2 Samuel 23:15-17
15 And David said with longing, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!”
16 So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD.
17 And he said, “Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things were done by the three mighty men.
They were three of the mightiest soldiers of Israel: Josheb-Basshebeth the Tachmonite, Eleazar the son of Dodo, and Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. Their exploits were extraordinary (2 Samuel 23:8-12), and in the minds of some their valiant deeds perhaps reminded people of Samson. No doubt they loved their King, David the son of Jesse, God’s anointed one. Then one day the Philistines came within a few miles of Jerusalem, camping out in nearby Bethlehem. Musing upon the fact that the Philistines were so close to the stronghold, David off-handedly remarked that he missed the sweet water found in the well by the gate of little Bethlehem.
David never intended that anyone would take him literally. King David knew quite well that if he gave the battle to the Lord then the Philistines would soon be defeated and Bethlehem would be returned to them. Nonetheless, David’s top soldiers went on a daring raid at great risk to their own lives, fighting through enemy lines to reach that well and bring some of that sweet water to their king.
The mighty men surely saw their deed as an act of love for their king, but David didn’t see it that way. Yes, we can be sure that David appreciated the gesture of devotion, but David didn’t want that kind of devotion. David didn’t want that kind of love, and he never actively sought it. In his youth, while crowds of people bragged about David’s exploits, the shepherd-turned-soldier had spent most of his time on the run from King Saul, never really taking advantage of the people’s favor.
Fighting through enemy lines for a cup of water? It sounds glorious, and with any other king it might have prompted parades and rewards. But David is the friend of God, the anointed King of Israel, enemy of the enemies of God. To David, it seemed like an act of worship, and he knew that all worship and praise and honor belong to the Lord.
Even though the warriors returned unscathed, David saw that the water was bought with the blood of these three men. When they risked their lives, they sacrificed their safety and their bodies to perform this feat, but they did it for the wrong reason. David never asked these men for their life blood, never asked for their sacrifice, never expected such worshipful devotion. David saw that any blood sacrifice belonged only to God, and so David gave the sweet water to the Lord, passing along whatever glory or honor it contained, and hoping that this act of worship would justify the acts of the three mighty men.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Do we do “all in the name of Lord Jesus”? I don’t think I do. I try hard to do that, but there are times I serve myself, seeking that bit of praise and honor for myself, seeking a touch of glory that rightly belongs to God. The blood of Jesus was poured out on the altar of God for all of us – the mighty and the meek – and so it is our just duty to honor the Lamb of God with all we do. However much we may love our nations, our families, our cities or even such mundane things as sports teams or churches, we have got to remember that our first loyalty MUST be to God.
“For who is God, except the LORD?” said King David. (2 Samuel 22:32) We must remember that. We must remember to bring glory to God, not to our fellow people, nor even to the men and women who serve God. When we elevate people and serve them to their glory, we are leaving behind our first love, which ought to be God. Through Christ Jesus, God has shown His love for all of us, and through His might and righteousness He has delivered us from Satan, sin, and death. Will we now fight against unbelievable odds merely to bring glory to an earthly thing? Or will we honor the sacrifice of Christ by pouring out our own honor before the Lord God?
Gracious Father and Lord, please accept my service today. I praise You because You have exalted me in great and small ways. And what greater glory should I seek but that promised through Your precious Son? Take my glory, Lord God, and ever remind me that You alone are God, You alone are worthy of all praise and honor and glory. Blessed be the name of the Lord! Amen.