2Sam. 23:13 Towards the beginning of harvest three of the thirty chiefs went down to join David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the valley of Rephaim. 14 David was then in the stronghold; and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. 15 David said longingly, “O that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” 16 Then the three warriors broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it; he poured it out to the LORD, 17 for he said, “The LORD forbid that I should do this. Can I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. The three warriors did these things.
David was a mighty man but he was not alone. He had partners in the work that he did and here we read the story of the three mighty men. They were devoted to him and to the work that they had before them. The men had been on the run for quite some time and found themselves in a cave of Adullam. There they quietly hid and, probably under his breath, David mentioned the water of Bethlehem.
The loyalty of his co-warriors is evident when they hear the words spoken from their leader’s heart. He had no intention of sending anyone to get water from Bethlehem and nor did he intend for this to be any kind of real request — but rather a longing which slipped out. His partners decided they would do what they could to support him and they sneeked out, made their way behind enemy lines, sacrificing themselves to bring their beloved leader some fresh water.
David’s response may seem unusual, but lest we are too quick to judge, just imagine that this is not a wasteful act, but an act of sacrifice. David pours out the water as an act of self-discipline, not taking it for himself, but giving it to God. It becomes an extravagant offering to the Lord, just as we later find the woman who anoints Jesus’ feet with perfume. The mighty men sacrifice for their beloved leader, and their beloved leader sacrifices for his Lord. They have all discovered that those things in life that are of great value are worth the risk. The mighty are willing to sacrifice it all in service to the Master.
The idea of sacrifice doesn’t sound pleasant and is not something that we talk about much in today’s world. We’re just passing through the Christmas season and I remember stories from our past when parents would sacrifice to do something very special for their children. These days we see pictures of gifts stacked under the tree — and even some that show piles of gifts as tall as the tree. Are we actually experiencing what it means to sacrifice to help others or have we developed a level of affluence in which sacrifice no longer has any real meaning?
I would like to suggest that we need to recover the concept of sacrifice. Maybe we need to begin with self-denial. Society tells us that we don’t need to deny ourselves of anything. I’ve even heard plenty of Christians scoff at the idea of self-denial but I think it’s something that’s missing in conversations about our spiritual growth. These men, David and his three mighty men, all knew about sacrifice. It was through sacrifice that they grew and developed into the mighty men that they were.
For the mighty to once again surface there will be need of sacrifice. Spiritual growth requires sacrifice, putting God first in our lives. Those who have gone before us would often sacrifice time, their sexual desires, food and other comforts to follow God. Where are the spiritually mighty today?
Lord, thank you for the challenging words of those who have gone before. Please, help me be willing to sacrifice to serve you. Amen.
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