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Shadows on the Wall

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam….” (1 Samuel 22:1)

When I saw this, I was reminded of another famous cave I read about in a philosophy class. Maybe you’ve heard of it: Plato’s “Cave Allegory.” In his book Republic, Plato told a story of an imaginary group of people who had lived chained to the wall of a cave all their lives, facing a blank wall.

The people watched shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them. The shadows were all they knew about the world. The shadows were the prisoners’ reality.

But shadows are not accurate representations of the real world.

The shadows were only their perception of reality discovered through their senses. The objects behind them represented the reality of the world. In other words, there was a real world outside of the cave. Plato’s point was that senses can’t be trusted to find truth. What humans need to uncover reality is philosophy.

David was in a dark, dismal cave. He was running for his life. He was utterly alone. He’d lost his position, his wife, his mentor, his best friend, and his self-respect. Like shadows on a cave wall, that was his “reality.” But as it turns out, that was only his perception of reality.

…Soon his brothers and all his other relatives joined him there. Then others began coming—men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented—until David was the captain of about 400 men.” (1 Samuel 22:1–2, NLT)

My point is this: You may be in a dark cave. You may feel that cave is your world – your “reality” – your “truth.” But the scary shadows on the walls of our lives – the things we think we know about life, ourselves, or God – don’t mean we are correct in our perception of reality. It doesn’t mean that God is not at work.

The answer, of course, is not finding enlightenment through philosophy. The answer is finding God. In David’s life, despite his losses…despite his running, God was at work. Even in a cave.

If you’re in a cave, God hasn’t forgotten you. Look for Him. He’s got a plan!

Join us this week for my sermon, “Finding God in a Cave.”


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