When You Are In The Cave

November 9, 2014

Have you felt like you were in a cave driven there by despair, sin, your physical or spiritual enemies? It’s dark and dank and you wonder if God sees your predicament and cares. You are afraid to even look out the entrance lest your enemies find you and torment you.

David had a similar experience. Here he is to be the next king and the current one has him hiding in a cave to save his life and that of his men. Not exactly the kind of lifestyle for a future king. Not the kind of situation we children of the King expect to find ourselves in as we march towards Zion.

Psa 142:1 Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave. I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.

Note the word Maschil. It means instruction and David is sharing the instruction he received in the cave while waiting on God and seeking His face. We also can learn from this instruction.

I find it interesting that I was led to this Psalm as I was in a cabin last weekend nicknamed the Cave. I went to fast and pray and seek relief from my enemies, me being the chief one. My cave was far more comfortable than the one David was in.

I went there to cry unto the Lord as he did. I had asked for prayer from my family and friends as well as several Internet prayer groups. I requested that those who knew how to pray would pray demon scaring prayers as the average lay me down to sleep and bless him Lord prayers were not what I needed.

We need to pray such prayers. David cried out in anguish or as one who cries that is in danger. Have you ever seen someone in deep grief at a grave site? I have seen too many while I was in the Dover AFB Honor Guard during Viet Nam. They don’t just softly say, “Woe is me.” They are loudly weeping, wailing and groaning. Have you ever heard someone cry for help or scream when they are frightened? There is no reserved, “Excuse me, Sir, could you help me?” or a soft. “Oh, that was scary.” They are trying to get the whole world to hear them in their trouble or fear.

If you ever heard someone from a Charismatic background or an old Baptist from the South pray, you have an idea of what kind of praying David was doing. Those folks call the roll and name names while calling for angels to wallop the devil. They are serious!

The old office of Compline is an end of day prayer. “I confess to almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and before all the company of Heaven, that I have sinned, in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, my own grievous fault; wherefore I pray, almighty God, to have mercy upon me, to forgive all my sins, and to make clean my heart within me.”

Now that is praying! When you are making a supplication for something you really need you are going to be a bit emotional and loud. When your kids really wanted something at the store they did not just say, “Oh dear Father, might I have some candy, please?” No, they got animated. They jumped up and down, gyrated and got that pleading face as they yelled, “Candy! Daddy! Please, Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Please! Please! Please!!!” especially if you initially say no. Then they will get more animated as they tell you why they desperately need it and promise to do two extra chores for infinity and beyond or not punch their siblings anymore.

Psa 142:2 I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.

David poured out his complaint. Poured it out like the blood when you cut yourself and are taking blood thinners. If it was an oil well you’d dance in the gusher. He spilled his guts as we would say it. He let it all hang out! He felt comfortable enough with God to do that. We get before God and act like He doesn’t already know what is going on. He knows it all so why hide it or hold back? That is the great thrill when talking to God. Let it out!

You cannot just tell everyone what is going on in your life or soul. They may not be as faithful to keep your secret or may start looking for a doorway out because of a judgmental spirit or they are afraid you will want them to share their secrets. You can tell it all to God as you see it and He will respond as He sees it and most likely it will be far different than what you think you know!

He poured out his complaint! Man, we complain all the time about our job, co-workers, Bosses, spouses, etc. The word here connotes that there was contemplation or thought given before the complaint. David thought about his situation and the normal ascension process to the throne and then sought to discuss his complaint. We often just complain to hear ourselves complain and about foolish nitpicking things to boot.

Hezekiah did what David did when God told him to get his house in order because he was going to die. He looked at his life and saw he had no heir, he was a good king and his reign was rather short compared to many evil kings that had many heirs and a longer reign. God heard that complaint and granted him fifteen more years. Because of our limited knowledge and near sightedness we can complain to God if we see something that does not fit into our concept of justice or correctness forgetting He has the whole picture. Hezekiah enjoyed his fifteen years and the joy of a son, but that son became one of the most wicked kings Judah ever had. God knew what He was about.

David showed God his trouble. God knew it in better detail than David did. A gracious and loving God let David draw Him a picture. David laid it out as he saw it and probably went into great detail. You wonder if God smiled or chuckled as He watched His chosen one lay out a detailed outline of the problem when He had the full text.

We can also lay it all out to God. In our age, I guess we can create a Power Point with bar graphs, trends and whatever else we may feel that God might have missed in dealing with us. Man, what a gracious and patient God we serve!

Psa 142:3 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.

Ever been overwhelmed in your spirit? I have! When I look over my past and see all the mess and failures then consider how far I am from where I would love to be with God it can be very overwhelming. Yet, in this state David can say that God knew his path. Do you see the struggle of faith here? Looking at his circumstances he feels like he is swallowed by the sea or maybe even a whale like Jonah. Then his heart and spirit reaches out to the truth that there is an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God that is not surprised or overwhelmed by the place the man after His own heart is in. Can I get a Glory?

Oh, my beloved brethren, grasp that! You can be as dumbfounded, lost and overwhelmed thinking you are going to lose your mind or die and God is next to you on the path! Hold on to that! You won’t be dropped if you lose your grip because He has you in His grip and no one falls out of His hand!

David was seeking to walk God’s path and yet his enemies laid snares or land minds in the path. His biggest enemy was King Saul, his father-in-law. Sometimes our worst enemies are people who we trust and should love us and encourage us. Yet, even with them, the world, the flesh and the devil often our most dangerous enemy is ourself. We lay our own snares as if we are in some amnesic or hypnotic state because we forget we put them there and what happened the last time we laid those same snares.

He did not blame God for the snares. So often the Children of God accuse their Redeemer of causing their problems or complain because He does not solve their problem or remove their enemies the way they want or in what they think is a timely manner. In all his trouble and complaint David was like Job in that he spoke the thing that was right about the Lord.

Psa 142:4 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.

He goes back to his situation and relates how he looked on his right hand. The right hand was normally the sword hand and the hand of strength so he looked there for others to join him in his duress. To his dismay, no man would acknowledge him or know him. It was not like they had no knowledge of him. They just chose to ignore him or deny they knew him like Peter did when times got rough and he said he never knew Christ.

Maybe you have done the same thing. You have looked for family, friends and even the Church to come to your aid when you were in despair or afraid and no one wanted to get involved. Maybe they thought your “bad luck” would rub off on them. Maybe like a friend of mine you lost a spouse and all your married friends abandoned you. There was no place of refuge to run to for the safety of your soul. It seemed like no man or woman cared for your soul. I have been there and I have tried not to abandon someone if I knew they were in trouble because of my experiences, but I may have done it and not even realized it because I am flesh and fail.

Psa 142:5 I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.

After looking for human help, David looks up and realizes while human help is wonderful and blessed when the brethren love on you and lift up your wearied arms really all you need is the Lord. When that thought hit him he cried unto the Lord. Literally, he shrieked! Like that shout of joy when you gave your child their first car or when your daughter got the invitation to a class party from the guy of her dreams. It was a joyful cry of triumph. God is his place of refuge, the rock that was higher than him and his buckler and shield!

God was his portion or inheritance in the land of the living. Yes, he was going to inherit the throne of Israel, but his real portion was God, who gave him that throne and would be with him always even in the days of his sins of adultery and murder though he had no clue he would ever do such a thing.

Brethren, all you really need is God. To be in fellowship with Him on a deserted island is far better than to be in the midst of family and friends, but distant in your heart from Him. They may desert you or let you down, but He is there for the long haul called eternity.

Psa 142:6 Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.

When he dwells on that thought he asks God to attend unto his cry or shriek of grief. You ladies know how this works. You can be in a dead sleep when that baby cries and sometimes just whimpers but you are there like lightning while Dad snores on. God also has his ears tuned to the cry of His children, be they babes in the faith or the aged who cannot even speak for He hears their heart.

He has been brought very low and there has been a quickness about it. One day he is in the castle as the king’s son-in-law, a general and a musician and over night he is in a cave. So many times we are in such a condition because we did not see the red lights or warning signals God gave or we ignored them. It seems we are brought from the mountain top to the valley in an instant when it has really been a slow slide that picked up speed so that the last drop seemed to be so quick. No matter how low or fast it happens, God was there at the top, during the slide and met you at the bottom.

David pleads for deliverance from his persecutors or the ones chasing him down to do him harm. He realizes he does not have the strength to prevail and like Paul was at the point where he had the sentence of death in himself, that he should not trust in himself, but in God which raiseth the dead. (2 Cor 1:9) He would be a dead man if they found him and only God can save him.

We need to come to that point as well. We have no strength over the people and things that persecute us that seem to hunt us down at every turn. We have no recourse for our fear, doubts, grief or sins but Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who was given to us by the Father because of the redemption provided for us through the blood of our Passover Lamb. All other attempts to overcome these persecutors will end in dismal failure.

“When you’re tired of fighting, chained by your control. There’s freedom in surrender. Lay it down and let it go. Just be held.” (Just Be Held by Casting Crowns) Often we just need to be held by Him. Let go and let Him do it!

Psa 142:7 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.

Is not our cry the same as David’s? Bring our soul out of prison. He was in a cave that he could freely exit, but to do so was to expose himself to his enemies and bring about his death. It may as well been a prison with bars and locked doors. Yet, it was there he was instructed about how to overcome despair and his enemies by looking to Almighty God as his refuge and portion.

Many times we are in prisons of our own making and God lets us dwell there for a season or in a cave to focus us. We are so scattered about in our minds about things we think are important. We are busy, busy, busy. We are too busy for Jesus in we cannot fit Him into our schedule or too busy for Him in that we love ministry more than Him. He just becomes our brand name we work under as we do our thing.

Sin also imprisons many of us. We may think we are not guilty of what we call the big sins and some call the seven deadly sins, but in reality we are guilty. Every sin we commit is an act of adultery against our Groom since we are the Bride of Christ. If He treated us like many pastors teach and many Christians believe there would not be a moment when Christ would not be in divorce court. The New Jerusalem could be much, much smaller as there would be very few residents.

Having being brought of prison so that he can praise God, David recognizes that the righteous will surround him in that day. Indeed, the sound of praising God will draw the righteous like a flame draws a moth, but it draws them to life and light, not death in the flames.

Lastly note, that he is still in the cave. Nothing of his situation has changed and yet, in faith, he affirms that God will deal bountifully with him. Yes, like Job who received twice of what he lost during his trouble, except children for the first ten were alive with God, so also David looked forward to being on the throne and being blessed beyond comprehension while he was still a hunted man living in a cave.

Faith came in the cave because that light was lit before he was in the darkness. It flickered in the cold wind and dankness of the cave, but it did not go out. Peter’s faith wavered in that dark night of Jesus’ arrest while under the gaze and pointed fingers of his persecutors, but it failed not and he, like David, came out of the cave and the righteous compassed him about on the Day of Pentecost with three thousand converts. The Lord dealt bountifully with them both. Hallelujah!!!

Are you in a cave or prison? Are you surrounded by human or spiritual persecutors with seemingly no man caring for your soul? Receive the instruction of this Psalm. It does not matter how low you are just cry out to the true refuge of your soul and your portion for this life. Admit your weakness and let the Lion of Judah deal with the enemies. Give your sins and failures over to Him. Lay it all down at His feet and He shall bring you out of prison that you may praise Him in the midst of the congregation. The righteous will surround you as well and help you praise Him for dealing with you bountifully! Praise Him for his Maschil or instruction in the dark for it will ultimately burst forth into light and freedom! Maranatha!!!


Happy Thanksgiving?

November 6, 2014

One of the basic values of Judaism is hakarat hatov – the gratitude to others for favors and help extended to one. This concept is even embodied in the relationship of a Jew with one’s Creator. Ingratitude towards the Creator Who has granted us life and all of its attendant benefits is reckoned as being a primary sin of attitudes and bad values in Jewish ethical thought. Rabbi Berel Wein

A desire to kneel down sometimes pulses through my body, or rather it is as if my body has been meant and made for the act of kneeling. Sometimes, in moments of deep gratitude, kneeling down becomes an overwhelming urge, head deeply bowed, hands before my face. Esther Hillsume

“Gam zu l’tova. This too is for the good.” – Nachum Ish Gamzu, Talmud, Taanit, 21a “Who is wise? One who learns from every man… Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations… Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot… Who is honorable? One who honors his fellows.” – Ben Zoma, Ethics of the Fathers, 4:1

Lev_22:29 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Col_4:2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

November brings us to the Thanksgiving Day holiday, which really should be known as National Gluttony Day or National Stuff Your Pie Hole Till You Can’t Walk Day. 😉 It’s reason to be has been lost in many places and certainly does not to seem to last past the day since we give it no more than a gratuitous prayer before we gorge. Once, my maternal grandfather must have taken a tad too long praying for a cousin. It went “Thank you, Lord, Amen. Pass the ham!” All eyes fell on the “starving cousin” who looked to well fed to be starving.

While, it is honorable and fitting to observe an annual day of thanksgiving, it is more fitting to seek to be thankful every day since God is doing far more for us than we deserve on a second by second basis. When we stand before Him and we see all His background work on our behalf we will be ashamed at our lack of gratitude because we did not get things our way especially when He shows us what a train wreck our way would have been. We will be very thankful then.

If you have more than one change of clothes, a permanent dwelling, some change in your pocket and you know where your next meal is coming from then you are richer than 85% or more of the rest of the world. I’d say that is a cause for thankfulness. Your job stinks and your Boss is a twit? Many people would gladly take your job and deal with the Boss. Be thankful. Your feet or knees hurt? Talk to the folks with no legs. All of this may sound trite, but it is true.

The poorest Americans are for the most part fat. Poor Africans are not. Indian (Bombay) women often only get two dresses in their life and if they are lucky a pair of sandals. What does you closet look like? Our poor have many places they can go to get food and clothes even if they live on the street. Some live on the street by choice. Many could do better if they chose to do so. Many in Asia can never find a way to better their condition. We need to be thankful.

God made a way for someone to give an offering of thanksgiving, but it was not commanded. It was a free will offering. God will not make us grateful or force us to thank Him, but how sad that we who have had so much for so long not only forget to thank Him, but also kick Him out of everything we can and then sing, “God Bless America.” I have a feeling that might anger Him as it is very hypocritical as well as “In God We Trust” on our money when we can’t pray openly or speak His name in many places. I think we are being blest in that He has not destroyed us and taken us into captivity, yet.

If our children were such ingrates as we are, it is unlikely we would continue to do more than what is legally required of us. It is time to return to God and bow down and offer true praise and thanksgiving to Him. Indeed, if Esther Hillsume could bow in gratitude to God in a time of persecution that ultimately ended in her death in Auschwitz we need to rethink our life and bow to His grace and glory! Bad times come, but as the Talmud and Joseph said to his brothers who sold him into slavery, “This too is for the good.” Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

Want to be rich? Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot. Paul said, he knew how to abound and to be abased and in whatsoever state he was in to be content. He wrote that chained in a nasty dungeon and the whole epistle of Philippians is book of rejoicing. Have you read his “resume” in 2 Corinthians 11? I do not know anyone who has gone through all of that, yet he rejoices, and is content. Wow! Simply, WOW!

As it is a basic tenet in Judaism, it is also in Christianity to have thankfulness.

1Thess 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Many Christians are seeking the will of God for their life. Philippians 4:6 and Colossians 4:2 are pretty clear as what a part of His will is for Christians 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is also one clearly given. Start with these and more guidance will come as you seek Him and seek His Word for more specific information about His will. Notice the emphasis on prayer that does not worry, but is thankful.

Make this Thanksgiving Day, the start of a life full of gratitude and not just a day of ritual prayer and pigging out. It will make major changes in your life. Blessings to you as you count your blessings! Shalom! Maranatha!