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The Cave of Adullam

David runs for his life. Death follows fast on his heels. In mad jealously, King Saul wants to take the head of the warrior who took the head of Goliath. Doeg the Edomite slays 70 priests in pursuit of this forsaken son.

And so David runs.

He runs to the Cave of Adullam. He runs to safety, to a fortress, to a tomb. From this cave he waits and waits and waits to face death.

David is not alone in the cave.

And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.
(1 Samuel 22:2 ESV)

The cave is a fortress of the forsaken. In the cold dark place of death they gather.

They are in distress, pressed in from all sides, and crushed under the weight of problems, threats and struggles.

They are in debt, emptied with nothing left to give.

They are bitter in soul, waiting to die.

The cave is a tomb for those who’ve lost hope and can no longer see tomorrow.

David is not alone in the cave.

Job sits in the dark, struggling to understand. His world tremors under one disaster after another. A devastating fury lacerates his land. Raiders, whirlwinds, fires ravage his family, his flocks, his world. A disfiguring illness torments his body. A relentless grief plagues his soul.

Once a powerful lord, Job is reduced to a mere shadow, crying out day and night on a heap of ashes. Caught between the pangs of death and the emptiness of living, he exists day after lonely day. His comforters, condemn. God is silent. The cave swallows Job as he waits and waits and waits to face death.

David is not alone in the cave.

Ezekiel moans inwardly. The delight of his life, Ezekiel’s wife, dies. But God’s forbids him to mourn aloud. So he lives and speaks and acts day by day with the blinding loss hidden in his gut. His life is God’s very sign of Israel’s loss.

Born into the priesthood and raised to serve as priest in the Temple, Ezekiel never serves. Before his eyes, the Temple is destroyed and Jerusalem burns to the ground. Led away to the land of black clouds and false gods, he loses his homeland, his calling and his wife. Ezekiel prophecies judgment and waits and waits and waits to face death.

David is not alone in the cave.

Mary Magdalene has come to the end of all things. As the woman with seven spirits, she knows the desolation of complete forsakenness. With no hope, no family, nowhere to turn, she was falling and falling into darkness. Jesus took her hand and pulled her into light.

But now he is dead. Her hope lies in the tomb. She has nowhere to turn, no one to call. She sits at the cave, at the tomb, at the place of death. She cries with no tears. She screams with no noise.

She comes to cover Jesus’ body in spices, but he is gone. Instead of joy, she trembles in fear and confusion. Who has taken her hope? Who has stolen her joy? Mary sits by cave and waits and waits and waits to face death.

David is not alone in the cave.

I’ve known the cold, dark death of the tomb. I’ve felt the cool clutch of death seize my heart and drain my peace. I’ve known days that passed into night and back into days with no relief. As I write, I know some of you know this tomb all too well.

This is the place where God is silent. Darkness smothers. Words fall hollow. Hope seems lost.

This is the cold sabbath of Holy Saturday. We wait outside the tomb of Christ, wondering if we misunderstood. There are no words of hope. No reassuring feelings. No glimmers of light. Only a cold tomb where the body of our Savior lies. The thundering rule of death remains unchallenged and we grow weary, waiting and waiting and waiting to face death.

Jesus is not in the cave

In the twinkling of an eye, the Father speaks, the ground quakes, the Son arises. He who was dead is alive forevermore. He walks toward Mary, but she is blind to His love.

Jesus speaks and Mary arises with hope unshakeable. She goes forth as the first evangelist proclaiming the Good News of Him who has conquered.

In the land of darkness, Ezekiel beholds the light of glory. In his tomb of loss and death, the Lord calls his name. He arises and speaks to the four winds, he speaks to the valley of dry bones.

And behold a rattling…

Israel was dead but now is alive and from her bosom will flow healing for the nations.

Job runs out words. His complaint against God chokes in his throat as he sits, in silence. Then out of the whirlwind, the Lord answers Job. And the glory of the Lord shines all around. Job cannot answer. He can only behold, dumfounded by the wonder and majesty and beauty of the Lord on High. Job obediently prays for his friends.

David and his men do not die. But come forth as dread champions of the Lord. By God’s grace, those in distress, in debt and bitter in soul, come forth in the light of God’s glory. The Lord raises up David’s throne and from this very throne, Jesus rules and reigns the cosmos.

The cave does not, can not, will not have the final word. The voice of the Lord echoes through the place of the dead and the broken and weary and wounded come forth in his glory.

I have known the cave, and I have known the Father’s voice calling me forth to rest in the resurrection of Christ. In the cave, we are changed, transformed, and the tomb becomes a womb of new life in Christ.

So do not fear the cave. Eventually, we all go to the cave. But we are not forgotten. So rest. Wait. For the Risen One is Calling. By His word, we rise to new names, new vocations, new tomorrows. By His Word, we will rise and we will rise and we will rise to live in Christ forevermore.

Categories: meditation
  1. Michele
    November 22, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    thanks Doug!

  2. Clara Phillips
    November 23, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Good words, my friend. Holy words.

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