The Cave of Adullam
1 Samuel 22:1, 2
David therefore departed there, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brothers and all his father's house heard it…

David knew well that he could nevermore live in safety at the court of Saul. He would not raise a hand against his king and father-in-law, but he would not place himself again within his reach. Better a free life even in deserts and caves of the earth than a life in constant peril in ceiled houses. Behold him then in the cave of Adullam.

I. THE CAPTAIN OF THE REFUGEES. No question arises here respecting the right of revolt against a perverse, tyrannical king. We entirely believe in such a right, because the king exists for the good of the people, not the people for the service of the king. We have no misgiving as to the right of the British nation to rid itself of King James II, or that of the people in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies to drive away King Francis II. But the case of Saul's royalty over Israel was unique. The people had chosen him by acclamation, and there was no proof as yet that the mass of the people wished to dethrone him. Even if they had so wished, David was not the man to lead their revolt; for it was one of the tests of his fitness for the succession that he should not snatch at the honour to which he was destined, but wait the evolution of the Divine purpose, recognising God only as the true and absolute King of Israel. Therefore, what he did at this period was simply for preservation of himself and his relatives. The times were "out of joint," and he had no protection of law or civil order against the mad suspicions of the king. So he took refuge in a cavern, waiting for God and hoping in his word. The hero raised no standard of revolt, and drew no followers by prospect of plunder or revenge. Yet he did draw hundreds of the men of Israel to his place of refuge. These must not be likened to the riotous and desperate followers of Catiline, or even to the "empty persons" who attached themselves to Jephthah. Doubtless there may have been among the young men some who were more adventurous than devout, and cared for their leader's sword and spear more than for his psalms; but they were in general young men of patriotic temper who had suffered damage through the misrule of the time, and found the public disorder and tyranny intolerable. They turned their wistful eyes towards one who had borne himself wisely in the station he had occupied, and from whom they hoped for a just and prudent administration of public affairs. There are parallels to this position in the history of other nations; but most worthy of our thought is the parallel of the great Son of David, our Lord Jesus Christ. When he was a young man in Galilee the people were distressed under their rulers. The civil government was oppressive; the religious surveillance by the chief priests and elders was worse. Heavy burdens were imposed without pity, and grievous abuses of power and office were committed. The eyes of many had failed them, looking long for a deliverer who should be the Consolation of Israel. Then appeared Jesus of Nazareth, raising no standard of revolt, indeed refusing to be made a king by the voice of the multitude, while himself under the evident displeasure of the authorities, and exposed to frequent risks of arrest and death. But to him followers repaired, and they were welcome. Jesus called to him the labouring and heavy laden. He had powerful attraction for all who were distressed. And from the day when he took up a position apart from the rulers of the Jews, though he headed no movement of resistance, it became more and more obvious that those rulers had lost the favour of Jehovah, and had nothing before them but thickening disaster and a final collapse of their power like that of Saul on Mount Gilboa. The only hope of Israel thenceforth was with and in the despised and rejected One who had been born in David's city and of David's line. So it is still. It is Jesus Christ, as rejected of men, humbled, crucified, who appeals to human hearts. Who will go out to him, "without the camp, bearing his reproach"? Who will repair to him at the cave of Adullam? Not the proud, nor the thoughtless, nor the self-satisfied; but the distressed, the ruined, and the bereaved will go; and over such he is willing to be Captain. Let them come to him, and his life is thenceforward bound up with theirs, and theirs with his. With him they are "in safeguard" till the end of the tribulation; and when the King appears in his great power these will appear with him in glory; the trials of Adullam more than recompensed by the joys of New Jerusalem.

II. THE POSITION OF SEPARATION. When is it justified? David and his followers went apart from the common life of their countrymen, and renounced all idea of rendering service or occupying any post of honour under Saul. Jesus Christ and his disciples broke with the course of the Jewish and Galilean world in which they lived, and took up a position quite aloof from the priests, elders, and scribes. What is the duty of modern Christians towards the society around them? Are they to come out and be separate? Some persons have almost a craze for separation, and support it on this story of Adullam. They hold it to be the duty of Christians to stand aloof from all the existing order of things, and all the plans and occupations of society; to accept no office in the State, and be subject to the powers that be only in the sense in which David continued subject to Saul; and to come out from all organised historical Churches, on the ground that they contain worldly elements and principles, and are therefore impure and ready to perish. All this seems to us extravagant in theory and uncharitable in spirit. Separation from evil does not mean alienation from every place and every institution in which a fault can be found. For good men to hold aloof from public affairs is simply to play into the hands of evil doers; and to separate from every Church that has a faulty element in it is to disintegrate Christian society, and miserably embitter it in the process. But we must hold the balance true. It may be one's duty to separate himself from institutions of both Church and State under which he was born. As to civil institutions, this is plain enough. As to ecclesiastical relations, there are critical times when, as it was right for Israelites to separate from Saul and go over to David, so it has been and is right for Christians to withdraw from positions which they could not correct or amend, and go over to some simpler and purer expression of their faith and hope. On this ground we justify without hesitation the erection of reformed Churches in the sixteenth century apart from the unreformed. The Papal system had a long trial, and was found wanting. Such men as Wickliffe, Savonarola, and Huss tried to correct its errors and rouse a new spirit within its pale, just as David played on his harp to cure the mania of King Saul. It was labour lost. That which was evil grew worse. The tyranny which hung over Western Christendom became intolerable. Then they did wisely and well who threw off the yoke and began afresh, with the word of God for their directory, and the Son of God, who became Son of David, for their Captain. On the same ground we justify those who now a days break away from the same Papal infallible, and therefore incurable, system to join or to organise a reformed Church. And we add that those who do so in a Roman Catholic country, like Spain or Italy, to worship with some small evangelical congregation in a hall, mocked and despised, show a courage not at all inferior to that of the four hundred who defied the power of Saul, and flocked around David in the cave of Adullam. Those men did not lift their swords against Saul. David did not desire them to do so. He saw something still to honour in that king, and knew that the throne would be vacated without any assistance from him. So, in that system of infatuation and spiritual tyranny which centres at Rome, there is something of that common Christianity which we must reverence, and against which we may not fight. While we expose its errors, let us always acknowledge whatever of the truth of God it contains, and be patient. Ultimately that system must perish. As the Philistines, and not the followers of David, made an end of Saul, so the democratic infidelity, not the reformed Church, is likely to make an end of the Papacy, and all the religious delusion and oppression of the Latin Church. Happy they who are in a fellowship which gives them direct access to the Lord Jesus, and has in him the living centre and the joy of all. O Saviour, draw us to thyself, and be thou a Captain over us! - F.

Parallel Verses
KJV: David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him.

WEB: David therefore departed there, and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him.

David's Refuge and Following
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