The contrast between the blinding light of the scorching desert sun and the cool darkness of the cave hit him with an almost audible jolt. He could sense moisture in the air and heard the beautiful sound of the gentle rivulet trickling down the inner wall. He opened his mouth as dry as parchment, and his tongue escaped from the prison of his mouth to receive the tiny water droplets, like life giving manna or the precious communion Host. Refreshed he collapsed exhausted on the soft sandy floor of the cave and slept.
Dave had set out that morning optimistic and well organised with map, compass, water bottle and Canon 450 D camera. The guide book detailed his route.
‘Follow the trail starting at Km24, climbing gently through olive groves and pine forests before a steeper rocky climb to the summit Mount Gerazim (2030 metres). On a clear day the entire Jordan valley is visible to the east. Rocks may become slippery when wet. Keep to the recommended route’
The two week tour of Israel was instigated by his Grandfather and Dave was in a group of mostly elderly couples. The tour group had visited Bethlehem, the wailing wall and the sea of Galilee. Dave had become weary of the constant droning of the guide, the crowds of tourists and the tedious “grockle sellers”.
Dave‘s Grandfather, Jesse, was Jewish. Dave’s parents didn’t attend synagogue or follow Jewish traditions and Dave’s had easily brushed aside his Jewish roots wanting to be a typical American kid.
But Jesse wanted David, his only grandson, wanted to learn about the history of the Jewish people, so when he died he left a legacy to David stating that it was to be used for a trip to Israel, the birthplace of the Jewish faith and the homeland of the Jewish people.
Jesse had left Dave a well used Bible and a postcard of Mount Gerizim with the words of Psalm 18 v 2
‘The lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, My rock in whom I take refuge’
Dave’s quest began on the plane, lazily at first, he quickly became caught up with the adventures of his namesake, the unlikely rise from shepherd boy to fighter and from outlaw to King. He found he identified with David and saw surprising parallels in his own life. The lyrics of the Psalms were both inspiring and challenging but and the land he was seeing seemed centuries apart from the Bible stories and he hoped this walk would to bridge the gap. It was a pilgrimage, a journey into his heritage and a way of to paying tribute to his Grandfather.
Dave knew it was unwise to walk alone so he had informed the tour guide of his plan, packed a picnic and promised to be back at the hotel by early afternoon in time for a shower and rest before the flight home.
On the walk Dave became wrapped up in the beauty of the age old scenery. He saw a few goats, then a golden eagle swooping majestically above him. He began to feel a peace and connection with the land which had up till then eluded him.
Deep in thought, Dave slipped on a loose rock and tumbled heavily jarring his ankle and losing his water bottle. Confused, disorientated and in pain he stumbled around calling for help but only managed to become exhausted and dehydrated. It was by pure luck that he had found the cleft in the rock behind which lay the hidden cave.
Like King David centuries earlier, Dave found refuge and security in the cave and was eventually rescued by a search party organised by the worried tour guide.
The cave experience was a turning point in Dave’s journey of faith and cemented firmly a trust in the unchanging God of his forefathers. Psalm 18 had become a reality for him which he treasured in hidden places of his heart.
‘In my distress I cried to my God for help and he heard me and rescued me and brought me out into a spacious place because he delighted in me’
Ps 18:19 NIV
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