Psalm 142:1 With my voice I cry to the Lord; with my voice I make supplication to the Lord. 2 I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. 3 When my spirit is faint, you know my way. In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. 4 Look on my right hand and see — there is no one who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for me. 5 I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” 6 Give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low. Save me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. 7 Bring me out of prison, so that I may give thanks to your name. The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.
We’re told this psalm was written by David while he was hiding from his predecessor King Saul. David had enjoyed a blessed life, defeating the giant Goliath in battle against all odds. He had been chosen to serve King Saul in his court and then as leader of the army, enjoying success in whatever he did. His next step was to become king himself, but before he was crowned his journey went sideways.
King Saul, threatened by David, pursued David as he hid in a large cave. A cave is a good place to hide unless you’re discovered. There’s no escape from a cave with only one entrance, so David was trapped (v.7 “Bring me out of prison…”). It seemed like only a matter of time before he would be captured by Saul and put to death. But just when it seemed there was no hope he was saved by God.
But this episode was not without purpose. If David didn’t know it already, he owed everything to God. There was a humility that emerged from David as he experienced hardship and desperation. This would happen many times over the course of his life. And each time his back was against the wall, and there seemed to be no hope, he would recall God’s faithfulness through the years and he would be strengthened.
Through the hardship of the cave David matured in some very important ways.
We all go through difficult seasons in life. When I’m experiencing hardship and struggle, I cry out to God asking for him to deliver me ASAP. I don’t want to spend any more time in the dark caves of life than I have to. Lord, get me out of here!
But the truth is that God often uses these cave seasons to form us, shape us, mature us, prepare us for what lies ahead. There are lessons to be learned , character to be formed, humility to be embraced, in the cave. It may look like “game over”, but it’s not. The devil thought Jesus was dead and gone forever when they laid him in a burial cave. But God was not done with Jesus as he raised him back to life on the third day. Jesus’ greatest defeat was followed by his greatest victory, a victory over sin and death forever.
God does some of his best work in the cave.
Are you in a cave season right now? Are you being pressed from every side? Does there appear to be no hope of escape? If so, you’re not alone. And while it’s perfectly normal to pray for deliverance from the cave, pause a moment and ask yourself, “Is there something important for me in this cave season? Rather than praying for escape, should I be praying for patience and grace to remain in the cave until God has completed the work in me?”
Lord, dwell with us in the cave. Do a work in us that we cannot do for ourselves. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.