Gifts from Engedi

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. God equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.” Psalm 18:2-3,17-19,30,32,35

David, anointed but not yet crowned king, is in the wilderness, prey hunted by a jealous, capricious King Saul. Engedi is snarly, rough, and a cave would offer welcome relief from the heat but an uncertain security, and there David hid from Saul and his army five times the number of his own… Heart thumping, please don’t echo… the royal entourage is coming in heavily… and Saul stops. Do I take him out, this crazed pursuer? No, he is God’s anointed, and God’s time and ways are perfect. I shall prove my loyalty to my sovereign.

He said to his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord‘s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord‘s anointed.’ So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way. Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, ‘My lord the king!’ And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage.” 1 Samuel 24:6-8 

It was the wilderness of Engedi that manifested the grace of God– His enabling of David’s heart to trust, his hands to do the right thing, his development as a strong, patient, and persuasive leader of his troops, his tongue to extol his divine Protector and LORD. David’s ‘training’ in Engedi was actually divine water to the weary soul of the hunted– not his choice, but God’s benevolent necessity as He prepared him to lead Israel. He wrote at least two psalms from this experience, 57 and 142.

Almighty Master, lead me with steadfast heart to Your waterfall in the wilderness, Your merciful refuge in the storm, Your song in the dark caves, Your way of escape when under attack. Keep me trusting that You are working out Your purpose for me in every Engedi. (Psalm 57:7; 77:6; 1 Corinthians 10:13)

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