Summary: David’s sigh brought out some noble actions of his three mightiest men.


TEXT: 2 Samuel 23:13-17 (Secondary Text: 1 Chronicles 11:12-19)

2 Samuel 23:13-17 KJV And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim. [14] And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. [15] And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! [16] And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD. [17] And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.


-David finds himself not so much geographically but in his soul a lifetime’s journey away from Hebron, where he had been anointed as the king to the place he is now residing. Adullam is a place that marks him for conflict. One of the great spiritual laws of life is that we will endure far more Adullam’s than enjoy the high points of Hebron.

-David under great pressure and duress from the Philistines desired to have a drink from the waters of his youth. He literally longed to have a drink of water from the wells in Bethlehem.

-It is more than just a sentimental cry from David but rather it is a distant memory of yesteryear and the innocence of a time that has now left him. Hidden in his cave in Adullam, perhaps he looks out at the verdant, lush valley and it provokes a thirst in him for more than just water. . . but for now the water will suffice.

-Perhaps at a venture he thinks that this water will bring something else to his soul and mind.

Oh for our youth again.

Oh for a renewal again.

Oh for a revival in the heart again.

Oh for a passion for prayer again.

Oh for my life to experience just a bit of peace again.

Oh for just a drink of water from the wells of Bethlehem!

-Now they are at the cave of Adullam hearing the desires of a king’s heart. “Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” Perhaps uttered even more as a sigh than as a request. But to mighty men the sighs’ of the King are just as important as His commands.

-What the King desires ought to be the whole focus of our relationship with God. Let others dismiss David’s sigh as a distant memory from his childhood but it is different with a mighty man. He looks at things a little differently than the run-of-the-mill soldier. This small request is one of the price tags of greatness.

-The cave of Adullam was about 17 miles SW of Jerusalem and about 10 miles SE of Gath. So these men would have to travel north through all sorts of dangerous passes and stretches of land to get to the wells of Bethlehem. Add on to that challenge the heavy infestation of Philistines and you have a real adventure at hand.

-The mindset of these men was one of total devotion to their king. They remembered where they came from and what they once were before the king came along.


A. Desire Marks the Mighty Man

-These three mighty men hear the cry of their king and determine to do something about it. There will come a time in the life of most men that their greatest goal will be to furnish what the King desires.

-These men were of that mindset. Their prevailing desire was to get to the wells by the gate in Bethlehem. Not just any well in Bethlehem but the one that was by the gate.

-This water was going to cost these men something! This is the way that it is with the King. . . the things He values will cost you something. In fact later on in the text there is a word that marked what they paid for it. . . They put their lives in jeopardy. . . They put everything at risk because of their desire to fulfill the wishes of the king.

No matter what danger they had to face.

No matter what paths they had to take.

No matter how long it took them.

No matter what it cost them. . . they were intent on providing the King’s desires.

-There are price tags that will always be attached to greatness. Greatness does not come by credit nor can one take out a loan to buy it. The price tag for greatness comes only through sweat, blood, tears, pain, and soul-elevating desire!

Aiden W. Tozer -- There is considerable truth in the idea that revivals are born after midnight, for revivals (or any other spiritual gifts and graces) come only to those who want them badly enough. It may be said without qualification that every man is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wants to be. He may not be as full as he wishes he were, but he is most certainly as full as he wants to be. (From Born After Midnight, pp. 7-8.)

-Desire is the real key to bringing to pass what the king desires.

B. Their Names and the Meanings Are Filled with Destiny

-The three mightiest of David’s men were these men. In fact, they are the top three of his valiant thirty. In every conflict these men were the battle-seasoned of David and a fight did not alarm them in the least.

-Furthermore when you begin to look into the meanings of their names and where they hailed from, there is a hint of destiny that lay in their names.

• Adino the Eznite: His name indicates a slender and sharp spear. He slew 800 with his spear.

• Eleazar the Ahohite: God is a Helper. Ahohite indicates that he was the son of a builder. He fought the Philistines once and in the rout when it was completed could not let go of his sword.

• Shammah the Hararite: His name indicates astonishment or one who ruins. He ruined the Philistines when they were out foraging one time.

-David held them in greatest regard not when they were fighting but rather when they were serving. Mighty men find themselves involved in both venues: Fighting and Serving. It is that old principle that Nehemiah would embrace when he worked with a sword in one hand and a mortar trowel in the other. . . Building and Battling. . . . These are the paradoxes of the Kingdom of God.

(I also might add that David is a type of Christ here in the role that David is playing as a king to all these misfits who have become mighty men. This is why it is important to mine the treasures out of this story.)

C. The Mighty Man Will Break Through the Barriers to Gain the Treasure

-In this passage, particularly note verse 16:

2 Samuel 23:16 KJV And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.

-They had to break through the host of Philistines, not to fight but to get a goat-skin full of water. When you are a mighty man not everything about life is going to be blessing and goodness. There are times that challenges will come to us because we are battling to bless the King.

-What is the motivation for it? To gain the real understanding, you have to look up who these men were. The answer is found in 1 Samuel 22:2.

1 Samuel 22:2 KJV And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.

-Look at who these folks were:

• The Distressed -- The Hebrew word tells of those who were under pressure and under stress.

• The Bankrupt -- They could not even pay their bills. The creditors were after them so they retreated to the caves.

• The Discontented -- Those who were in bitterness of heart and had been wronged and mistreated and were more than willing to share their colossal injustices with anyone who would listen.

-What a crowd that David had surrounding him at one of the darkest times in his life. But he helped them get it turned around. They became respectable folks who could contribute instead of always wanting to be contributed to.

-Sort of sounds like the Church. . . . Distressed, Misfits, Bankrupt, Outlaws, and Rogues. . . Listen to what Paul had to say about it. . . .

Ephesians 2:1-7 KJV And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; [2] Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: [3] Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. [4] But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, [5] Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) [6] And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

-Sometimes when people first come into a real Pentecostal church, they want to say all this emotion, all this noise, all this worship isn’t really necessary. . . The problem is that they haven’t seen what we looked like before God found us.

-Where others may give up in defeat, fear of failure, fear of man, unbelief, distress, there is something that motivates the mighty man. There is a hunger within that will not allow rest, a perseverance that presses on in the face of stubborn obstacles, and there is a drive that will not be wilted down!

-Do you want to be a mighty man? If you desire this there will be some battles you will have to fight. There will be a presentation of some uncomfortable situations that you will be forced to endure.

-Bethlehem is just a few miles from Adullam. It would be 10-12 miles at the most but in those miles are harbored many “dangers, toils, and snares.”

Marcus Lutrell writes in his book Lone Survivor about the preparation for becoming a Navy SEAL. Physical exercise that is intended on breaking the body down through running miles on end, push-ups by the thousands, swimming in the pounding tides of the Pacific, having to roll in the wet sand after the swim and then being forced to function with all of that sand in their hair, on their skin, and in their clothes. Lutrell said that the discomfort and aggravation of the sand was almost enough to break a soldier down. Tack on to this all the mental intimidation by the screaming, cursing sergeants and the creation of a SEAL suddenly seems almost unreachable.

Then comes that last week of their training where marathons are run, forced to stay up for 30-40 hours straight with only a couple of hours of sleep, and then having to navigate the ocean in a rubber raft. Add to that having to crawl under the fire coming from live weapons and then having to attack a body of soldiers and extract a hostage and you have a SEAL. Lutrell writes of the 160 or so that started in his class, somewhere around 30 managed to make it. This is what separates the men from the boys. Lutrell wrote that the mind is a very powerful tool when it is under attack and in less than ideal circumstances. If you desire to achieve the goal, he wrote that this is what most of the SEALs who made it through relied on. When sheer physical exhaustion pounded them to the ground, the desire in the heart was what made the difference.

-I believe this same thing is true with those who are numbered among the mighty men of the Kingdom of God. It is a desire to please and serve the King that will pull you through every heart-ache, every trial and difficulty along the way.

-There are price tags attached to greatness. You do not fall into greatness nor can it be obtained by a pedigree. Greatness is something that is pursued and planned for. These mighty men knew what was in front of them.

They pressed through danger.

They gave little regard to their own safety.

They did not let their fear rule them.

Their desire to please the king was bigger than their fear of the enemy.

-When you get down to it, this is what the Holy Ghost does for every one of us!

D. It Only Takes a Few

-In 2 Samuel 23:17, David says that these men literally went and placed their lives in jeopardy or at risk to fulfill his desire.

-The rewards more often than not won’t come on this side of the Rapture. But how God will reward faithful service on the other side!!!

-It only took three of the mighty men. Just a small minority.

-It will usually be a small minority who are devoted to the greater plan of the Kingdom. Don’t let this disarm you or discourage you. It has always been this way and will continue to be this way. Don’t let this sad reality choke out your desire or your faith—Just Do It!

-The actions of a few are often a clarion call to courage. It requires radical sacrifice and radical commitment to accomplish these things.

All that it takes is for one man to refuse to surrender! Anyone who is familiar with Winston Churchill understands that he was such a man who refused to give in to surrender. His first statement as Prime Minister to the House of Commons on May 13, 1940 was this: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”

Three weeks later after the capture of Dunkirk, Churchill rallied his nation with these words:

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

Five months later, reporting on the war situation to the House of Commons, Churchill said,

Death and sorrow will be the companions of our journey; hardship our garment; constancy and valor our only shield. We must be united, we must be undaunted, we must be inflexible.

In a unique speech to the London County Council, July 14, 1941, he referred to a “comradeship of suffering, or endurance” and told Hitler and his Nazi forces: “We will have no truce or parley with you, or the grisly gang who work your wicked will. You do your worst—and we will do our best.” And later, “We shall never turn from our purpose however somber the road, however grievous the cost.”

He stirred the boys of Harrow School that same year on October 29:

Do not let us speak of darker days; let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days: these are great days—the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.

-He pressed, motivated, and drove his countrymen to a victory over the German armies that bombed and harassed them in World War II. One man. . . can make a difference!


-What does the King desire? It is summed up in the 42 principles that come from the Sermon on the Mount. There are additional desires summed up in the Epistles.

Hebrews 13:12-15 KJV Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. [13] Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. [14] For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. [15] By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

-Move outside the camp. . . There is where the great rewards are. Take off for Bethlehem. Let others tremble in fear. Let others settle for the status quo. Let others wilt under the dilemmas of the times and the culture. You pursue the water in Bethlehem!

-This whole act will give your life an incredible freedom and power.

Philip Harrelson

January 4, 2009