Far too many of us are marked by topsy-turvy lives—rushing from one appointment to another, feeling that time is short, commitments are growing, and the mantra of “hurry! faster! quick!” yells at us from behind.
Pressures mount. Stress increases. Trouble presses in. Temptations loom.
We feel as if the enemy of our souls is racing after us, inclined to do us harm.
Where is our hope? Where is our refuge? Where do we go in the midst of trouble?
There is a story in the Old Testament which may seem a bit bizarre but it contains the secret to our questions above.
The book of 1 Samuel is filled with many epic stories but the main storyline is that of a little shepherd boy (David) who has been anointed to rule Israel in the stead of King Saul. Saul has a growing hatred for David and actively seeks him out to kill the threat.
At this point in the story, King Saul hears that David went to a place called Keilah and thus “Saul called all the people together for war, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men” (1 Samuel 23:8).
David finds out about the plot and takes his 600 men to escape in the wilderness—which in Israel is what we would call a desert. After a few near misses, it says: “Then David went up from there and dwelt in strongholds at En Gedi” (1 Samuel 23:29).
En Gedi is the largest oasis found on the western side of the Dead Sea. The name literally means “the spring of the kid (goat)” and evidence shows that young ibex has always lived near the springs of En Gedi (there are still some there today).
En Gedi is reportedly the place where they also made the incense for the temple in Jerusalem (a combination of 11 spices). The place was known for perform and incense and it is said that a single family carried the secret of how to make the temple incense and kept it under “lock and key” in a fortress-workshop location within En Gedi.
The reason this location is so significant for our story is that throughout En Gedi there are thousands of caves—thus a great place for David and his men to hide from Saul. Additionally, there are two natural springs that flow through En Gedi thus providing an adequate source of water amidst the wilderness surroundings.
The story continues …
Now it happened, when Saul had returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, “Take note! David is in the Wilderness of En Gedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats. So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. (David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.) Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’ ” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. And he said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.” So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way. David also arose afterward, went out of the cave, and called out to Saul, saying, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed down. And David said to Saul: “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm’? “Look, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’ “Moreover, my father, see! Yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and I have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it.…” (1 Samuel 24:1-11).
After Saul releases his life was in the hands of David, yet was spared, he declared: “You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil. … And now I know indeed that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand” (1 Samuel 24:17, 20).
Find Yourself in En Gedi
At this point you may still be wondering how this story actually helps you at all. How does it give understanding to where we find hope, refuge, and safety.
Yet do you not see that David and his men found themselves in the safety of the rock, within a fortress if you will. They easily could have been found out (Saul was right in front of them) yet the Lord protected them.
The enemy was beckoning at the front door yet peace was found within. David knew that God would deal with Saul in His own timing, and had confidence that His life and position would be preserved. David hid himself and his men within the fortress (a cave) within En Gedi—and what appeared to be a barren wilderness was actually the place of rescue, triumph, and victory.
What if we realized that we too have a position—in Christ. Countless times throughout the New Testament (33 times specifically in the first three chapters of Ephesians) it is declared that my place and position is to be IN Christ Jesus. He is my refuge and my strength, He is the horn of my salvation—in fact, what the Psalmists declared about God is fulfilled in the Person of Jesus. He is our rock, our fortress, and our peace. And it is only when we find ourselves IN Him that we discover that even with our enemy at the cave’s door, we are safe, secure, and can stand confidently with hope.
The Psalmists Declare
In case you need encouragement and assurance of such cave-dwelling security in Christ, look at these passages in Psalms and realize that they are not merely talking about some arbitrary place or reality but in its fullest expression, they are talking about Christ:
- Psalm 9.9-10: The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.
- Psalm 28.8: The LORD is their strength, And He is the saving refuge of His anointed.
- Psalm 46.1-3: God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
- Psalm 62.8: Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah
- Psalm 91.1-7: He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.
Take some time and explore the book of Psalms for all the references of Jesus being our Rock, our security, our hope, our fortress, our fortress. Read the Epistles of the New Testament and realize that our position is IN Christ Jesus.
David was running for his life, the enemy encroaching at his door, yet he found himself safe in the midst of En Gedi.
Whatever you are facing today, whatever is stalking at the door, you too can find safety and refuge in Jesus—your personal En Gedi.