A Royal Afterthought
1 Chronicles 11:15-19
Now three of the thirty captains went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam…

This is a beautiful and touching episode in the military career of David. It brings out both the weakness and the strength of the Hebrew monarch.

I. THE KING'S MOMENTARY INCONSIDERATENESS. (Ver. 17.) David was not by any means thoughtless of his subjects. He was not made of the hard material of which some celebrated adventurers have been composed, which made them utterly heedless of the losses and sufferings of their followers. He had a warm and generous heart. But on this occasion he was betrayed into an inconsiderate act. When his thirst could not possibly be allayed without placing the lives of his men in the most imminent risk, he should have borne it in silence rather than have uttered his wish for water. He should have remembered that the wish of a sovereign would probably be interpreted as a command, or be seized upon as an occasion for distinction or a means of securing a large reward. To such default all men are liable. It requires unceasing prayer and sleepless vigilance to avoid being surprised and "overtaken in a fault."

II. THE DEVOTED LOYALTY OF HIS FOLLOWERS. (Ver. 18.) Three of his mighty men no sooner heard his utterance of strong desire than they set out to gratify it. Daring the utmost danger, their life in their hand, they "brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well." David had the rare faculty of attaching men to himself with enthusiastic devotion. He won, not only the fidelity, but the eager and loving devotion of his servants. Surely his "greater Son," the Prince of Peace, is far more worthy of the unhesitating, uncalculating devotion of his subjects. Surely they should eagerly watch his eye, should spring to do his bidding, should joyfully run greatest risks and make largest sacrifices to fulfil the good pleasure of his will.


1. David disallowed his own selfishness. It is our habit to cover our wrong deeds with plausible pretexts. Our ingenuity is generally equal to the discovery of reasons which will extenuate or justify our errors and our sins. David might have done the same had he been less worthy than he was. But he took the nobler course. He rebuked himself and disallowed his deed, He shrank from the act of profiting by his own inconsiderateness. God forbid... shall I drink the blood of these won," etc.? Well would it have been for this oppressed world of ours if its kings and rulers had always shrunk thus from" drinking the blood" of the people. In itself it is doubtless better not to err than to err and afterwards to withdraw, but it is difficult for us not to be glad that David was guilty of this momentary thoughtlessness, inasmuch as it was directly followed by this noble and most honourable afterthought, that he would not gratify his taste through an act which had imperilled the lives of his followers. It was the readiest and most practical way of rebuking himself.

2. He rose into the region of self-denial and devotion. He "poured it out to the Lord." He made it quite impossible for him to drink, and, at the same time, he offered an oblation unto the Lord. Seldom does so unpromising a commencement issue in so excellent an ending. But for the profoundly religious character of David, it would not have done so. We learn that:

(1) Deep-seated principles of piety and virtue should correct a mistake into which we may be surprised.

(2) That self-denial and devotion are truer triumphs than military conquests. We do not think much of Jashobeam's exploit (ver. 11), but we shall never forget this penitential, self-sacrificing deed of David. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now three of the thirty captains went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam; and the host of the Philistines encamped in the valley of Rephaim.

WEB: Three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam; and the army of the Philistines were encamped in the valley of Rephaim.

A Modern Hero
Top of Page
Top of Page