The landscape surrounding the Dead Sea looks like something from another world. Barren mountains of rock, crystalized salt formations, and sinkholes that swallow roads all conspire to remind you that you really are at the lowest elevation on Earth and are surrounded by nature that will poison, burn, dehydrate, or otherwise kill you.
Yet, in the midst of this dangerous desert, there’s an oasis called En Gedi, a name formed from two Hebrew words: en, meaning “spring,” and gedi, meaning “young goat.” And it’s lovely.
Ibexes (wild goats) climb the cliff faces, and furry little hyraxes come close enough to touch. But the best part is the water. A beautiful spring of fresh water gushes out of the limestone, tumbling down the cliffs on its way to the depths of the Dead Sea. Bursting with the only real vegetation for miles, En Gedi has streams and waterfalls that feel like life in the midst of death.
King Solomon mentioned vineyards here (Song 1:14), and some believe Jesus fasted in the wilderness here (Mk. 1:13). However, David’s time at En Gedi is what usually comes to mind, reminding us how difficult it can be to wait for an oasis from God when we’re living in the desert.
When David and his troops were running for their lives from King Saul, one of the places they hid was En Gedi, in the many caves around the spring. First Samuel 24 says Saul went into a cave to relieve himself, unaware that David’s little army was hidden farther back in the cave.
David had already been anointed king, but he was waiting for God to remove Saul. Instead of killing Saul, which he easily could have done, David snuck up and cut off the corner of Saul’s robe, symbolically dishonoring and removing Saul’s identity as God’s chosen ruler. But David quickly repented of his actions, realizing he was trying to speed up God’s work.
Have you ever grown weary waiting on God? It’s hard to be content when we feel like we’re living in the desert and need a spring. Our hearts can grow cynical, our minds can grow anxious, and our feet want to rush ahead. Like David, it’s easy to feel like our timing is better than the Lord’s.
But God has reasons for His timing, and He knows our weakness in waiting. So, we should draw near to Him for grace and mercy in our time of need, as we wait for God’s springs in the desert (Heb. 4:14–16).
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