The Third D: The State of Discontentment
Some of the men who met David at the cave were in debt and some were distressed. But probably all of them were discontented. The Hebrew word for discontent is mar, which means “to make bitter”; it also describes “the heart-crushing experience of family turmoil, impending death, or an unfulfilled death wish.” This kind of discontentment reaches right into the very soul of a man and wrenches him in his guts.
Interestingly, this meaning paints quite a picture of the person experiencing discontentment. David’s guys fit every aspect of this definition. They really had no future within their culture. They were bitter. They owed vast amounts of money to people who sought to collect their payment in property or in flesh. With a growing list of failures, these guys might have left behind families who were frustrated and actually thankful for their absence. Some might have left out of disdain for the evil monarch who was chasing David, and they wanted to go down fighting on the side of the giant killer in hiding.
Just Hanging On
These men were hanging on by their fingernails. They ran to hide, to collect their thoughts, to write their wills, and to do whatever desperate men do before life as they know it comes to an end. All in all, these guys had decided that if they were going to go down, they were going to go down swinging with David, their leader and “commander”:
All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him (1 Samuel 22:2).
The word for commander in 1 Samuel is an interesting term because it carries with it a sense of royalty or nobility. The word means much more than they took a vote and made him their leader. It means that they saw something in him. They sensed something on him.
I’m sure many had heard about Samuel anointing David years before. Others had seen him kill Goliath and knew that he had an uncanny and supernatural presence about him. And some might have just sensed that David was different. But these men realized they were at a crossroads in their lives. In the midst of all of their Ds—because of all their Ds—they had to be with this guy.
Real King. Real God.
David was their king. They were in the right cave, no doubt about it. He had followed the leading of his God, in spite of his brokenness, to a place of hiding and darkness.
At this point in history, the worship of Yahweh had grown cold, and David’s relationship with Him was unique. David knew God. David walked with God in a place of powerful fire, passionate tears, and relentless love. This must have been something that at the very least incited a deep curiosity in the 400. When they came to a place of despondency, they were drawn to the real king who had the real fire given to him by God.
Perhaps the real king would hear from God and save them from the assaults being waged upon them. The feeling that they got in their despondent and wrenched guts was that this was the right commander and the right cave. As David followed his Commander to the cave, these men followed theirs.
Real God. Real cave. Safe cave. It had to be, or they were dead men—401 dead men.
Editor’s Note: Read a FREE Preview of CAVETIME by Jeff Voth here: Cavetime Free Preview