A desert flood canyon, called by its Arabic name, wadi (nahal in Hebrew, often translated “brook” or stream” in English) is normally dry and may be used as a road. The road from Jericho to Jerusalem, for example, passes through the Judean wilderness alongside a deep wadi. However, wadis can flood suddenly, even when there isn’t a cloud in the sky. From some trails in these narrow riverbeds it is impossible to see more than a few hundred feet ahead or behind, so travel through a wadi can be dangerous.
In fact, even today, as was true centuries ago, the greatest cause of death in Middle Eastern deserts is not the heat or thirst but floods in the wadis. This added to the challenges faced by the Hebrews as they traveled into unknown desert territory. Sometimes we see desert experiences build slowly to a crisis. At other times they come upon us with startling speed and overwhelming power – like a flood in a desert wadi. Read about the danger posed by wadis in the following articles:
“When Your Heart Cries Out”
- What kind of experience did David compare to a raging flood in Psalm 124:1-8?
What does this Psalm add to your understanding of David’s life experiences and his trust in God’s help?
Why do you think God allows us to experience “close calls” where we are at risk of being swept away or destroyed before He delivers us?
- In what ways is David’s description of his trouble in Psalm 69:1-3 like a wadi flood, and how serious was the trouble he faced?
What do you notice as you continue reading David’s plea for help in Psalm 69:13-17? To what extent does he seem frantic or confident about his cry for help and why do you think that is?
What did David believe was the reason God would help him? Is it still the reason God helps people? If so what do you expect God would do if you could not avoid a desperate situation and you cry out to him for help?
- David composed Psalm 18 after being delivered from his enemies who wanted to kill him. Read verses 1-6, 16-19, 46-50.With which desert images does God describe his desperate situation and God?
How does what you have seen of the desert help you to better understand these images, particularly David’s life experiences with God and the reality of the trouble he faced?
What evidence do you see that David had a deep, intimate relationship with God before calamity struck, and how did it help him in the time of crisis?
- Which image from the wadis did David use in Psalm 40:1-3 Even though David was apparently at risk as if he were stuck in the muck of a wadi, why do you think he “waited patiently” for the Lord to find him?
How might David’s experience as a shepherd have taught him to wait on God, his Shepherd?
Suggested memory verse: Psalm 40:1-3
1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.