“MUSINGS WHILE IN THE HOLD”
COMING TO THE HOLD
Coming To The Hold
David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men. And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me. And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold. (1 Sam. 22:1-4)
For every mountain there is a valley. The higher the one, the deeper the other. In each expanded history of an individual servant of God recorded in the Scriptures, the valleys and the mountains are always prevalent. The valleys may either precede or follow the mountain peaks, usually both. Great callings require extensive and painful training. There are occasions when the rigorously cruel valleys and depths of despair seem to overtake a saint swiftly and without reason. Joseph, Job, Daniel and David are a few prime examples. In many instances, however, the valleys are what A.W. Pink observed as the results of “sinful folly.”
When looking at the life stories of the Biblical favorites, we find they all had great testings in the low lands of disconsolation — Adam and Eve, Noah and his family, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and his sons, especially Joseph. Israel’s exodus from Egypt under the leadership of Moses was also filled with forty years of tearful valleys amongst the mountain peaks. Try to discover the misery of Job or the dejection of David, not to mention the New Testament saints which equal the sufferings of the old in every way. Still, the anguish to which these saints were exposed dissipated when the Regal Sovereign became sin for us. The dark and wrathful valleys that Jesus endured were so far increased that they cannot be registered by finite beings. Their nature and form were far more rancorous and hateful. They nevertheless, were propitiating in execution and satisfying to divine justice.
In reference to the redeemed, we can with confidence conclude that each valley is ordered by a loving Father and is under His supreme determination. This must be embraced as a truth without question or else all hope of a fruitful result is gone, and suffering and anguish are viewed as an infamous canker. But both afflictions and deliverances are promises from the very God who is the Lord over all. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” (Ps. 34:19).
In 1 Sam. 22:1-4, David is in one of those aforementioned valleys. It may be helpful to trace his steps from Chapter 16 to ascertain how he arrived there. David went from obscurity to great fame by the ruling hand of God. The mountain of joy, however, was soon blemished by his enemies, and eventually blurred by his fear of men and distrust in the promise of Jehovah. Read 1 Samuel Chapters 16-22 and see how all of these things came to pass.
The sixteenth chapter of First Samuel reveals that while David was out guarding the sheep, God was commanding the anointing of Israel’s future king. The election and selections of the Lord are not purposed by men, their fancies or any outward appearance. What God sees, men cannot see. God is not impressed with human talent, grand stature, or natural ability. The things that influence the Lord are the gifts and callings that He communicates to the vessels of His own choosing. “John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” (Jn. 3:27).
Note how God refused and passed by the choices of men. Surely, Eliab, the oldest son of Jesse, was the Lord’s anointed. No, “The Lord said, I have refused him.” (1 Sam. 16:6-7). Perhaps Abinadab was the one. But no, “Neither hath the Lord chosen this.” (1 Sam. 16:8). There were yet five more sons that Jesse considered probable candidates. No, “The Lord hath not chosen these.” (1 Sam. 16:9-10). Samuel then asked Jesse is this all of your children? No, “There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither(1 Sam. 16:11) …And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he…(1 Sam. 16:12) and the spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” (1Sam. 16:13). In the judgment of men, even a father’s assessment of whom God will use is often blinded by various conditions, such was the case with Jesse in respect to God’s choice of David.
After his anointing, David received extraordinary honor with men, even King Saul. “And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armor-bearer.” (1 Sam. 16:21).
In the seventeenth chapter of First Samuel, the great exploits of David begin to unfold. He defeats the hero of the Philistines with a sling and five stones — Goliath is dead. The first and only stone used was sufficient.
Chapter 18 has David set above Saul’s army and he is made the leader in military expeditions. The people began to applaud and amplify his courage. Truly, David had found favor with both God and man. Women were dancing and singing, and in their fervor they exalted his conquests above even that of Saul.
It should be well established to all believers that at such a time as God blesses and promotes one of His servants, Satan will react with a hostile vengeance and seek to disaffect the progress. This was the case with David. “And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?” (1Sam. 18:8).
Saul first sought to kill David by his own hand (1 Sam. 18:10-11). The reason for this hatred of Satan and his agents is the knowledge that the Lord is with His people. “And Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with Him, and was department from Saul.” (1 Sam. 18:12). After Saul’s failure to destroy David with the javelin, he sunk to an even darker shade of moral debauchery and devised a plan that would involve his own daughters as enticing lures to effect his burning obsession. Oh! let us beware of gifts regardless of their great value. They can often be shrouded and concealed in desperate packaging. Animosity is malignant and will stop at nothing in the service of evil. “For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.” (Prov.6:34).
“And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the King’s son-in-law.” (1 Sam. 18:22). Saul cared not for David. He obviously cared little for his children. Saul cared only for himself — all else, family and virtue included, were expendable. Time and events have provided proof that after the fall, nothing has really changed in the depths of the malicious acts Satan and his emissaries will enlist in an effort to destroy God’s purpose.
In the nineteenth and twentieth chapters of First Samuel, more of the perverseness of Saul is demonstrated, as he used all methods possible in trying to rid himself of David. Remember dear saint to be ever watchful for devious motives, regardless of the seeming worth of the offering when dealing with those who lack validity. “BELOVED, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God…” (1 Jn. 4:1).
Saul became so heated in his hatred of David that in his rage, he sought to kill his own son Jonathan because he had respect unto David. (1 Sam. 20:33). Man’s depravity, as illustrated in the Bible, is boundless. This can be seen in our day as fathers and mothers abandon their vows and their children for self interests. The career, personal freedoms, adulterous appetites, and sinful desires are paramount. The divorced parents, single mothers and aborted children are testimonials of a degenerate and rebellious society. It is nothing to see national leaders sink to the scurrilous depths of vile immorality and still be applauded as admirable men in the eyes of evil and sin-infested nations.
When we come to chapter 21 of First Samuel, fear is the prevailing element in the life of David. He staggered now and forgot God’s anointing, as well as the promise that was truly involved therein. If God does not keep us from falling, we will surely fall. Unbelief and the fear of men are open avenues to a crushing despair. “And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul. (1 Sam. 21:10) ” . ..And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath.” (1 Sam. 21:12). In his distrust and unbelief, David ran from one fear straight to another.
Fear gave birth to more fear and when this family of fright takes command of the heart, we no longer act wisely, as is seen in the case of David. He went from trust in God and wisdom, to a shameful display of dishonoring unbelief. David began a good course with sound belief in God.
And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely…And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him…David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul … (1 Sam. 18:5, 14, 30).
Note next, however, the bewildering change in this once wise man who forgot the almightiness of the Lord.
And he changed his behavior before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard…Then said Achish unto his servants…Have I need of mad men…Shall this fellow come into my house? (1 Sam. 21:13-15).
My! how the mighty had fallen. Man left to himself is inept uselessness, and will deny the very power of God. “…but truly as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death” saith the weakened David. (1 Sam. 20:3).
After this stinging humiliation, David made his escape and departed for the cave Adullam. It is in this place that he sought refuge. A safe haven from all his fears and misgivings. Embarrassed and confused, the once revered champion is now in exile from his countrymen. Unbelief and the terror of man had caused him to be estranged from his God. With confidence shaken to the core, the man who would be king retreats to the “hold.” This “hold” was David’s dwelling until he knew what God would do for him.
The true believer may many times experience these same circumstances. We will most likely be as those that came to David — in distress, in debt, discontented, and assuredly discouraged. It is to the “hold” that God by His secret counsel has brought us. This “hold” may not be at all desirable. Hope and faith are almost gone. Emotions are best described as tumultuous and irrepressible. Still, it is of the Lord that His child is there. Bad as the description sounds, and as insufficient as safety may appear, the “hold” is a place of “fortified protection.” Nothing will be able to intrude or disrupt. The saint who is under the faithful and watchful eye of Jehovah is insulated from every enemy, whether real or imagined.
The purpose of the “hold” is designed to lead the wayward child back to a position of intimate fellowship and communion with his Father. It is a time for heaviness and repenting of sins and rebellions. Time spent searching for direction and the will of God. The “hold” is that dwelling where the reproved will improve. It is one of God’s schools for perfecting His work in the elect. The student may feel inactive, passive, deedless, and shut in, but he can rest in the instructor. God will not hesitate or retire until the course is finished. When the instruction is complete, the will of God will be certain. Repentance will be Spirit wrought and rebellion will be expelled. Fear will be vanquished, faith will be strong giving glory to God, and fellowship will be precious and affectionate. Self-confidence will be confined and the countenance of God will shine once again upon the restored believer. The redeemed child will be endowed with grace and mercy, ready to serve and please His Master with joy and gladness.
These wonderful triumphs may not be found or experienced without great travail of soul in advance. Remember what was said at the beginning of this chapter. There are valleys many – and mountains also. One is certainly indicative of the other. By the all-wise Father and God, afflictions and deliverances are inseparable.
A number of Psalms were written by David while in the cave at Adullam. We will note only two, Psalms 57 and 142. Psalms 142 was probably penned first and discloses a great deal more pain. Note the mention of being alone and without companions in the Psalmist’s overwhelming suffering (Ps. 142:4). The whole Psalm for the most part is shrouded in despair and acute sorrow. Only the last verse (Ps. 142:7) advances any certainty of deliverance.
Psalm 142: I CRIED unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.
The 57th Psalm was most likely written after the few (400) others had joined with him. (1 Sam. 22:2). Note the different atmosphere in which this Psalm is composed. A much brighter confidence is evident as each word is perfumed with the strongest aroma of assurance. (Ps. 57:2, 3-7, 9-11).
Psalm 57: BE merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth. My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah. My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.
After reading the latter Psalm (57), it is quite obvious that David is now a great deal more contained with regard to his fears and trust in God’s mercies. “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” David will now stay himself until he knows what God will do for him. The “hold” is in reality the shadow of the Master’s wings – here is refuge safe and secure from all calamities. The thing that now must needs be done for David is to wait “Till I know what God will do for me.” (1 Sam. 22:3).