Kingly Cave Talk, Follow in David’s Footsteps to Develop Heroes for God


James Bell is pastor of Hosanna Church in Houston, TX, where he and his wife, Suzanne, have pastored for 10 years.

Scattered across the pages of the biblical account of David’s life are tales of unparalleled heroism by a group known as David’s Mighty Men. These men killed giants, won spectacular victories and became legendary. But look at how they started. Members of David’s first recruiting class were described as distressed, indebted and discontent. And their meeting place was in a cave!

So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s household heard of it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented, gathered to him; and he became captain over them. -1 Samuel 22:1-2

What happened to those guys? How did such hopeless people become heroes? What caused society’s rejects to grow into an elite fighting force? It all began with cave talk. The process was one of changing core values and shifting, if not shattering, paradigms.

When these men came to David, he was at a low place in his life, too. The giddy thrill of victory swirled around him at an early age. He became a national hero. When he was just a boy, Israel’s prophet-priest Samuel anointed him to be king. But from the palace of King Saul, he experienced a free-fall to the depths of rejection. Then he hid, fearing for his life. It appeared that his best days were over. This was not a good time to hold a seminar on self-esteem!

But they came anyway. Ragged, discouraged, desperate men crowded into the cave. David must have looked over the group, brushed aside the memories of the disciplined troops he had known and fought with, and realized that his only hope was God.

This is certainly relevant when you look up from your cell material one night to realize that some of your sheep look more like creatures from the Black Lagoon. Not that they have a scary physical appearance, but because strongholds are towering above everything else in their lives. And now their eyes are upon you, their leader.

So what is a godly leader to do? One cell leader said, “I gotta multiply my group fast. And I want to pick who goes!” Believe me, there is a better way. We can pick up some clues from David. He had a lot of success with turning his mess into a miracle.

David wrote Psalm 57 while he hid out in the cave. I often wonder whether he was speaking of those renegades living with him in the cave when he wrote in verse 4:

My soul is among lions;
I must lie among those who breathe forth fire,
even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
and their tongue a sharp sword.

Now imagine that this verse was a description of your cell group. It would be pretty tough to whip those folks into shape, huh? Let’s face it: Most of us would quickly realize that we were not capable of performing the task. Well, that is exactly what David concluded! In verse 2 of that same Psalm, he wrote, I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.

We have to understand that God is capable of accomplishing anything. Now think about that for a moment. After all, He saved you! God can do anything, and He is available to help you. That’s a powerful thought. So we bring our group daily before the Lord. We ask for wisdom and guidance in leading them. We expect God to start accomplishing things! Another insight into how God does this kind of thing is found in the latter part of verse 3,

God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.

When you deal with challenging people entrusted your care, always make sure that your love-ometer is registering higher than your truth-o-meter. And also be aware that you must have both of these divine weapons of spiritual warfare. The combination of love and truth is what triumphs when spiritual strongholds are approached. David’s cave talk undoubtedly encompassed much love and truth. So don’t hold back the love that God pours through you. The unlovable need it the most. And when you know that people are aware that you love them, do not hold back the truth, either. Confronting in love is always necessary for effective leadership. In the ranks of our spiritual enemy, tolerance has as many kills as judgement.

It is comforting to know that God will send forth His love and truth to us. These come through our relationship with Him. How do we use love and truth? Well, how does He use them with you? Ministering out of your own experience with God keeps the truth sharp and accurate and the love fresh and sincere. So love, share the truth, and let God do the accomplishing. You will begin to see those folks with rough edges turning into mighty warriors for God.

David had a special love for those rag-tag fellows who came to him in the cave. When he later was crowned king of Israel, he appointed them as the special honor guard of the king. He must have cherished the way they marched, keeping rank with heads held high. He loved to tell of their exploits and acts of courage. But the really special ingredient in the diet of discipline and skill that he fed these men was His faith in God.

Browse through Psalm 57 and Psalm 34 again, and think about how God inspires us to inspire others. Listen hard to what David is saying. It is cave talk. And it will help you develop some heroes for God.