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Cave Dwelling

Overview of Cave Psalms 34, 57, 142


Cave Psalm Headings

Psalm 34—Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left. (See I Sam. 22:1aff)

Psalm 142–Of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.

Psalm 57–Of David. For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam. When he had fled from Saul into the cave.

  • What did the tune “Do Not Destroy” sound like?
  • Whatʼs miktam? Psalm 16; 56-60: meaning is hidden
  • Whatʼs happened? Isnʼt David anointed to be king…?

Summary: David is in a very low state; he relates his condition to God - the anguish of his soul. These are masterpieces of honesty/faith.


Cave Principles–Psalm 57

Cave Principle #1: Caves reveal our true need and Godʼs care—v. 1.

Psalm 57:1—“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”

  • If we stop whining and look to God in our circumstance, weʼll discover not only His care, but also our need.
  • Caves reveal things that may have been in our lives for some time, but only surface under the pressure, the loneliness, and the stark conditions of the cave.
  • As the Lord gives us MERCY, then the cave is “potentially” transformed from a prison to a place of (soul) care in disaster.
  • “Refuge” is a poignant word and means a place of protection, security and secrecy “…in YOU.” (Itʼs Godʼs care!!!) The messenger? (Birds) “…in the shadow of your wings…”

Summary: God changes our cave of isolation and fear into a place of refuge – to experience the shadow of His wings, His love and protection. How about those in a cave today?

Cave Principle #2: Caves enable Godʼs purposes to ultimately be seen more clearly—v. 2.

Psalm 57:2—“I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.” (Rom. 8:28)

  • Caves not only reveal Godʼs care, they help us remember how God has helped us in the past, and therefore assist in enabling us to restate our expectation for the future—v. 2.
  • Godʼs purposes are ultimately seen, BUT not always initially understood; the dark can affect our vision, memory/perspective.
  • Our spiritual sight can also be obstructed by our pride, selfishness and misunderstanding of how God works. Sometimes when weʼre too close we donʼt have the perspective we need. But once we adjust to the light of who God is, we begin to see more clearly! v. 2.

Cave Principle #3: Caves make visible…Godʼs Provision; Godʼs Protection; Godʼs Presence.

Psalm 57:3—“He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; Selah God sends his love and his faithfulness” (see v. 6b, too).

  • Sometimes we have to participate in certain practices (spiritual health habits) for that vision to be seen more clearly.
  • David practiced spiritual disciplines in the cave and that helped him see even more clearly! Itʼs the ministry of the interior: Worship, confession, meditating on Jesus, thanksgiving, memorizing Scripture, journal/reflective writing, intercession for others, prayer for our needs

Summary: Simplicity, silence/solitude, surrender, spiritual disciplines, special friends.


Cave Practices– Psalm 57

Specific Responses Called For

  1. Honestly state our condition to God—vv. 4,6; 142:2
    • Sometimes we UNDERSTATE (poorly state) our condition
    • Other times we OVERSTATE (exaggerate)
    • The best is to ACCURATELY STATE—vv. 4,6

      Summary: Psychologically, spiritually, physically; it
      ʼs important for us to be honest with God. Psalm 32:3—"When I kept silent..."

  2. Seek Godʼs glory above all things—vv. 5,11

    Summary: This appears to be the chorus of the Psalm/song. This should be our primary
    reaction in caves. Itʼs the first, the highest, most helpful thing to do.

  3. Be steadfast/focused—v. 7a. We can be confused/ineffective if weʼre considering too many issues or people at the same time. If we become tenaciously steadfast on primary issues and give our attention on who God is and wants, weʼre more at peace and we understand ourselves better, too.

  4. Speak to ourselves about praise and then do it—vv. 7b-9 (see Ps. 42:5,11). The psalmist often spoke to himself and then responded back. (Itʼs healthy to talk to ourselves.) Here heʼs not only speaking to himself, heʼs speaking to the instruments around him!

  5. Recall Godʼs attributes—vv. 3b,10. Psalm 57 wonderfully notes Godʼs characteristics and attributes in the form of praise. Are they in our praise? They spotlight who God is/bring light to our caves/soul. Plant a garden of praise and sing the songs represented—vv. 1-4.


Cave Perspectives

  1. Caves are universally visited—Psalm 34:19; 1 Peter 4:12. We donʼt always know the reason: it could be our sin; someone elseʼs sin; or we havenʼt the slightest idea; but whatever, letʼs find God in the trouble—Psalm 34:7,15,18.

  2. Caves will make us and break us—Psalm 34:18; 51:17. Itʼs in the cave under pressure, our strengths may become weaknesses and our weaknesses strengths, e.g., David was noted as a man of great trickery and cunning. (Were these strengths?) Stretching moments reveal weaknesses so they can be dealt with, and hone strengths so they donʼt become weaknesses.

  3. Cave disciplines need to be maintained. Disciplines that begin in the cave so we can survive, need to continue so we can grow—Psalm 34:1-4; 57:5,7-11. If it was necessary for Jesus to maintain His course (He who was perfect, God in human flesh), what does that say about us? Sometimes we forget the RICHNESS OF THE CAVE, the wonderful relationship thatʼs developed in that crucible.

  4. Cave experiences need to be written down and/or shared—Psalm 34:11-14. Thatʼs certainly what the three CAVE PSALMS are all about. Even before David is through his stretching experiences, he is sharing what he is learning—Psalm 34:11-14. Likewise, we should record and share what God is doing in our lives, too. Why? So others can benefit, and so we will remember the lessons, the Lordʼs help, and His presence in our caves.

  5. Caves reveal our friends and our enemies (they take the initiative)—Psalm 57:4,6; 142:4-7. Our enemies (those not for us) will capitalize on weak moments and often move in to hurt us/or damage our reputation. True friends/family will take the helpful initiative toward us: CAVES REVEAL AND EVEN STRAIGHTEN FRIENDSHIPS! (See I Samuel 21:1b-2.)


CONCLUSIONPsalm 34, 57, 142

  1. We all need Safe Places. Psalm 57:1—“I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
  2. We all need Still Times. 57:7-8a—“My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. 8] Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.”
  3. We all need Special Friends. Psalm 142:7—“Then the righteous will gather about me…” (See 1 Sam. 22:1-2.) This is what caves can mean to us, too - theyʼre safe, still and bring special friends. Psalm 142:7—“Set me free from my prison (safe place), that I may praise your name (still times). Then the righteous will gather about me (special friends) because of your goodness to me.”