May 1.—Morning. [Or August 29.]
“This man receiveth sinners.”
1 Samuel 22:1, 2
FINDING himself in great danger among the Philistines, David returned to his own land, which he ought never to have left.
1 David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: (where he found huge caverns capable of affording shelter and concealment for large numbers of persons. There David was in his right position, and might look for prosperity. He was in the place of separation, where believers should be found:) and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him.
2 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: and there were with him about four hundred men.
In this he became a type of our Lord Jesus, of whom it was said, “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.” David’s followers had been rendered desperate by the oppressions of Saul, but though they were bold and warlike men, they do not appear to have been evil in character; rather from their sympathy with David, and their general conduct, we may believe them to have been the best men in the kingdom, who, from that very cause, had been impoverished by Saul’s spiteful treatment. Those who side with Jesus must expect to be treated as he was, and if this drives us into closer fellowship with our despised and rejected Lord, so much the better.
It was at this time that some of his boldest followers joined him.
1 Chronicles 11:15–19
15, 16, 17, 18, 19 Now three of the thirty captains went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam; and the host of the Philistines encamped in the valley of Rephaim. And David was then in the hold, and the Philistines’ garrison was then at Beth-lehem. And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Beth-lehem, that is at the gate! And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the Lord, And said, My God forbid it me, that I should do this thing: shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy? for with the jeopardy of their lives they brought it. Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mightiest. (This brave act showed the enthusiastic devotion of David’s warriors. They were willing to gratify his smallest wish at the risk of their lives. In such a spirit ought the Lord Jesus to be served by us. David’s refusal to drink shewed his tenderness for human life, and revealed one of the sources of his influence over his men. Our great Captain is yet more considerate and com passionate. O to love him more!)
1 Chronicles 11:10–14
There came to David during the days of his wanderings several other brave men, some of whose exploits are recorded.
10 ¶ These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened them selves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel.
11 And this is the number of the mighty men whom David had; Jashobeam, an Hachmonite, the chief of the captains: he lifted up his spear against three hundred slain by him at one time.
12 And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighties.
13, 14 He was with David at Pas-dammim, and there the Philistines were gathered together to battle, where was a parcel of ground full of barley; and the people fled from before the Philistines. And they set themselves in the midst of that parcel, and delivered it, and slew the Philistines; and the Lord saved them by a great deliverance.
The honours of Christ’s kingdom are for those who can fight and suffer, not for idle professors and pretenders. The wonders wrought by these men were due to divine power, and that same might is ready to aid us in all holy conflicts and labours. At the last it will be thought the highest of all honours to have been associated with the Lord Jesus in his humiliations and reproaches. Who among us will take part with Christ in this evil generation, and go without the camp to him, bearing his reproach? Whose name shall the recording angel place upon the roll this day? Will not this house yield a man for Jesus?
May 1.—Evening. [Or August 30.]
“Thou art my refuge.”
WE will now read two of David’s cave psalms. He has left behind him the footprints of his wanderings, in his sacred songs. Many record their lives by successive murmurings and rebellions, David by hymns and prayers.
Maschil of David (or an instructive Psalm); A Prayer when he was in the cave.
1 I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication.
2 I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. (In his lonely wanderings he made the woods and caverns echo with his prayers.)
“The calm retreat, the silent shade,
With prayer and praise agree,
And seem by thy kind bounty made
For those who worship thee.”
3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.
But since God knew his path, he was not taken in their snares. We owe eternal praises to the Lord for keeping us out of the hands of our enemies.
4 I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.
5 I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.
6 Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. (In the worst times all is well if we do not lose our faith in the Lord. No matter how powerful our enemies, we shall overcome if we cling to the divine arm.)
7 Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me. (Very soon, good men and true mustered in great numbers under David’s command, and he was no more left in utter loneliness, but became a powerful leader. The Lord can find us friends when we are friendless.)
LET us now read:—
A Psalm of David.
1 Lord, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.
2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (As David could not go to the tabernacle to offer sacrifice and incense, he felt that his prayers would be accepted instead thereof. If we are forced to stay at home on the Lord’s day we should none the less worship the Lord in our hearts. The acceptance of prayer and praise does not depend upon place. True spiritual worship even in a cave, is far better than the finest formal service, though offered in a cathedral.)
3 Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.
4 Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.
Even in his lowest case he did not wish to be as the wicked are when at their best.
5 Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
It needs great grace to give reproofs aright, but it needs more to take them aright. Wise men are thankful when their errors are pointed out to them; but, alas! wise men are few.
6 When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet. (When the world is bitter the word is sweet. Those who care not for us now may be glad of our comfort in their distress.)
7 Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth. (He was like wood broken and split up for the fire; he felt that he and his followers were devoted to death, yet he turned to God with hope.)
8, 9 But mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute. Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape. (His prayer was heard. He was preserved, and even so shall all believers be, if they will but repose their souls upon the faithfulness of God. All is well if faith be firm.)
Fierce burning coals of juniper,
And arrows of the strong,
Await those false and cruel tongues
Which do the righteous wrong.
But as for me my song shall rise
Before Jehovah’s throne,
For he has seen my deep distress,
And hearken’d to my groan.
In vain the powers of darkness try
To work the church’s ill,
The Friend of sinners reigns on high,
And checks them at his will.
Though mischief in their hearts may dwell,
And on their tongues deceit,
A word of his their pride can quell,
And all their aims defeat.
My trust is in his grace alone;
His house shall be my home,
How sweet his mercies past to own,
And hope for more to come.
Oh! taste and see that God is good,
And that his saints are blest;
Grace never can be understood
Till in the heart it rest.
Oh! trust the Lord, desponding saint;
Of all that to him flee,
There’s none hath ever been in want,
And none shall ever be.
Captain of our soul’s salvation,
Perfect made thyself in woe,
Thou didst seek no reputation
When thou wast with man below:
’Mid the lowest,
’Mid the vilest thou didst go.
They whose ills were most distressing,
They who were of sinners chief,
Gladly sought thy gracious blessing,
Ran to thee for sure relief:
Thou didst bless them—
Thou didst carry all their grief.
All with heavy debts embarrassed,
Who no hope of pardon see,
All with fears of judgment harass’d,
Look for help, O Lord, to thee:
Thou dost freely
Welcome all who come to thee.
I bow towards thy mercy-seat:
Haste, Lord, thy servant haste to meet,
To thee, addressed, my sorrows rise;
Lord, bend thine ear, accept my cries.
O let my prayer before thee come,
Sweet as the censer’s fragrant fume;
And may the hands, which thus I rear,
An evening sacrifice appear!
O glorious hour! O blest abode!
I shall be near and like my God;
And flesh and sin no more control
The sacred pleasures of my soul.
My flesh shall slumber in the ground,
’Till the last trumpet’s joyful sound;
Then burst the chains with sweet surprise,
And in my Saviour’s image rise.
 Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 253–255). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.