Sermon on 1 Samuel 22:1-5 – “Something Better”

Sermon on 1 Samuel 22:1-5 – “Something Better”

Sermon for Sunday morning, June 16, 2024 at Unionville Presbyterian Church, BPC

and

Sermon for Sunday evening, June 16, 2024 at Hudson Valley United Reformed Church

Old Testament reading:

[Psa 57:1-11 ESV] 1 To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave. Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. 2 I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. 3 He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! 4 My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts– the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! 6 They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah 7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! 8 Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! 9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 10 For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

New Testament reading:

[Phl 2:19-24 ESV] 19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

Gospel reading:

[Jhn 5:1-9 ESV] 1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids–blind, lame, and paralyzed. 4 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.

Scripture Reading:

[1Sa 22:1-5 ESV] 1 David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. 2 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 commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men. 3 And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.” 4 And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. 5 Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.

Introduction

Something better.

Do you every find yourself wishing for “something better?”
For the greener grass?
For the happier days?
For a windfall of money that will change your life?

No doubt we all wish at times for “something better.”

While it is sinful to covet, it is not necessarily wrong to desire “something better.”
Especially is this the case when we realize that the greatest thing we may have is a trusting relationship with the Lord himself. And we should desire the Lord with all our heart.

So, in our text, God has something better in store for David.
David knows that truth, even if he doesn’t know all the details of what will come to pass.
But something better will come. Something from the Lord.

So David WAITS ON THE LORD. He trusts in God that “the Lord will provide something better.”

There are three parts to this short passage.
1. There is the refuge of the Cave of Adullam which is “something better” than the dangers of living where Saul might attack.
2. There is the refuge of the King of Moab for David’s parents. This is “something better” than the cave for them.
3. Then there is the truly better; word from the Lord himself whom David prays to in the cave and his from through the prophet Gad.

1. The Cave of Adullam (vs. 1-2)

First, in our passage, we find David in the Cave of Adullam. There he finds temporary refuge, but all the while he knows that in God ALONE there refuge that is eternal.

His waiting isn’t passive. David is active in our text. He knows that God’s anointing of him as King will prove itself out in time, and yet he must act appropriately.

His first step, after the distress he has gone through is to escape to the cave of Adullam.

What is the distress? There is lots of it. Essentially, King Saul keeps trying to kill him. Saul has had many plots against him. David and his band have been on the run. And they’ve just barely escaped from Gath where David had to pretend to be insane to escape with his life.

And so he leaves Gath of the Philistines and comes to the border of Philistia and Israel. It is a frontier no-man’s land where there is the Cave of Adullam. This is “Dave’s Cave” for a time. It is mentioned in our text, as well as others in 2 Chronicles and in two Psalms of David. And all references to this Cave of Adullam are to this brief period where David finds refuge there.

Adullam is an old Canaanite place. There once was a “king of Adullam” mentioned in the Book of Joshua. And Joshua and the Israelites “smote” this king along with 35 other Canaanite kings. By the time of David the place seems rather desolate. So it makes for a good hiding place and a good refuge.

Word gets out first to David’s family and then to others that he is in the Cave of Adullam. And so they come out to join him.

First it is his family. His brothers and all his father’s household.

Then it is “everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul.”

No doubt David’s family was in distress. They must have been thinking, “surely Saul could turn his anger against us.” So for the sake of their lives they run to David. It isn’t so much to protect David, as to join with him in common defense.

Then the rest of the crew that joins him is “in distress, in debt, bitter in soul.” Presumably these are their circumstances relative to Saul. It is not just normal distress, but fear for their lives. It is not just normal debt, but debt that they cannot pay and could be jailed for.

Then there is this term “bitter in soul.” What does that mean? The King James translates it as “everyone that was discontented.” Most translations in fact say that: “discontented.”

And we use this term “discontent” in our day with rather light connotations. Somethings not quite right, so I’m discontent. But here in Samuel we see that to be “discontented” means to be seriously discontent for a long period of time. It is not a fleeting thing, but their entire circumstances in life. Things are so bad, they are so discontented, that they are will to throw in their lot with David rather than continue under Saul.

Notably, they don’t become a mob. They come to be “under” David. He becomes their commander. And so there is order in this growing group.

And their ranks swell to about 400 men. It is no longer a small band, but a sizable force.

For these men the cave is “SOMETHING BETTER” than the conditions of life from which they were departing. That is what we find in the first two verses.

II. David sends his parents to Moab (vs. 3-4)

Then, in the next two verses (3 and 4) we find that David sends his parents to Moab.

That is, David wants “SOMETHING BETTER” for his parents. He wants them to have some better accommodations and greater safety. Maybe his father Jesse is too old to be fighting battles. And we don’t know much of his mother; the Bible doesn’t record David’s mother’s name. But David is “honoring his father and mother” and caring for them; seeking “something better” for them.

So they are sent to Mizpah in Moab. And … they are let in to the country and David’s parents stay with the King of Moab. Good to have friends in high places!

We should ask, Why are they let in to Moab? Isn’t Israel an enemy of Moab? Well, there are at least two reasons why David’s parents are welcomed by the King of Moab.

1. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” They may be what the King of Moab was thinking. Saul was HIS enemy. And now Saul is coming after David. It is strategically beneficial for the King of Moab to assist David against Saul.

2. David’s great-grandmother Ruth was a Moabite.

The central theological statement in this passage then is uttered by David when he drops off his parents in Moab. He says to the king, “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.”

REPEAT: “till I know what God will do for me.”

Here David has great faith. It is not “IF” but “what.”

Will God save me? That’s not the question. David already knows that God will.
But WHAT will God do for me?

He’s casting himself upon God and expecting God’s deliverance; not a victory by his own means, but by God’s means.

He knows that God has something better in store for him

And so David goes back to the cave and prays.

III. Prayers from the Cave and direction from God through the Prophet Gad. (v. 5)

There he waits on the Lord and he prays. How do we know this? It is not in our text, But there are two Psalms which David writes at this time. Psalm 47 and Psalm 142. We are fortunate to have with many Psalms the titles and explanations of their origin.

In Psalm 57 it tells us it is “A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.”
And in Psalm 142 it tells us it is “A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave.”

Hebrew scholars are undecided on what exactly a “Miktam” and a “Maskil” are, but it is clear that they are in reference to the type of writing. These are types of prayers or songs with a certain melody.

And each of these two — Psalm 57 and 142 — are prayers “from the cave” where David is waiting on the Lord and praying for “something better.”

In Psalm 57 he prays:

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. 2 I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. 3 He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!”

That is confidence IN THE LORD. The Lord has something better in store.

Well, you might say, that is almost certainly the case. When you’re living in a cave it can’t go much downhill from there! Unless death awaits.

This reminds me of a story I heard of a minister recently. He was hired by a church, and for whatever reason (perhaps his own faults) the attendance quickly dwindle to ZERO! And someone at another church asked, “How it is going there?” And he said “Things are looking up!” “When you’re laid out flat on our back, your view is straight up to the sky. “

Well, David’s reason for positive thinking is not that he has hit rock bottom and he can only go up from there; rather his hope is in the Lord. He trusts in the Lord.

He continues his prayer in Psalm 57:

9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 10 For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Then in the cave he also writes Psalm 142. It also is “A prayer”

He prays

5 I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” 6 Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me! 7 Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.

See that? YOU ARE MY REFUGE.
It is not the Cave that saves Dave!
Rather it is “The Lord” that “is my refuge in the day of trouble.”
The Lord is “something better.” “SomeONE better.”

So if you are looking at your own circumstances and hoping for
“Something better in God’s plan.”
Know this, ultimately, that which is something better IS GOD HIMSELF.

“There’s got to be something better for me than this.”
You can have that something better right now.
You don’t need to move to a new house or have a new job or a new spouse. You need to trust in the Lord.

David trusts in the promises of the Lord. He finds safety in the cave for a short period, but forever in the Lord.

And he says to the King of Moab:

“Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.”

And what does God do? He sends the prophet Gad.

Now there were a number of new characters introduced in the last chapter. Ahimelech the priest, King Achish, and Doeg the Edomite. Now again some new characters are introduced. First, the King of Moab and then the Prophet Gad.

This prophet Gad — also called Gad the Seer — was brought up under Samuel and his school of prophets. And he then may have joined David’s band of followers.

And so Gad, being a prophet of the Lord, brings God’s word to David. This is what David has been waiting for.

Gad says: “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.”

So David leaves this fortified place of safety, but is far safer obeying the direction of the Lord. The Lord has something better in store for David; not to be holed up in a cave, but to continue on his journey towards becoming the King of Israel.

So David obeys the word of the Lord and he “departed and went into the forest of Hereth.” In faith, he’s going back to Israel, putting himself at risk of running into Saul.

APPLICATIONS
There are a number of things that we can learn from this text. I’ll note three applications in particular.

Application 1:While you wait on the Lord, pray.

David has dropped off his parents in Moab, and he’s back in the cave waiting to see what the Lord will do. And what does David do in the meanwhile? He prays.

He could say “I don’t have time for that.” “I’ve got all these military preparations to make, and I’ve got 400 house guests (cave guests?) over.” He’s a busy fella, but he prays.

I think of this frequently when getting to work on a sermon.

I’ve got a lot of work ahead, I better pray.

You might even have head of a situation where you have 40 hours of work to do and only 16 hours left to do it in. And a man of God says “I’m only going to get this work done if I pray for an hour.”

To a non-believer this sounds foolish. To a Christian it is wisdom. We needs the Lord’s intervention.

So while you wait on the Lord or while you’re hurrying to catch up in life, pray.

Then, secondly,

Application 2: When God answers your prayers, obey.
REPEAT: When God answers your prayers, obey.

David is in his “wilderness wanderings.”
You’ve perhaps had those too.
For many, our “wilderness wanderings” are those years when we leave our parents house and are trying to figure things out in the world.

For others, perhaps our wilderness wanderings are trying to figure out our lives after retirement.

What do I do? Where do I go?

We are to learn, like David, to trust in the Lord, looking for what “God will do for me.”

And when that is made clear — when the Lord brings an opportunity to you — we are to obey his Word.

When God answers your prayers, obey.

We don’t have prophets anymore. We don’t have Gad; and he was a “personal prophet” for David.

But we do have the Word of God which we are to apply to our lives. And we are to obey it.

Throughout the Scriptures we hear about “waiting on the Lord.” And that is in play here in our text. But there is something else. There is ACTION when the waiting is done and the Lord has given you direction. David obeys the Lord, leaves the cave, and goes to the forest of Hereth.

Let’s think of some “real world” applications.

You are waiting on the Lord for what He will do. And, a sudden need comes about. Something serious. A niece or nephew needs to be adopted. An aunt or an uncle needs a caregiver. You have the space in your house. God had made it clear to you what you are to do. You’ve been waiting, now obey the Lord.

Sometimes prayers are answered in the negative. A job interview is unsuccessful. A marriage proposal isn’t accepted. Sometimes the answer to a prayer is “no.” And so we are to obey the Lord. Don’t grumble. Don’t despair, but trust in Him even in those challenges.

Then, a final application

Application 3: “Knowing God” is the “Something Better” which you need.

David doesn’t know what God’s answer will be.
But WHATEVER the answer is, it is from God. And therefore it is to be accepted.

And so you can see that it is not the particulars of the events that are important. They come and go.

God could have said “Go back to Gath.”
Or God could have said “Go to Moab” or “God to Jerusalem” or even “stay in the Cave.”
And whatever the answer would have been to David’s prayer, he, in faith, would obey …
BECAUSE his greatest objective; his chief end is knowing God.

Knowing God is the “something better” that we all should seek.

Then, whatever our outward circumstances, our joy is complete. There’s nothing, no one, better that the Lord. In Him we find we find true refuge.

And so we’ll close with that idea — true refuge is found in God — with that great quote from St. Augustine. True in his day and in our … “Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till then find rest in Thee.”

We should say “our hearts are restless until they find that something better which is thee.