GOD’S ANOINTED: David’s Offering

2 Samuel 23:15—17

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.

There are many fascinating incidences in King David’s life.  David was, like all of us, a complicated human being who made many mistakes and did many great things over a lifetime.  The reality of David is far removed from the mythology of David.  He was far from perfect, yet he never claimed to be anything more than what he was:  an imperfect man after God’s own heart.  The thing we like about David is that he never tried to outrun himself; when he sinned; he owned up to his sin, confessed it, and very often paid a dear price for it.  But he did even more than that; he took advantage of God’s grace and mercy expressed to him by demonstrating that same grace and mercy to others.  This is what sets David apart from other people.  He was very human, yet demonstrated divine traits when he allowed the Holy Spirit to use him.

It seemed that for his entire life David struggled within himself to, on the one hand, gratify his own lusts, and at the same time do right by his God.  Despite his transgressions, King David understood the words of Herbert:

My God must have my best.

Here, near the end King David’s life, we see a demonstration of this humble attitude, as David offers God a special kind of offering; an offering that sprang from his need.

1.  Context

Chapter 23 of 2 Samuel records “David’s last words.”  More accurately, verses 1—7 record the latest words written by David at the zenith of his power; he had been restored to power and restored spiritually.  The King’s family and his soul had been healed and, given the words of verses 3 and 4, the king had learned a lesson—

The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me:  ‘When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, 4 he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.’

In verses 8—39, we have an account of David’s Mighty Men and some of their exploits.  Who were these “Mighty Men?”  These were the heroic men who had been following David since the young man was anointed king.  These men were a breed apart, for they followed David as king before he ascended to the throne, often at great risk to their own safety.  These men gave up normal lives to follow David in faith believing that one day he would be king of Israel.  David, for his part, kept these loyal friends with him as he became king; they never left his employ.

Here is a marvelous picture of Christ and His followers.  The world has rejected Christ, even though one day the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of Christ and He will rule over them.  But for now, like David before Him, Christ is rejected, yet He has His loyal band of faithful followers.  Those who serve Him in faith are His “mighty men” and women!  And like Christ, David was the captain of his Mighty Men.

In the midst of describing the Mighty Men, the writer relates a curious incident that occurred during harvest time, in the cave at Adullam.  Historically, this event likely finds correlation with the events in 5:17—25.  This brief account is one of the most enlightening anecdotes of David’s career for it reveals the king’s heart.  An act of unselfish bravery and loyalty is matched by an act of gratitude and chivalry, and we see in the Mighty Men and in David the most admirable and desirable qualities all believes should strive to cultivate in their own lives.

Hiding in a cave from the Philistines, it was natural that David, the thirsty warrior, should offhandedly remark as he did—

“Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!”  (verse 15b)

As a youth, David probably stopped at that nearby well to quench his thirst.  But much had changed for David; he was no longer a youth, no longer a shepherd.  Now he was a warrior, fighting for his life, shepherding his followers.

We can imagine his surprise when some of his loyal followers broke rank and risked their lives to get him, their captain and friend, a cup of water—

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.  (verse 16a)

Friends like that are rare indeed!  But David was even rarer:  instead of quenching his thirst, he made an offering to God.  Let’s consider this most remarkable offering.

2.  It was common

Rather than drink the cool, refreshing water, David offered it to God.  In fact, David did not just offer some of it; he poured it all out to God.  No sacrifice is too small for God.  Sometimes, in our zeal to serve God, we miss the smallest of opportunities to show our heart’s devotion of God.   Who would think of making a cup of water an offering to God?  Especially when the offerer was in desperate need of that same water?   David did, because he not only loved God, he proved his love by making an offering based, not on the abundance of what he had, but his lack.  It is easy to give God from our overflow because it is painless and costs us nothing.  But giving to God when we can least afford it shows that we place God ahead of all else in our lives.  It also shows that we have faith in God to meet and supply all our needs.

What need does God have of water?  None!  That is not why David offered it to Him in the first place.  By a simple act of faith and devotion, David demonstrated how much he loved and trusted God.  He also paid the highest honor to his friends, incidentally, in taking their gift to him and passing it along to the Lord.  David did not miss an opportunity to worship God.

3.  It was costly.

While the water was common, it was incredibly costly—

Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?  (verse 17a)

A common thing was made precious because it was purchased with a great price.  Men risked their very lives for this water!  The water derived its value from what these men were willing to trade for it:  their blood for David’s water.

Have you ever stopped consider your worth?  Did you know you are of infinite, incalculable value to God?  You are worth what it cost God to acquire you:  the blood of His only Son.   If the shed blood of Jesus Christ is so precious we write hymns about it, then you must be equally as precious because you were redeemed by that same shed blood.   We may be sinners, but we are sinners saved by the precious blood of Christ!

This magnanimous act of David’s seemed to a way of life for him.  Notice what he did in the very next chapter—

But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”  So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.  (2 Sam. 24:24)

There are those who give God the leftovers; the shattered reputations, the crippled lives, and the sick days.  People like that give God only what they no longer want or need.  But from the book of collected wisdom, Proverbs, comes this piece of advice—

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.  (Proverbs 3:9)

David desperately wanted to drink that water, yet he gave it to God.  Are we that generous with our possessions?  Or our lives?

4.  It was desirable.

Verse 15 makes this clear—

David longed for water

When David made this offering to God, he was not giving up something he had used or something he really didn’t want; David “longed” for this water!   It is always easy to give God things we no longer need or have the capacity to enjoy.   Think about how many people leave their wealth to charity after they’ve died!  What kind of sacrifice is that?  Anybody could do that; that kind of giving means nothing because it cost nothing.

When David poured out that precious water, he was giving God the very best he had at that moment.   God is never concerned with what we give, or how much we give, but rather with the quality of what we give.  He expects those who claim to love Him to give the best to Him; the best time, the best talents, the best attitudes, the best income, the best attention.  If it is something difficult for us to give away, God wants it.

5.  It could not be taken back.

Once that water was poured out on the ground that was it!  David couldn’t scoop it back up again.  What is given to God is His forever.  David knew, as he held that cup of cold water in his  hands, as soon as he poured it out to the Lord it could never again be his.

Do we realize what that means?  Do modern Christians have even the barest concept of “sacrifice?”  Sure, many of us every Sunday morning give our tithes and offerings faithfully to the Lord, and just as faithfully we claim that giving on our income tax forms so we can get some of it back.  How many of us would be as generous if we knew once we gave our offering we would never see it again in any form?  That is true sacrificial giving!

Not only that, but if we have given ourselves to the Lord, then we no longer belong to ourselves and it is the highest, most offensive sacrilege in the world to take back for our own self-gratification that which rightfully belongs to God.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.  (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20)

This year, let’s all understand just what David did in that cave so long ago and try to emulate it.  Let’s try to understand what Jesus did on the Cross so long ago, and try to emulate that.  Let’s try to understand what God did in giving the life of His only Son, and try to emulate that sacrifice.

What Thou has given me, Lord, here I bring Thee,
Odour and ligt, and the magic of god;
Feet which must follow Thee, lips which must sing Thee,
Limbs which must ache for Thee ere they grow old.

(c)  2009, WitzEnd

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