The Cave of Adullam was no Holiday Inn.
It was a wicked refugee camp . . . a dark vault on the side of a cliff that reached deeply into a hill. Huddled in this clammy cavern were 400 losers—a mob of miserable humanity. They came from all over and wound up all together. Listen to the account:
Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered. . . . There were about four hundred men. (1 Samuel 22:2)
The original Mafia. They all had one thing in common—a bad record. The place smelled like the Rams' locker room and sounded like an Army barracks. You can bet not one of those guys ever heard Gothard's principles on handling irritations. They were so tough they'd make Al Capone sleep with a night-light. They were gross. Anybody who got near that gang stayed as quiet as a roomful of nuns. They had a quaint name for those who crossed their paths . . . victims.
Except for David. That's right. David. It became his responsibility to turn that mob into an organized, well-disciplined fighting force . . . mighty men of valor. Talk about a challenge! These weren't the filthy five, nor the nasty nine, nor the dirty dozen. Remember—there were 400 of these hard-luck hooligans. Shortly thereafter, their numbers swelled to 600. And David was the den mother for these desperados. He was general, master sergeant, and chaplain all rolled into one. David, "the sweet psalmist of Israel," became David the drill instructor. Needless to say, his battalion of 600 is not to be confused with the 600 who "rode into the valley of death" in Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade. The only place these guys had ridden was out of town, chased by their creditors . . . which turned David's men into predators.
Did he pull it off? Could a shepherd from Bethlehem assume command of such a nefarious band of ne'er-do-wells? Did he meet the challenge?
Indeed! In a brief period of time, he had the troops in shape—combat ready. Incredible as it seems, he was doing battle against the enemy forces using strategic maneuvers before the year was up. These were the very men who fought loyally by his side and gave him strong support when he became the king of Israel. They were called "the mighty men," and many of their names are listed in the Bible for heroism and dedication.
All of us face a challenge. For some of you, it's a business that has all the earmarks of disaster. For others, it's the challenge of schooling without adequate money, or a houseful of young lives to shape, or a wounded relationship, or a prolonged illness that lingers and hurts. Still others of you find yourself in leadership over a group of people who need constant direction and encouragement . . . and you're tired of the demands. Some of you endure employment in a company that lacks a lot.
Be encouraged! If David could handle that cave full of malcontents, you can tighten your belt and take on the challenge in your cave. Do you need strength? Peace? Wisdom? Direction? Discipline? Ask for it! God will hear you. He gives special attention to cries when they come out of caves.