Reading through the Bible I encounter passages describing experiences that are so familiar that they could be part of my autobiography. One of those passages describes King Davidís fugitive years in the wilderness of En-Gedi, the crags of the wild goats.
This wilderness is located in the western side of the Dead Sea, about twelve miles west and a little north of the Arugot gorge, leading to the springs of En-Gedi. Numerous caves, large and small, pock-mark the hillsides above the waterfall. Winding gullies, so small that even a mule would find it hard to navigate through them, deep thorn bush covered wadies and dry creeks filled with pebbles, and rubble, descending deep into the valley make this terrain hard to walk through. It was in area that David and his faithful band of Habiru warriors sought refuge from the anger of King Saul.
As King Saul and his army relentlessly scourged the wilderness around them, the fugitives struggled to keep ahead of them, forging a path through the brambles thorn bushes and trees. Tired and weary, the Habiru band moved on trusting only on Yahwehís strength and wisdom to guide them to safety.
As the fugitives advanced northwest, they found a small opening on the rocky face of a crag hidden by bushes. On closer scrutiny they were excited to find that hidden behind the bushes was a large entrance to a huge cave. It was a comfortable shelter for all of them. Safe inside the cave, hidden from view, they saw Saulís army assemble beneath them in the valley. They heard the command to fight the Philistines invading the land. In amazement they saw the army withdraw from the forest and march away.
They made an altar with some rocks and sacrificed a turtle dove as a thank offering. As they bowed down, David brought out his harp and sang a song of praise and gratitude. Now they could prepare a feast and relax. The activity in the forest had driven the game towards them and when the hunters when went out they were able to return with enough venison to feed them all. They lit a big fire and cooked the venison. They filled their water containers with the crystal clear water from the springs below. With great joy they grouped around the cloth spread on the floor of the cave and passed out the barbequed venison.
There was great joy as the starved and tired men ate their fill and relaxed. Once again David played his harp as his heart overflowed with thankfulness for Godís unfailing faithfulness. That night, for the first time in years the men slept without fear, with full stomachs and with hope that God would safely see them through the wilderness.
Like David I too have had my wilderness experiences. I can understand his feeling of loneliness and despair when those you love betray your trust. It is a terrible feeling to be despised and disowned and treated as an outcast, especially when you do not deserve it. David did not deserve his exile. God had anointed him King of Israel and David loved and worshipped his God. David never once questioned Godís wisdom. Through all his trials and hardships it was his faith in Godís unfailing goodness that gave him strength and peace to endure. His harp never left his hand and His praises never left his lips. It was this experiences that made him write the beautiful, inspiring Psalms that today encourage and comfort me. Psalm twenty-three has been one of my favorites in times of need, especially the following verses:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I
will fear no evil for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine
enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my
life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23: 4-6 (KJV)
And so it is that just as God took care of Davidís needs amidst the crags of the wild goats, He has provided for me a barbeque in the wilderness of my life and has satisfied the hunger of my famished heart with a sumptuous cookout on the rocks beside the springs of En-Gedi.
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