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  • Writer's pictureKaren Pennington

The Best King was a Caveman

My pastor, Pastor Tim Smart, once shared with our congregation about how God had spoken to him in his frustration. Having felt the call to ministry well over a decade earlier, he had waited on God's timing and planted our church a little over three earlier. There was no doubt in his mind (or mine) that this ministry is both ordained and anointed by God. And yet in terms of growth in the fellowship, the numbers were not coming nearly as quickly as he would like. More importantly, we seemed to be hitting a lot of roadblocks in our forward movement towards fulfilling God's call upon our lives.

When he asked God the reasoning for all of the challenges and relative smallness (compared to what he would like to see), the Lord told him this: "I am sending you into the cave."

I suppose that at first this answer made about as little sense to him as it did to any of us. Then he recalled for us the story of King David, the ruler through whom God established the royal line of succession that would lead up to the eternal King Of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ himself.

As far as kingship was concerned, David was the whole package: a gifted statesman, an accomplished musician, a successful warrior, a loyal friend, and exceptionally "easy on the eyes," if you know what I mean. Most importantly, he was described as a man after God's own heart. Even as God revealed to him that his royal line would be established forever, his response was to bow in humility and praise the Lord.

David was not without his shortcomings and mistakes, for which he paid dearly throughout his lifetime. Yet in the end he always seemed to come back to his faith in and reliance upon the Lord. The combination of his wisdom, gifts and fiercely loyal warrior servants laid the foundation for the greatest period of peace and prosperity in Israel's history.

David was also a caveman. And by that I mean that for a period of time he literally lived in a cave. His many early accomplishments had earned him the role of personal musician to King Saul, then commander of Saul's army and eventually the king's son in law. Some of those same gifts eventually led Saul to see him as a threat and make several attempts on his life. David could not at the time seek solace from the neighboring kings, whose armies he had defeated. Instead,:

"David... escaped to the cave of Adullam." (I Samuel 22:1)

This was not the only cave where David stayed. With Saul in hot pursuit of him, he could not stay in one place for long. Instead, he moved throughout the wilderness, laying his head wherever he could find rest and cover from Saul and his army.

Even while David wore King Saul's label as "felon at large," people seemed to be drawn to him. As an outlaw, however, David drew a different kind of a crowd:

"All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him." (I Samuel 22:2) This number continues to increase throughout David's wilderness escape route.

So basically David went from being the commander of the "winners" (Saul's powerful army) to being the lord of the misfits, the king of the cavemen. It is not so much that these men and their families were unfit citizens or warriors. Yet they seemed to identify themselves as outcasts, forgotten and tossed aside by society. They were not unvaluable, but they had been devalued.

The book of I Chronicles tells several tales of the great heroes and warriors in the time of King David. These "mighty men," as the Bible calls them, were the people who joined David as outcasts and "misfits" during his time of hiding from Saul in the wilderness. The most influential people in helping build the great kingdom of Israel were the same one who years before had felt ignored at best, rejected at worst by this very nation that they had helped lead. And their leader, King David, once again ruled over the very army who had once sought his life.

In light of this story, I count it an honor to serve as a "cavewoman" alongside my pastor and the other beautiful people in my congregation. One would probably not label us as a group of society outcasts. Yet in hearing our stories, I know that most if not all of us know what it is like to feel misunderstood, undervalued, rejected, lost and just plain desperate. And I believe that God can and will use these very times of desperation as training periods to prepare us for our greatest victories in life.

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