get us into a hole, and it is God’s particular delight to get us out of it. The man or the woman who has learned how to get hold of God and get out of a hole, out of a predicament, out of a dark place, has found the greatest joy in the world, for this reason: he has found reality in God. This is the greatest joy in the world, to lay hold on a promise of God and feel the pull of God on the other end that lifts you out. Oh, it is delightful.
A Delightful Sensation
A group of men were standing around and talking about a “delightful sensation,” and a man from the coal mines said to them: “You fellows don’t know what a delightful sensation is.”
He said, “I was in a coal mine when there was an explosion and a cave-in and I was left alone in a large cavern. I reached around for anything that I could get with which to make a signal. I was in a room where there was no pipe, so I couldn’t tap the pipe. There was quite a bit of air in the room, and I groped around probably for twelve hours trying to get hold of something, but I couldn’t find a thing.
“Finally,” he said, “there slipped into my hand a wire, and all of a sudden it dawned upon me that this wire ran into the elevator shaft. I began to pull the wire—and then the awfullest feeling in the world came over me, because when I pulled, the wire came my way. I thought the men might be at rescue work in the shaft, but when the wire came my way I utterly lost hope. I just laid down and cried. I was discouraged, I was worn out.”
Always Pull Again
“Something within me made me pull at the wire again, and when I pulled it again, some one at the other end just pulled it out of my hands. They didn’t hear me yell up there, but I want to tell you I yelled, feet and head and body and everything else, I yelled. I pulled again—they pulled back. I tell you it was just a joy to pull and pull and feel them at the other end. They knew where I was, just by the wire, and before long they had a hole through the excavation, and I was out, in my wife’s arms, and my children climbing all over me.”
Friend, there is no joy like the joy of laying hold of God’s promise and feel God tug at the other end. God wants to get us out of the holes and caves of life, and the devil wants to get us in.
David Chosen of God
God had picked David out, wonderfully anointed him, and told him what his life work was to be; now he found himself pursued, haunted, hunted by his great enemy, Saul, chased into a cave. The old cave life was hard on David. He could picture his enemy on the throne and it made the cave even worse. He cried out despondently: “I am sick of this old cave; I am sick of myself; I’m sick of the crowd that’s with me.”
Poor troubled fellow, with his hair knotted up, his clothes dirty, needing a bath and something to eat; sick of this old cave. He was so sick of it that the cave got on the inside of him. There are times when you can throw off your circumstances, and these times are always if they are only on you; but if you allow them to get in you they will throw you down. The trouble was not only that David was in the cave, but the cave was in him.
It is not an awful thing to be in the world, but when the world is in you, then real trouble starts. A ship may sail well and be in the water, but oh the trouble when the water comes into the ship!
Has God Forgotten?
The cave pressed upon David until he began to feel God had gone clear back on him. “Has He forgotten to be merciful? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?” he cries out in anguish.
“Did you ever have any experiences with the Lord, David?”
“Yes, but I don’t believe I will ever have them again; I don’t believe there is any hope. Life’s so small in the cave. God seems far away.”
And David started out to be despondent and discouraged, as so many Christians are these days. I find so many folks who are oppressed of the devil; the devil seems to get his hands on them and wears them out and oppresses them; tries to get circumstances to get inside of their souls, and let prayer stop and faith leak out, and their tongues begin to talk of circumstances instead of God and His rich promises.
In Spite of Circumstances
And God says, “I want to teach you how to trust me in spite of circumstances and in spite of disappointment, and in spite of the things ‘round about you.” He had to teach David that, or David would never have been able to shout in the Psalms as he did. David shouts later because he has something to shout about; he has a glad song in his heart later because he has gone through something with God.
A Splendid Warning
So in this 77th Psalm, David starts out with a warning; shows us what a mistake he made. He says, “I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.”
If you commence to complain when you get in a hard place, you are patting the devil on the back. The minute you begin to murmur against God, you jump clear over onto the devil’s side and boost his game. The minute you begin to say, “Other people have it pretty good, but I haven’t,” you are right over where the devil can fill you with purple ink; you will be overwhelmed; there won’t be a thing you can get hold of; you will be absolutely despondent.
Why? Because the minute a man begins to complain against a God who is for him, begins to complain about a God who loves him so much that He sent Jesus Christ into the world to die for him and beat the devil and save him in spite of the fact that he was a rebel and an alien from God, is manufacturing clouds to shut out the sun. This loving God is willing to lift him up and give him a place as the very bride of Christ, and if he complains against Him there is no more light in the world. The saddest mistake a man or woman can make is to complain against God when they get into trouble—to say, “God has forsaken me!”
Change Your Cry
Change your cry. Say, “My, but it is dark, but by God’s grace I will reach my puny hand up through the clouds and touch the hand of Jesus, for His hand is stretched out to me. Say, “If God be for me, who can be against me?” When you believe it, you are taking sides against the devil with God; and the man who will say, “I know God is true, whether every man is a liar and everything has gone to pieces, I know God is faithful”; and whether you feel it or not, it will not be long before you feel a tug at the other end of the rope and the first thing you know you will be above the clouds and sailing out. David found the truth and by the Holy Ghost sent it down for our help. So let us not make the mistake.
Remember, he says: “I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed.” Will you take the first step and stop your complaining?
First Get a Foothold
Take men today who are philosophizing, writing books against God; they have no foothold; forever they seek one. You will find they are like a heavily burdened traveler on a mountain trail that is slippery and frozen; their very doubt and complaint freezes the pathways, there is no place for their feet. When you complain against the best Friend, the tender, merciful God, the ruler of the universe, there isn’t a place in the world for you to put your foot.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”—Hebrews 11:6.
Learn to keep still, to keep your mouth shut. God himself lets the clouds blow around, but the clouds will even blow over after a while if you will just learn to keep still. God says the man that waits on the Lord “shall exchange his strength.” I have prayed many a time when it seemed that the clouds were so thick you couldn’t pray through them, but you can do as some of you may have done if you were ever lost in a dust storm, a stand storm on the prairie: duck your head and hold on until the wind doesn’t blow so hard.
Oh how God has again and again in His word called our attention to His great ability to fight for us, if we but learn how to take our hands off and trust and be still—not “watchful waiting,” but an active trust in stillness. Hear His reassuring words in 2 Chronicles 20:17:
“Ye shall not need to fight in this battle; set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem; fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord will be with you.”
So much of our trouble comes because of our tongues; we make so many statements against God. We complain of circumstances, we talk about people so that it takes months after we get right to straighten up all we said before. When we get into trouble it seems to be part of the plan of humanity to spread it around, go and load it on somebody else. We go to people; we try to lay our burdens somewhere else instead of waiting before God. God says the man that waits on Him “shall mount up on wings as eagles.” And thank God, it is true. Wait on God, and God will show Himself.
David’s First Step Up
David saw his mistake of complaining, and as soon as he saw it he began to talk in a different kind of language. “I have considered the days of old.” He leaves his feelings and runs back, oh away back as far as he can, to facts, facts.
Friend, that is a mighty good thing to do, to go back as far as you can go back with God in your memory or knowledge, and then just let God trail you along, showing you facts.
I remember my grandfather, when I was a boy, asking me to sit down and sing to him:
“I saw a wayworn traveler,
In tattered garments clad,
And struggling up the mountain,
It seemed that he was sad.”
He made me sing all the verses in his little old hymn book, a little old square affair, well used; grandmother had put five different covers of calico on the back of it. He’d sit back all ready and say, “Sing it, son.” I loved the chorus part, then: “Palms of victory, crowns of glory,” but I remember he loved a certain verse best:
“Then casting his eyes backward
O’er the path which he had trod,
He shouted loud Hosannas
And praises unto God.”
I remember as I sang that part I saw the tears running out of his big blue eyes, and he clapped his hands together, and said, “Glory to God! Glory to God!” I will never forget it. And then he said to me this: “Some day, when you are older, you will get to a place where it seems like God has forsaken you, but son, if you ever do, just sit still a minute and look to the time when God first touched your life. It may be slippery then, but you will shout as you look back.” There he was, in the last years of his life, but he could look back and see all the way God had led him, and shout.
So David says, “I began to get out of the hold that way. I began to look back to the old days, look back way down there where God called me, and then my soul began to be encouraged. And I said, ‘This is my infirmity;”—in other words, “I am a fool.” It’s a nice thing, you know, to call a head that won’t work right “infirm,” but it is a better thing to call it a fool.
“Lord, I am a fool, sitting here complaining against the very God who has been working for me all my life; I am a fool. Lord my curls are all matted, my poor old clothes are all twisted, I am sick of the old cave, but Lord, it is my infirmity and my foolishness.”
David’s Second Step
Now David takes another upward step: “I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
“What do you mean, David?”
“Why,” he says, “I will remember the times in my life when I felt God’s hand, that hand of strength, that grip in my life. I will go back and remember those times.”
“All right, David start ahead. Let’s see you do it.”
“Oh,” he says, “I am standing here, Lord, an older man now, but I remember the day when a man walked into the field while I was herding sheep as a little boy, and somebody cried out ‘David!’ Just the way they called it,” he said, “my heart turned over; I had been talking with God. ‘David!’ they cried, and I got up from the ground and said, ‘What do you want?’
“‘There is a man here, Samuel, come to your father’s house to look all the boys over, and he wants to look you over.’
“I fixed my little red head the best I could, and went to the house and there were all the boys lined up. There was my big brother at the head, and he said ‘What in the world do you want with that little scrap? What in the world do you want him for?’
“I remember Samuel, a godly man, turned to me and said: ‘The Lord says: “Arise, anoint him, for this is he’”; and there, while the boys were looking, he took oil and poured it on my head and anointed me, and the Spirit of God was upon me, from that day.”
Get a Fresh Start
Oh, friends, go back to the time when God pulled you away from the crowd and separated you unto Himself: the days “of the right hand of the Most High.”
David said, “I will go back to that time of the right hand of God, when Samuel came to our house—came out, anointed me king. I may be on the outside this afternoon, hiding in this old cave, hunted by Saul and persecuted by the devil, but thank God, Samuel anointed me as king, and whether I feel like it or not, I am going to be a king!”
Friend, when Jesus has saved you, and you are discouraged, say: “Whether I feel like it or not, though I may feel down and discouraged, Jesus saved me one day, and I am the child of a King, and I am going to glory, thank God! My poor body may not feel like it, but bless God, one of these days through the open portals of heaven I will sweep in and sit down with Jesus Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Glory to God!”
Friend, you will soon get out of the cave. You will have a shout after a while. Your very skin will begin to change. Your bones will begin to wax well again.
A Real Lion
Then David said: “That isn’t all, old devil; take some more. Listen: I remember a few days after that, being with my sheep, and a lion came along; and I was a poor little frail fellow, but it was my business to take care of those sheep. And when that lion came along, God just stirred me on the inside and said, ‘David, grab him.’”
“But Lord, I am such a little fellow.”
“And something gave me nerve enough to grab the lion and I broke his jaw. I don’t know how I did it, but something came into me that day, and I slew the lion.”
A Real Bear
“And I remember the day the bear came up, and I slew him the same way, and my, I was scared when I saw him there dead. But I looked up, and said, ‘God, you did it.’ Yes, sir, I am going to remember the days of old. I may have old matted hair now, and Saul on the throne, but God is going to make good some day; He didn’t bring me all this way for nothing.”
A Real Giant
And then he said, “Yes, I remember something else, old devil; that day I went down to the army, to carry some food to my brothers, and they were looking for somebody to kill that old giant. I went up to Saul, and he says, ‘What do you want to go out and fight that giant for?’ I felt it again—that same spirit just boiling in me.
“Saul said to me: ‘Have you got any medals?’
“Sure, I have.”
“‘How do you know you can kill him?’
“I have killed my lion and my bear, and sure as you live, I can kill that old giant. ‘The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine’”—1 Samuel 17:37.
“And Saul says, ‘You better put my armour on you,’ and he tried to put his armour on me, but I threw it off, and took God, and my little sling, and threw it around my head, and I said, ‘I may miss, but God can’t miss—let her go!’ Round my head it went, and it wiggled around, but God took hold of it and shot it straight at the giant, hitting him square between the eyes.”
“I came back with his old head dangling, and said to Saul: ‘Here I am.’
“And Saul says, ‘Who are you, you poor little fellow?’
“ I am the son of Jesse; that’s all I am,’ I answered.”
It didn’t take David long to show the first essential of a servant of God. It took just one thought, and he took the lowest place: just “the son of Jesse.”
“I am the son of Jesse.” Yes, David had real humility in him. Slew a giant by the power of God, then walked up in front of the king, the great giant’s head dangling from his hand, the whole army in consternation and admiration and envy, but David asks for no praise. Most of us would have thrown out our chests and said: “Who am I? I’m the fellow who just killed that giant!” But no, David says: “I am the son of Jesse—just a little fellow that came from the sheep.”
Praise God for the power of God, but bless God for the humility that comes of God and gives God the glory for the whole business.
See How God Freed You
David said: “I will remember the right hand of God.” David is getting out of the cave, as sure as you live. And you will get out of the cave if you go back there and see how God freed you, gave you power over a habit that used to get you down. Oh, when I think of it today, I could go through the skylight shouting the praises of God fro deliverance from the hand of the lion and the bear that used to live in my old breast. You may make fun of preaching a life of victory, but I’ll have to shout the praises of Jesus Christ who has delivered me from the lion and the bear that lived in this breast.
David’s Third Step
In the next place, David said: “I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember thy wonders of old.”
So he goes back and recalls the time when God took Abraham, and said to him: “Abraham, come across the brook, walk through the length and the breadth of this land and I’ll give you all you can see, forever.” He recalls the time God brought Isaac into the world, miraculously, and he recalls the time when God promised Abraham his children, when he did not even have a son, and then told him they should be like the sands of the sea for number, and should come out of Egypt after they had been in bondage. He recalls the works of Moses, the plagues of Egypt, and sees Moses stand and stretch out his hand over the sea, and speak in the name of God—and the waters divided themselves and the very people of God from whom David himself had crossed the Red Sea and come into Canaan Land. He could take the dirt from beneath his feet and say: “Here I am, hiding in the very land God has given to my father.”
A Holy Hush
Surely there must have come over him the hush of the Holy Ghost, and the shoes began to come off his feet, and he got down and began to praise God. “The very dirt I am on belongs to God,” he must have cried out. “It has been purchased by the power of God. The very cave I have been in is the sanctuary of God. This is Canaan Land where I am. Saul may be on the throne now, but David shall be on the throne. Out of David shall come the very Christ of God and sit on the throne of the whole world—forever!”
Sees a Coming King
David not only began to look at Canaan Land, but he began to lift his eyes up to God, and maybe it was in this dark hour that God spoke to him of the mighty things to come, when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would sit on his throne, as Peter says in his sermon at Pentecost:
“Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne” (Acts 2:29-30).
Out of the cave—oh, he got a vision of the coming of Jesus Christ into this world as King of kings and Lord of lords, and praise God, the old cave became a palace—“and prisons will palaces prove, if Jesus will dwell with me there.” God came down to meet him in the cave—in the cave—and he believed himself in truth a king, every inch a king, a son of God and the one through whom Jesus was to come, himself the possessor of the thrown which Jesus Christ should come and reign forever.
And he lifted up his hands to God and began to praise God: “Why, Lord, you led Moses and Aaron, you took them and led the children forth as a shepherd would lead his sheep, and I am safe, I am perfectly safe. God has his plan made, and I shall not fail. All that He has promised He will do.”
He began to pull at his old garments, straighten them out, and the men began to say, “David, what’s the matter?”
“You needn’t worry about me any longer,” cries David. “I don’t care if I am dirty. Glory to God, I am a king.”
The Cave Crowd
And the poor old bunch that David had gathered around him began to kneel and swear their allegiance to him.
“And every one that was in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him: and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.”—1 Samuel 22:2
He turns to this peculiar crowd and says, “You’re a dirty looking crowd now, you look like has-beens now, but wait until I am king. We are a bunch of forlorn and forsaken looking folks now, but God is going to take me out of this cave and put me on the throne, and I will remember all of you when I come in.”
Yes, and he did what he promised to do: made them generals and rulers of the land; and when Jesus comes to sit on David’s throne He will do the very same thing. Men who were drunks, women who were harlots, despised and rejected ones, down-and-out, who has been cleansed in His blood, will rule and reign with Him. Hallelujah!
Oh, friends, get out of the cave this morning! Jesus is coming back, and when He does the crowd that is being made fun of here, the poor of the earth, the despised, the rejected, the turned-aside, will come into their full inheritance. Jesus says, “Keep faithful, and never forget that I am King of kings and Lord of lords.” Yes, He is coming back again. Many think of Jesus now just as the lowly one of Nazareth. He is only a man to the world; but to us—oh, beloved, we, as Paul says, are “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
It may look dark, war is all around you, the cave and the darkness, but keep faithful. Caves and all they mean will soon be a thing of the past. By Thy grace we will wait for Thee, O King of kings, from glory this morning! Friends, He is coming soon, glory to God and we will be caught up to meet Him, and later come back to this old Earth to reign with Him.
“Though the cave has held you captive,
Jesus still is near,
He is true to every promise,
Cheer, my comrades, cheer.
Hold the fort, for I am coming,
Jesus signals still,
Wave the answer back to heaven,
By Thy grace we will!”