Having grown up in America, when I think of the wilderness it is a picture of a mountainous region covered with dense forests that stretch out for miles in every direction. Melting snow from the mountaintop feeds the river that flows through it, which in turn quenches the thirst of the bears, bobcats, and other wild animals that make their home in the wilderness. The rush of traffic, the hum of the crowd, the incessant barking of the neighbors dog are all drowned out by the quiet rustle of leaves, the gurgle of water, and the majestic call of the eagle. It’s a place to get away from the cares of daily life for a time of personal and spiritual reflection. King David spent time in the wilderness. By reading the psalms he wrote we get a picture that David’s wilderness journey was indeed a time of personal and spiritual reflection. But it was also a time of struggle, of weariness, of testing, of the emotional turmoil of being pursued by a king whom David loved and loyally served. There were no dense forests in David’s wilderness, it was dry and rocky with only the occasional oasis of vegetation and fresh running water. He spent years moving from cave to cave, sleeping on the dusty ground. His constant vigilant watch for the pursuing King Saul made his rest uneasy. In his indignant, unrighteous anger, King Saul relentlessly sought to kill David. Saul had presumed to make a sacrifice without priestly assistance from Samuel. For this act of disobedience, God had taken the kingdom from Saul and anointed David as king. Pursued by an angry king whom he had loved and faithfully served, David’s time in the wilderness was without peace. What a struggle it must have been for David to know that this man he loved wanted him dead. David had played soothing music for Saul when the king had experienced times of distress. He had gone to battle for Saul and the nation of Israel. David and Saul’s son, Jonathan, had pledged their friendship and loyalty to one another before the Lord. What was David to do? He knew it would be a sin against God to kill Saul so he kept running, moving from one hiding place to another trying to avoid a confrontation. David was waiting for God to rectify the situation in His own time and in His own way. But the waiting was difficult. Over and over David prayed for God to deliver him from Saul. He didn’t want to hide in caves anymore, to constantly be on the run. He wanted to stop running, he wanted to be able to go back with King Saul and continue to serve him. But Saul would not relent and David continued to avoid him. I imagine that David looked back years later and could see how precious his time in the wilderness had been. A time spent in prayer and meditation, in praise and in petition of the only One who could save him. He knew that only God could protect and deliver him, that God was his only source of strength. David was comforted that God was in control and that nothing would take place outside of His perfect will. Despite the intensity of his time in the wilderness, David never lost sight of who God is, that He is holy and perfect in all His ways. I believe that David was drawn closer to God and came out better prepared to serve God as king of Israel. Are you in David’s wilderness? A place of struggle, of testing, of pain? Are you weary, beginning to wonder if things will ever get better? Wondering where God is in all this? Does it seem that He is far from you? Does He hear your prayers? Does He care? If you read the psalms written by David you will find that even in his most difficult moment David knew that God was his only hope of strength and salvation. Just because David didn’t understand why God was allowing this struggle in his life didn’t keep him from praising God and relying on the truths of God’s Word. God sees you right now. In His perfect wisdom and for His perfect reasons, God has allowed this time in your life. You can be certain that God has not meant this time to drive you away from Him but to draw you nearer. God wants you to experience His saving power. He wants you to know Him more intimately. He wants you to rely on Him to provide all you need. He wants to show you that He can take the most difficult of circumstances and use them for His glory and your good. God wants to comfort you, to strengthen you, to encourage you. As David wrote in Psalm 34:18, may you know that “the Lord is near those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” as you journey . . .in the wilderness.