Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

September 7, 1888

In the Cave of Adullam

By Mrs. E. G. White

David sought refuge in the strongholds of the mountains from the determined pursuit of Saul. He made good his escape to the cave of Adullam, a place that could be defended against a large army by a small force. “And when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him.” The family of David could not feel secure, knowing that at any time the unreasonable suspicions of Saul might be directed against them on account of their relation to David. They concluded that they would be safer with him whom the prophet Samuel had anointed to be king of Israel, even though he was a fugitive in a lonely cave, than exposed to the insane madness of a jealous king. They believed the Lord would protect David from the persecuting enmity of Saul, and they determined to leave their unguarded home, and unite their fortunes with their kinsman in his lonely retreat. It was a sad leave-taking of home and flocks, as the family procession moved on toward the valley of Judah.

In the cave of Adullam, the family were at last united in sympathy and affection. The son of Jesse could make melody with voice and harp as he sang, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” He had tasted the bitterness of suspicion and distrust from his brethren; and the harmony that had taken the place of discord, brought joy and comfort to the exile's heart. It was here that David composed the fifty-seventh psalm.

It was not long before they were joined by others who desired to escape the exactions of the king. There were many who had lost their confidence in the ruler of Israel, for he no longer seemed to be guided by the Spirit of the Lord. “And everyone that was in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them; and there were with them about four hundred men.” Here David had a little kingdom of his own, over which he ruled, and he enforced perfect order and discipline. But even in his retreat in the mountains, he was far from feeling secure; for he received continual evidence that the king had not relinquished his murderous purpose. The spirit of evil was upon Saul. He felt that his doom had been sealed by the solemn message of his rejection from the throne of Israel. His departure from the plain requirements of God was bringing its sure results. He did not turn, and repent, and humble his heart before God, but opened it to receive every suggestion of the enemy. He listened to every false witness, eagerly receiving anything that was detrimental to the character of David, hoping that he might find an excuse for manifesting his increasing envy and hatred of him who had been anointed to the throne of Israel. Every rumor was credited, no matter how inconsistent and irreconcilable it was with the former character and custom of David.

Every evidence that the protecting care of God was over David seemed to imbitter and deepen his one engrossing and determined purpose. The failure to accomplish his own designs appeared in marked contrast to the success of the fugitive in eluding his search, but it only made the determination of the king the more unrelenting and firm. He was not careful to conceal his designs toward David, nor scrupulous as to what means should be employed in accomplishing his purpose.

It was not the man David, who had done him no harm, against whom the king was contending. He was in controversy with the King of Heaven; for when Satan is permitted to control the mind that will not be ruled by Jehovah, he will lead it according to his will, until the man who is thus in his power becomes an efficient agent to carry out his designs. So bitter is the enmity of the great originator of sin against the purposes of God, so terrible is his power for evil, that when men disconnect from God, Satan influences them, and their minds are brought more and more into subjection, until they cast off the fear of God, and the respect of men, and become bold and avowed enemies of God and of his people.

What an example was Saul giving to the subjects of his kingdom in his desperate, unprovoked persecution of David! What a record he was making to be placed upon the pages of history for future generations! He sought to turn the full tide of the power of his kingdom into the channel of his own hatred in hunting down an innocent man. All this had a demoralizing influence upon Israel. And while Saul was giving loose reign to his passion, Satan was weaving a snare to compass his ruin, and the ruin of his kingdom. While the king and his councilors were planning for the capture of David, the affairs of the nation were being mismanaged and neglected. While imaginary foes were constantly presented before the minds of the people, the real enemies were strengthening themselves without arousing suspicion or alarm. By following the dictates of Satan, Saul was himself hastening the very result which, with unsanctified ability, he was endeavoring to avert.

The counsel of the Lord has been disregarded again and again by the rebellious king, and the Lord had given him up to the folly of his own wisdom. The influences of the Spirit of God would have restrained him from the course of evil which he had chosen, that eventually worked out his ruin. God hates all sin, and when man persistently refuses all the counsel of Heaven, he is left to the deceptions of the enemy, to be drawn away of his own lusts, and enticed.

The Lord had brought his servant David to the court of the king, that Saul might be benefited by association with the sweet singer of Israel. The king was a lover of music, and an opportunity was granted to him of becoming impressed and subdued by the same spirit that was the life and inspiration of David's melodies. But the subtle suggestions of Satan were insinuated into his mind, until David became an object of suspicion and jealousy. On two occasions, as David ministered before the king, he had only escaped with his life by gliding away from before the javelin that the king had hurled at him with murderous purpose. But Saul was not moved to relent because of the evidences of God's protection of the son of Jesse.

David and his friends were far from feeling secure in the cave where they had sought refuge. The determined pursuit of Saul assured David that the king would not relinquish his plans, until he had accomplished his destruction. As far as appearances were concerned, the struggle on the part of David seemed to be hopeless; for the armies of Israel were urged on by the enmity of Saul to hunt the fugitive, nor give up the pursuit until he should become their captive.

David's anxiety was not all for himself, although he realized his peril. He thought of his father and mother, and he concluded that he must seek another refuge for them. He went to the king of Moab, and the Lord put it into the heart of the monarch to courteously grant to the beloved parents of David an asylum in Mizpeh, and they were not disturbed, even in the midst of the enemies of Israel. From this history, we may all learn precious lessons of filial love. The Bible plainly condemns the unfaithfulness of parents to their children, and the disobedience of children to their parents. Religion in the home is of priceless value.

Almost as soon as the safety of his parents was assured, a prophet of the Lord came to David, saying, “Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah.” Pursued from place to place, and persecuted without cause, David's soul at times was full of bitterness and discouragement. It seemed certain to him that he must, at last, fall into the hands of his pursuer and persecutor. But could his eyes have been opened, he would have seen the angels of the Lord encamped round about him and his followers. The sentinels of Heaven were waiting to warn them of impending danger, and to conduct them to a place of refuge when their peril demanded it. God could protect David and his followers; for they were not a band in rebellion against Saul. David had repeatedly proved his allegiance to the king.

The experience through which he was passing was not unnecessary and vain. God was giving him a course of discipline to fit him to become a wise general, as well as a just and merciful king. This little band of fugitives were being qualified to take up the work that Saul was becoming wholly unfitted to do, because of his murderous passion and blind indiscretion. Men cannot depart from the counsel of God, and retain their peace and restfulness of soul. There is no insanity so dreadful, so hopeless, as that of following human wisdom, unguided by the wisdom of God.

David and Saul stand before us in this history as men widely different in character. The course of David makes manifest the fact that he regarded the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom. But Saul was shorn of his strength, because he failed to make obedience to God's commandments the rule of his life. It is a fearful thing for a man to set his will against the will of God, as revealed in his specified requirements. All the honor that a man could receive on the throne of a kingdom, would be a poor compensation for the loss of the favor of God through an act of disloyalty to Heaven. Disobedience to the commandments of God can only bring disaster and dishonor, at last. God has given to every man his work, just as truly as he appointed to Saul the government of Israel; and the practical and important lesson to us is to accomplish our appointed work in such a manner that we may meet our life-records with joy, and not with grief.

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