A Remarkable Truth
The Bible comes alive in the Holy Land, the words seem to jump off the page into your heart as you read passages about the very places on which you are standing and touching. The En Gedi, the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Caesarea, Jerusalem and so many more…. as you travel through the Holy Land, walking where Jesus and men of God like David lived, breathed, worked and worshipped, a remarkable truth comes over you……your faith is firmly grounded in actual events and places. A freeing, peaceful feeling begins to sink through you. I believe that peace is exactly what Paul talked about in Philippians 4: 7 and the peace that Jesus declared to His disciples in John 14: 27. It is a peace that has nothing to do with the world; it has everything to do with knowing that Jesus Christ and His Father are real and in control. That it comes over you in an area of the world that has been in turmoil since the beginning of time is unexplainable and remarkable.
The En Gedi is just one remarkable place where God’s word becomes real and personal. Part of the Judean desert, and situated on the western shore of the Dead Sea, En Gedi is a spectacular ancient oasis and modern-day animal reserve where every middle east nomad, warrior, traveler and trader, past and present, has stopped to preserved his life and refresh his spirit. While the Dead Sea is a symbol of Sodom and Gomorrah’s death and desperation, the En Gedi is a picture of God’s grace and mercy.
A Desert Jewel
The name En Gedi, which means “Spring of the Goat,” suggests that animals and people were refreshed and preserved at this natural refuge in the desert. Most of the area’s numerous springs that surround and flow into the Dead Sea are too salty for drinking. Only two, the Narhal David and Narhal Arugot, provide the fresh water that makes the En Gedi oasis a stunning green jewel on the tan expanse of the Judean desert.
Watchful Ibex Eyes
Ancient thirsty and tormented travelers must have stared in agony at the vast body of undrinkable water that is the Dead Sea, only to breathe a sigh of relief when the palm trees and burst of color that is the En Gedi came into view. It is the same today as delighted travelers disembark from vehicles that have just driven past endless cliffs and stark desert hills. Here under the watchful eyes of Ibex, Coneys and other wildlife, they hike trails that pass over the wandering David Stream, refresh themselves under the spectacular waterfalls, and take in awe inspiring views that include the Dead Sea and Jordanian Moab Mountains.
Land Allotted to the Tribe of Judah
Many Biblical passages reference the En Gedi. The 15th chapter of Joshua records that the area of En Gedi was allotted to the tribe of Judah after the twelve tribes entered the Promised Land. David, the shepherd boy, king and ancestor of Jesus Christ, was from the tribe of Judah and knew the area like the back of his hand. During those terrible years after he had been anointed king by Samuel, he took advantage of that knowledge and hid from a jealous King Saul among the caves and cliffs in the En Gedi.
Saul and David in the Same Cave
As you hike up to David Falls, past those same caves and cliffs, it isn’t hard to imagine how David hid from Saul, what is hard to imagine is how they came so close to each other as recounted in 1st Samuel, chapter 24, when Saul enters the same cave where David is hiding. Despite the urging of his men, David does not kill the unsuspecting Saul; instead he cuts a corner from Saul’s cloak to prove that he is God’s man, at ease as he waits for God to work in his life.
1st Samuel 24: 4 – 6
“Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe. But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. “The Lord knows I shouldn’t have done that to my lord the king,” he said to his men. “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” 1 Samuel 24: 4 – 6 (NLT)
David was a humble man, a seeker of God’s face. He was content to let God be God, to let God’s timing rule in his life. It wasn’t that he was against fighting or killing, he led a fighting force and he killed Goliath, but he chose not to take this opportunity to kill Saul. David understood that God was in charge, we know later he took matters into his own hands and faced consequences, just like we do but in this cave he was God’s man, striving to act as God would have him do in the circumstances of this opportunity.
So how should we know when to act and when not to act? First, does the opportunity square with God’s word? We know that David was well-versed in the scriptures and commandments, studying God’s word diligently, he valued God’s instructions and applied them to his life. Participating and attending Bible Studies will help us apply God’s Word to our decisions.
Second, take time to pray, most opportunities don’t need to be taken right away, so talk to God and ask Him to make it clear whether it’s your will or His will. David was constantly in contact with his God. The Psalms are jam-packed with David’s conversations with God, his concerns, joys and his needs are spelled-out for us, to show us how to talk with God about everything in our lives.
Third, what do your Godly friends say? David was without his close Godly companions like Jonathan. The men with him, who were probably not those he counted among his Godly friends, simply jumped at the chance without any thought of how assassinating Saul would affect David’s future reign as king. Saul’s family would most likely be driven to constantly plot against David’s court and family. Had David been able to ask his friend Jonathan, he would have been given advice that was in line with God’s Word.
Think It Through
Fourth, think through the long-range consequences. We need to deliberately set boundaries for ourselves, boundaries that are there for the duration. Early on in this conflict, David had set an absolute boundary of not harming God’s chosen one. As King, David would have never been able to unite the 12 tribes into one nation if he had killed Saul. For most of his life, David chose to seek God’s face, to be the man that God wanted him to be, a man after God’s own pure heart with clean hands to do His work.
Seeing Is Believing
The En Gedi is one place where David totally relied on God and put his faith into action. As you look at those cliffs and caves David’s faith becomes a real thing, not just a “feel-good” story. No matter how hard we try, we cannot accurately visualize what the places in the Bible look like. When we read about the Kidron Valley, we think of the large valleys we encounter in Central California. The Bible accounts of Israelites walking through the mountains up to Jerusalem for feast days bring to mind the Rocky Mountains. Nothing could be farther from the truth in either case! Although it is “up” to Jerusalem, it isn’t the Rockies, and the Kidron Valley could fit in one vineyard plot of Napa Valley. According to many, 83% of what we learn is through our sight, and it is remarkable what happens to your study of God’s word once you have set eyes on His Holy Land. Come with us to Israel, a tour of the Holy Land will open your eyes and deepen your faith.
Click here to watch our YouTube video “Hiking to David Falls In The En Gedi”