Tested By Water

by Pr. Paddick Van Zyl
(Johannesburg ,ZA)

Aug 2014


A lecturer, when explaining stress management to a class, raised a glass of water and asked, "how heavy is this glass of water?" Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g. The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it."
"If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. "In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on." "As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the demands of life."
(The original source of this story is unknown to us,
but its message resonates with many.)*

I am sure you would agree that king David had a lot of stress in his life. With the amount of battles, wars and men he had to lead, he had quite a lot on his plate. Yet he managed to handle all of this and still be a good leader, because he knew his God, he was anointed for the task of leadership. Our text is taken from a short portion of Scripture found in 2 Samuel 23, when David, encamped against the Philistine army, found himself in a cave.


2 Samuel 23:13-17 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)


David longs for some water from his hometown, Bethlehem, and he speaks his wish out aloud. He probably whispered it aloud. How many times have we not done the same thing. Just thinking aloud about something that is near and dear to us.

The amazing thing in this episode in the cave is that his 3 mighty warriors that were probably always close to him for protection, heard this. And to them it was not mere wishful thinking. It was a desire, a longing uttered by their leader. The next thing we see: they act on this ‘dream’ or ‘vision’ of David.

I quite like what the Expositor's Bible Commentary says:
‘Next we have a description of the exploit of three of the mighty men when the Philistines were in possession of Bethlehem, and David in a hold near the cave of Adullam (see 2 Samuel 5:15-21). The occasion of their exploit was an interesting one. Contemplating the situation, and grieved to think that his native town should be in the enemy's hands, David gave expression to a wish - "Oh that someone would give me water to drink of the well of Bethlehem which is before the gate!"

It was probably meant for little more than the expression of an earnest wish that the enemy were dislodged from their position - that there were no obstruction between him and the well, that access to it were as free as in the days of his youth. But the three mighty men took him at his word, and breaking through the host of the Philistines, brought the water to David. It was a singular proof of his great personal influence; he was so loved and honoured that to gratify his wish these three men took their lives in their hands to obtain the water. Water got at such a cost was sacred in his eyes; it was a thing too holy for man to turn to his use, so he poured it out before the Lord.’ **

They risk their lives in getting David some water to drink, the water he so longs for.

 It was +- 12 miles give and take from the cave to the well at the wall, they had to travel for the water. 12 miles is a distance just to get a bit of water!
 They had to draw it from a well while the enemy was all around them
 They had to walk 12 miles back with the water and be careful not to spill any of it or drink from it themselves (imagine the thirst they must have had on the way back...having something in their hands that they needed just as much as David did, yet not willing to partake of it nut rather give it all to their leader)
 his hometown was Betlehem, the word ‘home’ in time of war has a very powerful connotation

and many men/woman will give or do anything or even say anything in longing for home.
 When David uttered his wishful thinking words those that were loyal heard it. he may have said it in a crowd of people yet only the loyal would have heard and acted on it

The crux of this story in Samuel is simply this: David’s followers did not stop at anything to see their leader’s wish and vision fulfilled. They were dedicated to the point of laying down their lives for their leader. They did not have to fetch any water. They wanted to. Their desire was to see their leader blessed. If he was blessed, they were blessed because they shared of the same anointing that was on him when they were submissive to his leadership.

And what do we find the great leader David, doing on their return with the water? He refuses to drink it! That is a leader of leaders. He could not get himself to drink something that cost the blood of his faithful followers to get it to him. He poured it on the ground as an offering to the Lord, his Leader and Commander. That is sacrifice and worship!

As F.B. Meyer in his commentary notes:

‘It was very noble of David to refuse to drink that which had been obtained at such cost. Self-control and thoughtfulness for others are graces that bind men’s hearts to their leaders. Moreover, David’s example suggests a quite different call which modern conditions make upon us for the exercise of similar self-control. Should we not refuse to make any use of wine and strong drink which have cost, and are costing, the lives of myriads? God forbid that any of us should enjoy, for our selfish pleasures, the deadliest foe of human happiness, purity and hope.’***

 The water was a symbol of their devotion, loyalty and camaraderie to their leader and one another
 Leaders or warriors are faithful to their calling and are willing to pay the price even to their own detriment or giving/risking tier own life for their leader(s)

Phall Winston of Salem Church of Christ remarks the following about David’s action:
‘To David, the water represents the lives of his friends and something more. It represents that which belongs only to God – ultimate loyalty. While unbiblical to drink blood, offering blood in sacrifice was commanded. The ultimate sacrifice was when Jesus forsook his life for His friends; and when the solider pierced His side with a spear, out came blood and water (John 19.34). It was crazy for David’s friends to do this, so David would not drink it. And by not drinking the water, he stood by his friends as their loyal equal, all unequal to God.
Christians are at war, with and against Hell. We must stand beside each during dark times. Our loyalty is to one another, even willing to die for one another and “The Cause.” But our loyalty, love, lives, deaths, our service and our shed blood, is really love and loyalty to Another. Love begets loyalty. Let us stand together. And in doing so, we bow together in loyalty to God.’ ****

What can we learn from David’s leadership?:

 David’s strength was in relationship with God, his followers saw this
 He made many mistakes yet always quick to repent and make right
 He gave honor where it was due
 He submitted himself to leadership even when it hurt

Water is an important issue in the Word of God with many references made to it for example:

*Mark 9:41 NKJV

*1 Kings 17:10 NKJV

*Eph 5:25-30 KNJV

*John 19:34 New King James Version (NKJV)

*1 John 5:6 New King James Version (NKJV)


So many wonderful truths may be gleamed from 2 Samuel about leadership and sacrifice. The most important is this: when we are in leadership, whether we are leading people or people follow us, the crucial aspect should always be: submission to authority. If we do not submit to authority then we can not expect others to submit to us. The way we treat those that submit to us should be in accordance to the Word of God, always remembering that Jesus is our example and our great Leader. David was loyal to those who were loyal to him and he knew how to treat people. Let us always remember to do the same by the grace and the anointing of the Spirit of God....



* Gannett Health Services http://www.gannett.cornell.edu/topics/stress

**Expositor's Bible Commentaryhttp://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/view.cgi?bk=9&ch=23

*** F.B Meyer’s ‘Through the Bible’ Commentary http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbm/view.cgi?bk=9&ch=23

**** Phall Winston Salem Church of Christ http://www.wschurch.com/praying-through-the-bible/praying-through-the-bible-106-2-samuel-2313-17-a-prayer-of-loyal-equality/

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