A Longing For Justice

By Roger Penney

Some Bible scholars believe “Adullam” means “justice of the people” or “a resting place.” Strong’s concordance suggests that the meaning is uncertain. In view of the type of people who came there and put their trust in David, we may be right in accepting both definitions. “And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them” (1 Sam. 22:1-2 KJV). Even though David was on the run from his jealous enemy, King Saul, who wanted to kill him, the people came to David because he gave them hope for a better future.

David was a refuge for those who suffered injustice then. Now we who are victims of injustice or who are despised and rejected by this world have found safety, justice, love and truth with our Lord Jesus Christ. We have fled to Him for refuge (Heb. 6:18) and have heard His loving words of comfort: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).

This world is a place of injustice, without regard for the weak, poor or those of no reputation. It is a place of evil where the Devil, the enemy of God and man, rules through fear (1 Jn. 5:19). But the Lord has and is preparing a place for us. “In My Father’s house are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go … I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:2-3).

A Place Of Eternal Rest 
The Father’s house is a place of eternal rest, but even now the Lord is with us and will never leave nor forsake us (see Heb. 13:5-6). We know that where He is there is peace and justice. Indeed we are assured that on this earth in a day to come it will be said, “Judgment runs down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24).

We find in Scripture the place where the Lord Jesus has chosen to be, promising “where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20, see Dt. 12:5-6). There is no better, happier and holier place!

A little later in 1 Samuel we read that David sought for his parents a place of safety with the king of Moab. This may tell us something of David’s status at the time as a young man and formidable war leader. Recognized as such by the kings of the surrounding nations, it is likely that they were anxious to win his favor as a rival to Saul. Perhaps they thought a competition for Saul’s throne would throw Israel into anarchy, and then they could advance their own claims to Israel’s territory. Whatever their ideas, the kings of Moab, Ammon and the Philistine Confederacy were not friends of Israel.

“Great” men look with contempt on the poor, powerless and ill-educated. However Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, assures us that God chooses differently. “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought the things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence” (1:26-29). God’s presence is a “cave of Adullam” indeed, and it is where we belong.

David’s Influence 
David brought about a great change in the outcasts and discontented. They became his mighty men, many of whose names are recorded as being loyal to him and loving him. We do not know how we shall be found at the final reckoning of believers, but maybe we will be rewarded in that day by the recognition of the valor of the King of Kings.

All of David’s mighty men had done deeds of outstanding military skill and courage, but three also demonstrated a love, loyalty and devotion for David which demands our admiration. Possibly David’s throat was parched, or perhaps he was in a nostalgic mood as he remembered days of his boyhood in Bethlehem. Whatever the reason, “David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, that is at the gate! And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem” (1 Chr. 11:17-18). This apparently most foolhardy of errands was undertaken by these incredibly brave men who later distinguished themselves in battle. However, it is this comparatively insignificant incident which God’s Spirit has chosen to record. God delights to see men and women honor the Lord Jesus and show their commitment to Him by even small, yet significant acts of love and devotion.

We should obey in all the things the Lord shows He wants us to do. For one, seemingly small matter, the Lord gave a demonstration to teach His disciples. After taking the position of the humblest slave and washing His disciples’ feet, the Lord encouraged them as He encourages us: “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done” (Jn. 13:15). There must be hundreds of little favors that we can do for our brothers and sisters in Christ by which we may learn humility and Christ-likeness.

“Despise not the day of small things,” counseled Zechariah (Zech. 4:10). The Lord Jesus showed His approval when He commended the tiny act of kindness of giving a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple (Mt. 10:42). It is clear that such deeds truly make glad the heart of God, and the Lord Jesus may in them “see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied” (Isa. 53:11).

We are not immune from an egotistical or selfish lack of concern for the poor, weak and suffering. For example, how often have we forgotten or looked away from the plight of a homeless man or woman begging on the street?

The Enemy Encampment 
The Philistine enemies of the people of God were encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. These were of the race of monster beings from whom came the giant Goliath of Gath and his brothers. They were in time slain by David and his mighty men (2 Sam. 21:16-22; 1 Chr. 20:4-8).

We find these monstrous beings as early as Genesis 6, where they are called “Nephilim” or “Fallen Ones.” They were the result of an unholy marital alliance. Later, the lineages of giants are referred to as “Anakim” or “Rephaim,” depicting their extraordinary large stature. These people were enormous; and the spies sent by Moses to report on the land gave a frightened report which cast doubt in the Israel’s mind as to God’s ability to lead them to victory (Gen. 6:1-4; Num. 13:30-33). The valley was especially sinister, presumably because of the residents’ size and hatred of the things of God. This is pictured by the name “Rephaim,” which means “fearful.”

Soldiers Of The King 
We need to take courage, realizing that the One who recruited us is the Lord Jesus, the King of Kings. He will most certainly lead us to conquer all the enemies who attack and seek to be master over us. Paul’s words to Timothy suggest physical, mental, emotional and spiritual toughness brought about by hard training. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:3-4). We are soldiers and we must train hard, for without hard training we cannot hope to win the battles we must fight.

Roman generals often recruited their own legions, and the men were fanatically loyal to a popular leader such as Julius Caesar or Vespasian – during Paul’s lifetime. The soldiers, loyal to their leaders and comrades, trained with wooden swords filled with lead that were twice as heavy as the ones used in combat. Imagine hacking away at a post with such a sword for hours on end while the centurion in charge of recruit training gave any slacker a thrashing with his vine stick. Should we train any less in a spiritual sense for our Leader who has bought us with His own blood? Can we allow ourselves to become spiritually soft and flabby – useless in both war and peace?

The men who came to David developed into a formidable fighting force. His mighty men were the discontented, debtors and outcasts. So too are we: the weak, poor and foolish. But we can likewise train to be mighty in the Lord if we so commit ourselves to Him.

Thoughts During A Time Of Testing And Trouble 
Although David sought refuge in the cave of Adullam, he actually found it in the God of Israel. David cried out, “O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in Thee” (Ps. 57:1). This psalm is one of the Maschil psalms, which trace the experiences of the devoted Christian life with all its challenges, difficulties and, sometimes, failures. With confidence in the salvation of God, David exclaimed, “He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him who would swallow me up. Selah” (v.3). Think about that: although we are considering that David fled from Saul, it is likely that Satan saw David was descended directly from the line of the Promised Seed, the actual “seed of the woman” (Gen. 3:14-15). Therefore Satan was determined to “swallow” him up.

David was seen by Saul as his enemy, but it was Satan who worked on Saul’s jealous nature to make him hate David. The followers of our “David,” the Lord Jesus, are similarly marked out as enemies. This is why Psalm 57 has such a pull on our hearts. David said, “My soul is among lions … even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword” (v.4). He goes on however to express his confidence in God, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (v.7). Rather than a song of triumph, the psalm ends with the writer’s heart lifted up to God to glorify Him: “Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let Thy glory be above all the earth” (v.11).

Here we are brought by David into the inner thoughts of his soul while in the cave. We may also understand these musings to be the actual thoughts of the Lord Jesus, for these psalms are inspired of God to glorify His Son. May we worship Him.