Summary: These “mighty men” joyfully chose to put a relationship of love ahead of every other consideration – their love for their king came ahead of their safety, their comfort, their ease. Their gift was not an inconvenience, it was not grudgingly provided, it
Giving Your All – David’s Mighty Men: Stories of God’s People
2 Samuel 23:8-17 June 11, 2006
A small church was having a reunion. A former member who attended the celebration had become a millionaire. When he testified about how God had blessed him over the years, he related an incident from his childhood.
He said that when he earned his first dollar as a boy, he decided to keep it for the rest of his life. But then a guest missionary preached about the urgent need on the mission field. He struggled about giving his dollar. “The Lord won, however,” the man said. Then, with a sense of pride he added, “I put my treasured dollar in the offering basket. And I am convinced that the reason God has blessed me so much is that when I was a little boy I gave Him everything I possessed.” The congregation was awestruck by the testimony—until a little old lady in front piped up, “I dare you to do it again!”
This morning I want to introduce you to three men – Josheb-Basshebeth, Eleazar, and Shammah. Their story is in 2 Samuel 23:8-17.
“8 These are the names of David’s mighty men:
Josheb-Basshebeth, [b] a Tahkemonite, [c] was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed [d] in one encounter.
9 Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim [e] for battle. Then the men of Israel retreated, 10 but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory.
13 During harvest time, three of the thirty chief men came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 15 David longed for water and said, "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!" 16 So the three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD. 17 "Far be it from me, O LORD, to do this!" he said. "Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?" And David would not drink it.
Such were the exploits of the three mighty men.”
Just A Cup Of Water?
We don’t know when this story takes place, but there is a good possibility that David is not yet king. He is in hiding, in a cave near Bethlehem. The water has run out, the conditions are miserable, the enemy is all around, and David knows that his hometown of Bethlehem is occupied by the vile Philistines. And in a moment of longing, perhaps of despair, David utters the words of longing for “a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” It is not a command, it is not a selfish desire, instead I believe it is a deep longing not just for the water but for the freedom to be out of this cave, to be home, to live in a land that is free and safe and good. It is a longing for wrongs to be put right, for captives to be released, for God’s people to be victorious.
The “mighty men”, as Scripture calls them, hear this longing – and they go into action. They travel 12 miles from the cave, they fight their way through the Philistine lines, fight their way to the well, draw the water, fight their way back out and then carry that water the 12 miles back to the cave to David.
Why did they do it? They weren’t commanded to, they weren’t required to, they weren’t even asked to. So why? Because they loved their king. David may not yet have become the King of Israel, but he was their king. They heard their king’s longing, and then gladly risked their lives to bring him back that drink. I think they knew that the real longing was for freedom, and that the three of them might not accomplish that, but they knew that this would be a powerful act of courage that would inspire others, that would rally them around their king, that would show them that it was possible, it was within their grasp, and they could be victorious. Even more, they saw this as an expression of love for their king.