I will give thanks to you, O Lord…
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
A psalm written by David from En Gedi
One of my favorite questions to ask people is: “Where do you feel your strongest connection to God?” The most common answer is the same I’d give: “When I’m near the water.”
The Bible is filled with many references to water. Following our recent visit to Israel, I have a deeper appreciation for the significance of water and a greater understanding of why so many people’s spirits are nurtured when they’re near water.
Israel is a hot, dry, barren land. As Jane, our tour guide, described the history of the land she loves, the critical role of water was a recurring theme.
Merriman-Webster online dictionary defines “oasis” as a fertile or green area in an arid region (as a desert); something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast. The term “oasis” took on a whole new meaning for me while in Israel.
One of the lovely oases we visited was En Gedi. The name means “Spring of the Kid.” En Gedi has for centuries been the gathering place for animals such as the Ibex, a wild goat. Ibex still hang out at En Gedi, but the contemporary oasis is also a popular destination for tourists and families on holiday.
The hills around En Gedi are dotted with caves. It was in these caves David hid from King Saul and his army. It was in one cave where David chose to spare King Saul’s life. (Read the story in 1 Samuel 23 and 24.)
David penned some potent psalms from the oasis of En Gedi.
The day we visited En Gedi, I felt fatigued. I’d walked with Ron to the first waterfall, but rather than hiking to a second, I rested and reflected. During those moments of reflection, I experienced an “ah-ha” moment about why God had wanted me to spend an extended period of time with David in the psalms during a desert season through which I’d trudged several years ago.
It was an extended period when I felt betrayed, trapped, perplexed, and frightened, a time when I wondered if God cared about me. During those trying days, I’d scolded myself, “You should study your Bible,” but the only Scriptures I could bear to read for several months were the Psalms.
During my challenging days, David’s lament mirrored my pain and validated my distress. Although I didn’t know it at the time, David’s words instructed me and encouraged me to ‘hang in there.’ Eventually, I transitioned into a new season. As a result of the time I’d spent in the psalms, my faith in the same God David knew and loved so well had grown stronger. My confidence in the God about which David wrote so eloquently was greater.
Spending time in a spiritual dessert often toughens up the soul.
In my next blog post, I’d like to explore some thoughts from Psalms 142, which is one of the psalms David wrote from En Gedi. I hope you’ll join me. Until then…
Blessings to you, no matter the season through which you’re currently traveling…
Note: I will be sharing additional posts about our impactful trip to Israel. For more information about your own trip to Israel, we recommend highly Dan and Sharon Stolbarger, our group leaders. If this is a trip you’d love to make, check them out at http://holygroundexplorations.com/