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A Prayer from the Cave (Psalm 34)

A Prayer from the Cave (Psalm 34)

What do you think of when you imagine a cave? Darkness? The sound of water dripping from the ceiling? Mysterious animals scurrying about the cave floor? If you were alone inside a cave, would you be afraid?

David was in a cave. And afraid. Yes, the warrior king, the man after God’s own heart, the giant slayer, the master of weapons. That David.

He was in Adullam, thirteen miles west of Bethlehem, almost to the Philistine border. In 1 Samuel 19–22, we read of the events that led him here. First, he fled from Saul by escaping from his house and going to the home of Samuel. Then, after he thought he had found safety at the tabernacle in Nob, he had to run again because Saul’s hired soldier Doeg, an Edomite, had tracked him there.

After David fled to the land of the Philistines, they recognized him as the one who had killed their hero Goliath. He escaped from King Achish by pretending to be a madman who “scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard” (1 Sam. 21:13). The king kicked David out of the country for fear of having a man who was cursed by the gods bring evil to the land.

Now David sat in the cave. All alone. He had no home. He had no food unless he still had some of the showbread given to him at the tabernacle by the priest Ahimelech. Most importantly, he had lost his faith temporarily. Instead of trusting in God, he had tried to escape danger through his own efforts. But God was in the cave with him, and David realized this by grace. David prayed, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me” (Ps. 34:4).

Sometimes it is easiest to describe God in human terms, even though God is a spirit and doesn’t have a body. David felt God’s presence because “the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry” (v. 15). Even though God doesn’t have eyes or ears, he allows us to understand who he is through the human description. When we do this, it’s a big word called anthropomorphism.

Again, in verse 17, David exclaimed, “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth.” You can almost feel the faith and strength of David building up as you read this. David was now confident in his deliverance. Can you hear his renewed faith in God? He blessed the Lord and praised him (v. 1), his soul boasted in the Lord (v. 2), and he magnified the Lord and exalted his name (v. 3).

In verse 6, David summed up his situation this way: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” How did God do this? He sent people to help David. In 1 Samuel 22:1–2, we read that David’s parents and brothers went to him at the cave. “They looked on him and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed” of him (Ps. 34:5). God also sent a ragtag group of outcasts to be his support and protection: four hundred distressed men in debt, dissatisfied and exiled by King Saul because they loved and supported David. These men would become his mighty men of valor and would be with him throughout his future reign as king.

Here’s the question for you, young Christian: are you alone in your own cave? Maybe you feel like an outcast at school. Maybe someone you love is sick with an illness that could lead to death. Maybe you feel uneasiness about the turmoil happening in your church. Do you carry a secret in you, a burden no one else knows about? Remember, the eyes of the Lord are watching you. His ears are open to your cry, and he will hear you.

This psalm has comforted God’s people throughout church history. About 1,075 years after David wrote Psalm 34 from the cave of Adullam, the apostle Peter quoted it in his first epistle, written to Jews fleeing persecution and scattered throughout Asia Minor: “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers” (1 Pet. 3:12).


Sing together Psalter 90:2
O magnify the Lord with me,
Let us to praise His Name agree;
I sought the Lord, He answered me,
And from my fears He set me free.

You've just finished a sample chapter of Journey Through the Psalms, a thirty-day devotional for ages 9-13 by Mike Velthouse and Erinn Kuiper. Like what you read? You can order a copy of the book here or by clicking the image above. Plus, visit on Friday, June 28, 2024, to enter your name in a giveaway for 1 of 10 free copies!

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