Lessons from a Cave Dweller, Part 3

A second lesson we can learn from David when he was a cave dweller is:

Cave dwelling can be a good time for meditation and remembering what is most important in our lives.

While community is important, occasionally solitude is as equally important, for in solitude, we can hear God more clearly. Solitude is a way of clearing the noise of everyday life and listening intently to God. If you were used to being in meetings and activities all week long, now that those are canceled, use that time to reflect on God’s word. You might choose a favorite book of the Bible and just begin reading and marking God’s promises to you or what he says about you. Use this time as a time of prayer and reflection.

Cave dwelling is also a time of rest. My mother-in-law sent me something about the COVID-19 quarantine that she received from a friend last week. Here is an excerpt from it that fits this lesson:

Society: What about my plans ?

God: My plans for you are always better than your own. Don’t worry. I’m going to work this all out for your good.

Society: We’re not going to get anything done!

God: That’s the point. You know how you keep spinning your wheels—always working, moving, doing—but never feeling satisfied? I’ve given you permission to stop. I’ve cleared your calendars for you! Your worth isn’t tied to busyness or accomplishment. All you have to do is take care of each other.

Society: What does this all mean?

God: It means I’m in control. It means you are human, and I am God. It means I’ve given you a wonderful opportunity to be the light in a dark world. It means you are going to learn to rely on me.

Society: What are we supposed to do when we can’t leave our homes?

God: Rest. You are always so busy and overwhelmed, crying out to me weary and exhausted. Can’t you use a break from your fast-paced and over-scheduled lives? Go ahead and rest. Pray. Love your families. Be still and spend time with me.

In Psalm 57:1b, David says, “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” David understood the perfect place for rest: in the Lord. Notice that he was not attributing the cave as his refuge but instead it was placing himself under “the wings of the Lord.” This beautiful image reflects that of a mother bird shielding her chicks from dangerous predators and the elements. This also illustrates a closeness like no other because the mother bird is using herself to protect her chicks. God does that for us. And, as his chicks we can rest in his protection. This same image is also found in Psalms 17:8, 36:7, and 63:7, and Jesus used it once, too, in Matthew 23:37.

hen covering her chicks

Us this time of slowing down and solitude to rest in the Lord.

How will you use your new “downtime” (those times you would have been at an activity that is currently canceled)? What is one practical thing that you can do to grow closer to God? Some ideas: work through a Bible study that you haven’t done yet, set aside special prayer time for others, send cards to encourage others, etc. Share in the comments section what you chose to do! Let’s be accountable to each other.

Of special note: Even though this lesson is about solitude, community is equally important, and if you are feeling lonely and in need of community, some good practical ways to combine community and reflection on God’s word are phone calls to friends to say, “Hi,” pray together, and maybe even talk about a Bible study. If you are tech savvy, video call someone. Or, if you like paper, start a card ministry. After all, who doesn’t love to receive a note of encouragement in the mail?

 

 

Lessons from a Cave Dweller, Part 2

Our first lesson from David during his cave dwelling days recorded in Psalm 57 is:

God is with us always – no matter what the circumstance, whether we are inside or outside of the cave.

Throughout Psalm 57, we hear David crying out to God:

v. 1: “have mercy on me, O God”

v. 2: “I cry out to God Most High”

v. 3: “God sends his love and faithfulness”

v. 10: “For great is your love reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies”

David never indicates any time in this Psalm that he does not believe that God is with him. David trusted that God would hear him even when he was hunkered down in a cave and hiding from his enemies.

During this time when we cannot meet together in community for the sake of staying well and keeping others well, we can trust that God is with us and that he is in control. We are not alone. God is near us, even in lonely and uncertain times. If you are feeling lonely or afraid, grab hold of one of these promises that God is near, pray it daily, memorize it, and journal insights about it:

“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.”

Psalm 73:28

I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Psalm 16:8

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18

“You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth.”

Psalm 119:151

“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.”

Psalm 145:18

“Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off?”

Jeremiah 23:23

God is near us always, inside and outside of our cave. In the comments section, share your favorite promise. Why is it your favorite verse? Even though we can’t meet face to face right now, we can talk and encourage each other “virtually!”

Lessons from a Cave Dweller, Part 1

In my last post, I mentioned that I was taking a break from my blog for awhile and preparing to redesign it. I’m still in “taking a break” mode, but with the current COVID-19 situation, I wanted to share some thoughts with you that I recently wrote for my Sunday School class.

Following is the introduction for my reflection on Psalm 57.

I love a good adventure story! When I was a teenager and even a young adult, I’m not sure those words would have come from my mouth. Back then, I would have said, “I like classic fairytale romance!” The kind where Mr. Darcy wins Miss Bennet or Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester finally get to live happily ever after together. And while I’m still a huge fan of Cinderella-style stories, now I’m finding just how much I like reading stories of adventure on the high seas and survival on remote islands – stories like Treasure Island, Life of Pi, The Cay, and Robinson Crusoe.

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I read a short adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. It is an interesting story about how a man who is shipwrecked and the lone survivor on a remote island survives for 28 years until he is finally rescued. Even though Crusoe’s determination, creativity, and grateful attitude inspired me, what I found most appealing is that his story was inspired by a true survival story, that of Alexander Selkirk in 1704.

Most scholars believe that the real Robinson Crusoe was Alexander Selkirk because of the timing and similar details of the two men’s stories. Defoe would have had easy access to Selkirk’s story which was printed in the newspaper during Defoe’s lifetime. In addition, both Selkirk and the fictional Crusoe share name changes, abandonment on a remote island, and similar experiences with living in a cave and dealing with cats, rats, and goats (you’ll have to read the story to understand these references). Both men sang praises to God as they learned to live in isolation.

The short version of Selkirk’s story is that he was a skillful seaman who didn’t agree with the captain of the ship he was on. He then asked to be let off the boat, which the captain promptly ordered at a remote island off the coast of Chile. Selkirk was left on that island for nearly four-and-a-half years before he was rescued, at which time he could not even speak (luckily, he regained his speech and that is how his story could be recorded).

While he was on the island, he made his home in a cave; he learned to fish without a fishing pole, he became adept at raising and killing goats for food and clothing, he raised cats to protect him from rats, and he praised God with songs every day. He learned to be grateful for the peace and provisions God had provided him on this remote island. Selkirk, a man who lived adventure in cities like London and traveling the world on the high seas, learned many things from his life as a cave dweller on a remote island. He learned to worship God in tough circumstances, he learned about solitude, and he learned how to live as a lone survivor.

According to Marooned, a biography about Selkirk, at first, he regretted his rash decision to leave the ship. He describes how he anxiously stood on the shoreline every day for months just watching for sails to come his way, only to find none appear. But, his determination to survive propelled him forward and he made a life on the island. Interestingly, after he was rescued and back in England, he missed his quiet time on the island and actually carved a cave retreat to which he visited daily. It was his place where he could sing praises to God and rest in solitude.

In our present time, with Coronavirus COVID-19 sweeping around the world and the wise decision of people social distancing, it feels a bit like we are cave dwellers. But our caves are nicer than Selkirk’s! At least we have indoor plumbing, air conditioning and heat, kitchen appliances, and oh thank heavens a washer and dryer! But the isolating aspect of being a cave dweller can be difficult. However, I believe we can use this “cave dwelling” time to remember some important lessons.

Reflections on Psalm 57

In the Bible, David was a cave dweller during part of his life. In 1 Samuel 18:8-9, we read, “Saul was very angry: this refrain galled him. ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought. What more can he get but the kingdom? And from that time on, Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”

This jealousy grew so much that Saul wanted to kill David (1 Samuel 19:1). But thankfully for David he had a loyal friend in Jonathan and was warned about Saul’s plan, so he could flee to safety. One of the safe places he fled was to a cave in Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1). Another cave he dwelt in during his flight was in the Desert of En Gedi (1 Samuel 24:1-3). David was forced to be a cave dweller for the sake of safety, and we have insight to his thoughts during this time through his words in Psalm 57.

Since it is recorded that David dwelled in at least two caves, we can’t be sure to which cave Psalm 57 refers, but most scholars attribute it to the cave at Adullam.

Regardless of which location David was, we can learn four lessons from his thoughts and attitude described in his psalm.

Look for lesson 1 tomorrow!