1 Chronicles 11:17
David longed for water and said, "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!"
David's Mighty MenF. Whitfield 1 Chronicles 11:10-25
The Moral of the Mighty MenW. Clarkson 1 Chronicles 11:10-14, 20-47
A Modern HeroSunday Companion1 Chronicles 11:15-19
A Royal AfterthoughtW. Clarkson 1 Chronicles 11:15-19
Jashobeam, and Courageous CompanionsJ. Hastings.1 Chronicles 11:15-19
Longing for the Associations of Child-HoodJ. Parker, D. D.1 Chronicles 11:15-19
Self-ForgetfulnessA. Froude.1 Chronicles 11:15-19
The Water of the Well of BethlehemT. Rhys Evans.1 Chronicles 11:15-19
Water Poured Out as a LibationT. De Witt Talmage.1 Chronicles 11:15-19
The Well of BethlehemJ.R. Thomson 1 Chronicles 11:16-19
David's Drink OfferingR. Tuck 1 Chronicles 11:17-19

This incident is narrated also in 2 Samuel 23:13-17. The "hold" that is mentioned is probably the frontier fortress of Adullam, on the Philistine border, "which, from its strength and position and the neighbourhood of the caverns, was judged by David to be the best place of defence against the invasions of the Philistines." Robinson says, "There is no well of living water in or near the town of Bethlehem." "There is, however, a cistern of 'deep, clear, cool water,' called by the monks David's well, about three-quarters of a mile to the north of Bethlehem. Possibly the old well has been filled up since the town was supplied with water by the aqueduct." Josephus speaks of the well as being near the gate. David would not drink of the water when it was brought him, for this reason - he looked upon it, not as water, but as blood, seeing that it had been procured at the hazard of men's lives; and, knowing that it was forbidden by the Law to drink blood (Leviticus 17:11, 12), he poured it out upon the ground as a solemn offering unto the Lord, and as a thanksgiving for the preservation of their lives.

I. DAVID'S HOME FEELINGS. In him there was strong family affection. This is seen in his relations with his grown-up sons. There was also strong attachment to his early home, the place of his youthful associations. Strong home feeling is usually found in the inhabitants of hilly and mountainous countries; as may be illustrated from the mal-du-pays, the characteristic sickness of the Swiss when away from their mountains. It does not appear that David did more than give utterance to a suddenly conceived wish. It was an impulsive utterance, which he did not mean should be taken as a command. Herein is given us a lesson on the importance of guarding carefully our speech, watching the door of our lips. He is not wise who utters all he feels. It is a great grace to be enabled to keep silence.

II. THE DEVOTION OF DAVID'S FOLLOWERS. This is one of the most interesting features of the incident. It brings to view the relations between David and his men, and helps us to realize the fascination which David exerted. Some men have this power over their fellows - a gracious power, if they use it to lead their fellow-men to higher and holier things; a fatal power, if they make it the means of dragging others down to their own doom. It may be pointed out that special gifts ensure this kind of leadership. Of these, grace of body, generosity of disposition, a skill of getting on others level, an absence of stir-assertive pride, and a winning geniality of manner, are important. If God gives grace of natural disposition, such as wins for us general favour, let us remember that this brings its holy burden of responsibility.

III. THE PROWESS IN WHICH DEVOTION FOUND EXPRESSION. Estimate it from a military point of view. It could but be regarded as a "foolhardy "enterprise; and yet the very suddenness and dash of it almost guaranteed its success. To gratify a wish these men would imperil their lives.

IV. THE PIOUS ESTIMATE OF THE VALUE OF LIFE. This tended to bind David's followers yet more closely to him. Such considerateness for them showed his loving and thoughtful and pious character. It was worth while serving one who eared for them so tenderly. Compare Wellington's personal interest in his soldiers, and the personal enthusiasm which he created. The sense of the value of human life is the very foundation of social morality, it stays man's hand from being lifted up against his fellow-man. And respect for man's best treasure - his life - finds varied expression in respect for all his other treasures and possessions. We will not injure him, in his life, nor in taking anything that is his. Lead on to show how the value of life is enhanced when we add to it two considerations -

(1) Man's immortality;

(2) man's salvation, through a sacrifice of infinite value. - R.T.

Now three of the thirty captains went down to the rock to David.
This incident, although it rests upon a basis of conspicuous bravery, evidently owes its cardinal importance to far deeper considerations. Some might be tempted to think that David's conduct in pouring out the water was fantastic and wasteful — an ill-timed intrusion of a poetic sentiment on the stern realities of life. On the contrary his conduct is penetrated with the sense of the value of life, with deep appreciation of heroism and with a high-minded shrinking from any mean appropriation of the unselfish devotion of his fellow-men. Some lives there are that whatever is done for them are never thrilled by any self-abasing surprise; no sacrifice is above their merit — their bottomless egotism could swallow worlds.


1. Those in whom is developed the undue love of command and the imperious appetite for personal distinction. The monarchs of the older world who remorselessly sacrificed blood and treasure to build themselves impregnable cities, or to erect stately sepulchres. The Eastern chieftain who bade his warrior take the needless death-leap. Napoleon Bonaparte.

2. In those simply selfish ones who have not yet risen high enough to afford themselves the luxury of tyranny. Their maxim is "Everybody for himself." I have heard of a farmer, whose parcel of ground one might ride round in a couple of hours, express an eager desire for a war between two great powers, since it would probably enrich him. Merchants and millowners have not been free from such wishes. All this is to batten on flesh and blood.

3. In the indifferent many of us are like the receivers of stolen property, only too satisfied to receive and to ask no questions. We expect all the machinery of our life to work with regularity, but are coldly indifferent to the means. Let us learn from David a view of life diviner and therefore more humane.


1. Historically. Whole civilisations lie behind us; the Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Greek, and Roman — each has contributed its quota and we inherit the best of each. Do we reflect, with sufficient gratitude to God and man, on that costly part of which we are — the result?

2. The present day. Our life is enriched by the multitudinous toil of those who remain unknown, and often scantily rewarded. David's words are not without meaning to us under existing social conditions.

3. Let us step on to more personal ground.(1) Some of us are where we are through the wonderful devotion of our parents.(2) Some of us, later on in life, have been saved by the generous resolve and clinging faithfulness of those whom it cost a great effort to befriend us.


1. Solemn thoughtfulness. What are we that all this should have been done for us? We ought to learn reverence for that majesty of history which the children of the market-place deride. We ought to view our privileges with a more anxious sense of responsibility.

2. The acceptance of such services as have been referred to is inevitable, for we cannot unmake history or sever ourselves from the complex influences of the present order of society. But what does rest in every man's power is to form his own estimate of the value of such services and to decide what use their sacred splendour or gentle unselfishness urge him to put them to.

3. The impulse to self-abnegation which we see in David. This is the practical tendency of all such lives and deeds. The legend of Curtius, self-devoted that he might save the State, may have been simply a concrete personification of the general patriotism of early Rome; but it gave memorable impulses to later generations. It was not absent from the mind of Regulus; it helped to cheer the Roman legions in Parthia and Persia and amid the German swamps and forests. God has set our lives in a framework of noble and unceasing sacrifice. In this old Jewish story we have a significant though undesigned illustration of the transcendent sacrifice of Christ. He has brought us the true "living water."

(T. Rhys Evans.)

It was just like David with his intense nature to speak and act in the way recorded in these verses. Just as an Italian in a northern region longs for the fruits and blue skies of his own land, so David longed for the water. We have here —

I. A MANIFESTATION OF DEVOTED LOYALTY. What ought we to venture for our King Jesus?

II. HIGH APPRECIATION OF SERVICE. David pours it out before the Lord as the only One who is worthy to receive so great a sacrifice. Some might blame him for appearing to throw a slight on the act of the brave men — judicious waste. Some had indignation when the woman broke the alabaster box of ointment over Christ's feet; but He looked at it in another light — He approved that loving, loyal, lavish "waste." Only selfish souls could be indifferent to the lives of others. His act was not like that of the Pasha in the Russo-Turkish war who, when English doctors went to him at a great cost, eager to help the wounded Turkish soldiers, repulsed them and firmly declined to receive their services. What ought to be our feeling towards our King who has broken through the ranks of evil, to gain for us the water of Life?

(J. Hastings.)

There are times in life when our childhood comes up with new meaning and with new appeal. We long for the old homestead, for the mountains which girdled us round in early life, for the friends who heard our first speech and answered our first desires; we want to leave the far country and go home again, and, forgetting all the burden of the past, start life with all that is richest in experience. Any water would have quenched David's thirst, but there are times when mere necessaries are not enough; we must have the subtle touch, the mysterious association, the romantic impulse, all the poetry of life. In our spiritual life we cannot be satisfied with great conceptions, brilliant thoughts, miracles of genius, words employed by the tongue of the master; we need a tone, a look, a touch, a peculiar and distinctive something which belongs to the very root and core of life, being charged with a poetry and a force all its own.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Some years ago in the State House of Georgia, at Atlanta, this scene occurred: A coloured minister, standing in the State House, said he was thirsty, and he was looking for something to drink. A white gentleman standing by, said, "I'll get you a drink," and departed from the room. As the white gentleman was coming back with a glass of water for this black clergyman some one said to the clergyman, "Do you know who that is who is bringing you a glass of water?" "No I who is it?" "That is Governor Colquitt." Then the black man took the glass of water and said, "Thank you, Governor, but I cannot drink this under such circumstances," and he poured it on the floor, saying: "I pour this out as a libation on the altar of Christian feeling between the two races." Dramatic? Yes, but Christian.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Sunday Companion.
A window in the chapel of the Lichfield Cathedral has a special meaning. It is one of several windows presented by the officers and men who had served in New Zealand during the Maori War, in token of their gratitude for Bishop Selwyn's attention to their welfare in that campaign. It is a medallion depicting David in the act of pouring out the longed-for "water of the well of Bethlehem," procured for him by "the three mighty men" at the risk of their lives. This medallion commemorates the similar heroic action of a Christian Maori who had been a pupil of Dr. Selwyn's when he was Bishop of New Zealand. This Maori, Henere Taratoa, when the war broke out, felt hound to join his tribe. He was placed in charge of a fortified village known as the formidable "Gate Psalm" The British troops stormed the pa, and were repulsed with great slaughter. Several wounded officers were left inside the village, mad one of them feebly moaned for water. There was no water to be had, the nearest being within the British lines. At night this young Christian Maori crept down, at the risk of his life, within the line of English sentries, filled a vessel with water, and carried it back to the pa to refresh his dying enemy's lips. The next day the British again stormed the place, and Henere was killed. On his person was found the text of Holy Scripture which had suggested the deed: "If thine enemy thirst, give him drink!"

(Sunday Companion.)

That which especially distinguishes a high order of man from a low order of man — that which constitutes human goodness, human nobleness — is surely not the degree of enlightenment with which men pursue their own advantage; but it is self-forgetful. hess, it is self-sacrifice, it is the disregard of personal pleasure and personal indulgence, personal advantages remote or present.

(A. Froude.)

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