David and Adullam’s cave

Adullam’s cave, a place that is mentioned in 1 Samuel in the Old Testament, was found in Juda, in the mountain area, in a no man’s land between Juda and the area of the Philistines. lt was an underground cave system some 10 kilometers from Bethlehem. The cave was surrounded by a beautiful landscape.

The Hebrew word Adullam means ”refuge”. The cave is mentioned in a story about David and some of his new soldiers. We read: ”David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; when his brothers and all his father’s house heard of it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred” (1 Sam. 22:1-2).

Perhaps David had found these caves when he was young and took care of the sheep. Maybe he had thought that he would hide there when needed? On the way to the cave he passed the place where he had fought Goliath. Imagine how fast things change: One day you are a hero that has won a huge battle, another day you are a man who needs to flee and hide.

David writes at least two of his psalms in Adullam,s cave. It is quite amazing: he creates something in the cave, he does not hide in one of the corners, silent, angry and frustrated because he has to flee. He, who does not know anything about the future often seems to be in some kind of carefreeness. He writes songs and worships God. He also expresses his worries and his frustration – everything is put into words. Here, in Adullam’s cave, he writes: ”My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make melody” (57:7). The song seems to have an immediate effect on his life. It lifts him, it puts the focus somewhere else than the circumstances. It is not heavy or focused on the problems, it proclaims the greatness of God. We need many of those songs, also new ones.

But – David is not just singing in the cave. He raises up a leadership team of the people in the cave. The 400 he has there are quite negative, the text says they were in distress,  they were in debt and they were discontented. They were, in other words, not a group of positive men, easy to work with. But David chooses them and makes something else of their lives. They seem to rise. I believe this is our calling as a people of God: those we have around us do not need to stay the way they are, maybe tired, frustrated, angry. Visions and pictures of the future, visions that God has given, can change the direction and spread meaningfulness. 

In the beginning of the 1980s, an Adullam’s cave was created in my hometown Kokkola. The house that some believers started to rent in the corner of the streets Strandgatan and Långbrogatan, got the name Adullam’s cave. It was an old building that became a house of prayer for the believers in town, a place of protection and a place to hide for all who wanted to draw near to God. I still remember this place with warmth.

We need these kind of places. We need places that create vision and shows people another direction forward, another than the negative. I hope you have found that kind of a place.