Cave Prayers

Sure, he had known the thrill of victory . . . many times! David could have thought back to all those occasions where God had shown Himself mighty on his behalf . . . before wild animals . . . before arrogant giants . . . before enemy armies. But now his spirit fainted within him . . . as did those memories.. He was trapped . . . the victor was now in desperate need of deliverance from his persecutors.

And sure, he was a man of many promises. Anointed by the prophet . . . promised to one day reign . . . waiting for when the time was right to ascend to the throne. But now, right now, there was no thought of a future kingdom, just the oppressive darkness of a cave . . . a dark abandoned cave. A cave where no one took notice . . . a place that offered no real refuge . . . a prison where “no one cares for my soul.” And it was there, in the cave, that David prayed.

With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before Him; I tell my trouble before Him. . . . I cry to You, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me! Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to Your name! The righteous will surround me, for You will deal bountifully with me.    (Psalm 142:1-2, 5-7 ESV)

I’m guessing we all have known a cave at one time or another. Gloomy places . . . places where it’s hard to see a way out . . . places where we can feel so alone that only the echoes off of a cold wall keep us company. Places where, even if we could see a way out, we’re pretty sure it would be more dangereous out there than in here. Something about caves that saps our strength . . . both physical and mental. And it’s in these places where, by the grace of God and through the groaning intercession of the Spirit, we need to do perhaps the only thing we can do . . . cry out to the LORD . . . with our voices, plead for mercy and deliverance.

David would spill out all his anxieties . . . and he would spell out all his distress. Not because he thought God wasn’t aware of His situation . . . but because He knew God was . . .

When my spirit faints within me, You know my way!    (Psalm 142:3a ESV)

And so He would cry out, in faith, to the One he trusted as His refuge . . . the One, who when everything else seemed removed, was David’s “portion” in the land of the living . . . even when that land was but a small plot of dirt in a dark cave. Though the cave was where he hid . . . God was the ground on which He stood. Though it was dark and gloomy . . . the LORD had promised to be his light. Though his surroundings drained him of all his energy . . . Jehovah would be his strength. Though he had been brought very low . . . He believed His deliver would again lift him up. And so David prayed, and would later put to music, cave prayers.

He looked beyond his earthly circumstance towards His heavenly Father. He forced his mind beyond the hopelessness of the situation and back to the promises of His God. He anticipated, with all his heart, that time when his cry of despair would give way to offerings of thanksgiving. He believed that the cold walls which enveloped him, would soon give way to the righteous surrounding him. All because He knew the God who had promised to deal bountifully with him.

Cave prayers aren’t easy prayers. O’, but that by the mercies and lovingkindness of God, we would know such songs in the night . . . and then, joy in the morning.

By His grace . . . for His glory . . .

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