2 Samuel 23:17
saying, "Far be it from me, O LORD, to do this! Is this not the blood of the men who risked their lives?" So he refused to drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty men.
CourageJ. Thain Davidson, D. D.2 Samuel 23:13-17
Energetic MenChristian Weekly2 Samuel 23:13-17
Longing for the Water of the Well of BethlehemF. B. Meyer, B. A.2 Samuel 23:13-17
The Dear-Bought DraughtJ. McNeill.2 Samuel 23:13-17
The Well of BethlehemJ. Stuart.2 Samuel 23:13-17
The Well of BethlehemB. Dale 2 Samuel 23:13-17
Love, Courage, and Stir-SacrificeG. Wood 2 Samuel 23:15-17
The Sacredness of LifeJ. T. L. Maggs, B. A.2 Samuel 23:16-17
WasteH. Macmillan, D. D.2 Samuel 23:16-17

This narrative is highly creditable to both David and these three brave men. It shows the power he had of awakening in his soldiers passionate attachment and devotedness to himself, his high appreciation of such qualities, and, at the same time his unwillingness that they should be displayed in enterprises which hazarded precious lives for no corresponding advantage. In the pouring of the water out as an offering unto the Lord, because it was too costly and sacred for ordinary use, "pure chivalry and pure religion found an absolute union" (Dean Stanley). On the other hand, the heroism of these men, stirred by their love and loyalty to their chief, although displayed in a rash enterprise, is worthy of great admiration. We are reminded of similar qualities found amongst the servants of the Son of David, our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice -


1. They show sincere and practical regard to his every wish. They do not need explicit commands in detail, still less accompanying threatenings. Enough if they can ascertain what he desires; and their love for him and converse with him enable them to know his wishes without definite verbal revelations or laws. A large portion of the life of many modern Christians, especially in the departments of Christian zeal and benevolence, is founded on no express command, but springs from love and sympathy - from that participation of the Spirit of Christ which produces intuitive discernment of his will, and that devoted attachment which prompts to the gratification of his every wish.

2. They are ready to encounter danger in his service. The work of Christ makes at times great demands on love, zeal, and courage. It cannot be done without hazard; but his true-hearted friends are prepared to endure the toil and brave the peril. Not a few in our own day may be described as "men that have hazarded their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 15:26). This spirit of Christian heroism is not confined to the more hardy races, but among' the softer tribes of Polynesia and India, the knowledge, of Christ has produced a similar courage. Converted natives offer themselves for service in the most dangerous fields of missionary enterprise; and when some fall at the hand of savages, or through attacks of deadly diseases, others eagerly press forward to take the vacant places. The language of St. Paul is still the language of faithful Christians, "None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself," etc.; "I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die... for the Name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 20:24; Acts 21:13).

3. They are sometimes moved to extraordinary manifestations of their regard. Like the three heroes whose exploit is here recorded. Like Mary in her lavish anointing of her Lord (John 12:3). Warm love prompts to generous deeds and gifts. There is need of these in the service of Christ; and if ardent love to him were more common, they would be more frequent. Love should, however, submit to the guidance of wisdom, lest it become wasteful or injurious. Our Lord will accept mistaken offerings, but it is well that the offerings should themselves be such as he can approve. One safeguard against mistake is the remembrance that he desires no display of love which is fantastic or useless, no self-denial or daring which answers no proportionate end in the advancement of his kingdom and the promotion of the good either of our own souls or of our fellow men. There is abundant room for all possible generosity, self-denial, and bravery in the practical service of Christ and man; to expend these in fruitless ways is to expose our works to condemnation, however good and acceptable may be our motives. We are to serve God with our reason as well as our feelings.


1. His self-sacrificing love for them. "The love of Christ constraineth us" (2 Corinthians 5:14) is their sufficient answer to any who allege that they are "beside themselves" (2 Corinthians 5:13). His love requires and justifies the utmost consecration to him of heart and life.

2. His injunctions. He claims from all who follow him that they should love him more than their nearest relations more than their own life (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26), and that, in serving him, they should be fearless of death (Luke 12:4).

3. His example. Of love to the Father, and complete devotedness to his will and glory (John 14:31; John 4:34; Matthew 26:39, 42; John 12:27, 28).

4. The effects of such love. In purifying and ennobling the character of those who cherish it, and promoting through them the well being of mankind. It is love for all excellence, stimulates to its pursuit and greatly aids its attainment. It is the inspiration and support of the highest and most persistent benevolence; for he who is loved is the Incarnation of Divine holiness and love, and the great Friend and Benefactor of the human race, and the return he asks for his love to us is not a barren, sentimental devotion, but practical obedience (John 14:15, 21, 23), and especially a fruitful love to our brethren (John 15:12-14; 1 John 3:16-18), whom he teaches us to regard as being himself (Matthew 25:35-45). Love to Jesus Christ has been, and still is, the strongest motive-power in the world in favour of all godliness and goodness.

5. Its rewards. Love to Christ is not mercenary, and makes no stipulation for recompense. It is its own reward. Yet in the midst of a cold and unbelieving world it needs all supports. These are to be found in the assurance of the approval and affection of Christ himself, and of the Father (John 14:21, 23; John 16:27), and the prospect of sharing the glory and joy of Christ forever (John 17:24; 2 Timothy 4:8; Matthew 19:29; James 1:12; James 2:5). On the other hand, to be destitute of love to Christ is to be lost (1 Corinthians 16:22). - G.W.

Nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out before the Lord.
This event is probably to be referred to the time which immediately succeeded David's accession to the throne over an undivided people. (2 Samuel 5:3, 17.)

I. THE SACREDNESS OF LIFE. To the Hebrew the blood was the vital principle (Genesis 4:4.) Hence it was not to be eaten. Even the blood of a hunted animal or bird was to be reverently covered with dust (Leviticus 17:13.) Because of its sacredness it was used in the temple worship in acts of consecration (Exodus 29:20), and in acts of propitiation (Leviticus 4:6), and in its Divine sacredness, as flowing from the Incarnate Word, it was poured out for, that "full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." So, too, the solemn act of David expressed the fact that life is a sacred thing.

1. With what mysteries is it linked, and mankind has ever associated the mysterious with the sacred. In what manner did life, in its most rudimentary form, enter into a world that till then had been lifeless? How wondrous is the chain of life — each following link made of more precious material arid more "curiously wrought" — that runs up from its first appearing to man, to the angels, and to the Eternal!

2. How strangely is life interwoven with life, husband and wife, child and parent, brother and brother, friend and friend. Weakness is linked to strength, and folly to wisdom; while the weakness that is wise is helped by and vet delivers the strength that is foolish. "No man liveth to himself" in the economy of God.

3. What possibilities lie undeveloped in life. The child that slumbers in its cradle may be a Croesus, a Raphael, a Napoleon, a Shakespeare, a Luther. Even when life's first stages may seem to justify a forecast of the future, what possibilities remain to us in virtue of diligence, application, fortitude, or through that overruling of things which we name fortune.

4. The everlastingness of its issues makes life sacred. The character it fashions lasts. Any chord once made to vibrate — be it of feeling or thought, or word, or act, or influence — may vibrate for ever. Death far from ending rather reveals life's issues.

5. Yet in the fact that the Son of God took to Himself a human nature, lived a human life in its varied stages as babe and boy, as youth and man, has life obtained its weightiest and indelible sanctity.

II. WHAT IS GAINED BY LIFE'S RISK PARTAKES OF LIFE'S SANCTITY. Unharmed the three returned bearing with them a draught of water for which their king and captain had longed. It was the Balaclava of Israelitish history — an act of fruitless bravery, a blunder only possible to heroes — though less fatal in its consequences. Had a warrior been lost then regret for the foolish wish might have prompted the libation. But though no evil had overtaken them the "jeopardy" had made the water bleed-like and sacred, and lie "poured it out unto the Lord."

1. Things necessary when purchased by life's risk partake of this sacredness. Every life sacrificed in the service of mankind makes man a debtor, and sets the seal of sanctity upon the survivors. The substitute for the conscript who dies upon the battlefield, the fireman who perishes at his task, the lifeboatman who falls a victim to the raging sea, the physician and nurse who die saving the patient, should make these whom they ransom at so great a cost feel that every breath they draw is no common but a most sacred thing.

2. But things of convenience, hardly of necessity, are purchased at the same cost, and obtain a like sanctity. Our boasted and elaborate civilisation is costly in lives. To some it gives comfort and days, for others it shortens the span of existence. And the civilisation which lengthens life is largely dispensible; life without these blessings would be possible, though far less enjoyable. Men could still live in wattled huts and warm themselves with a wood or turf fire. There need be no coal fire, no steam engine, no railway travelling, no great engineering works such as we are accustomed to. Yet, how many and terrible are the disasters to life and limb, which have given us these advantages, and to our nation so much of her wealth. Very costly are many of the comforts and conveniences of our modern civilisation. The cutlery which, bright and sharp, lies upon our dining table, has meant a reduction of the years of life to the grinders who gave it edge. In many of the chemical and mechanical processes which furnish us the conveniences of modern life there is a similar sacrifice of the health and life of the workers. We should shrink from doing without these things; deprived of them men would question if life be worth living; but in the use of things purchased at such a cost let us remember that cost; it would give an earnestness to much of the morally relaxed life we live, could we see these things bedabbled with the blood that procured them.

3. Still more must we feel our responsibility when whims are gratified by the risk of life. That water from the well by the gate was not a necessity; it was the gratification of a sentiment; And it was the sense that life had been jeoparded for a sentiment that made David treat it as he did.

III. There are two directions in which these words have THEIR BEARING UPON MODERN LIFE.

1. Employment means employment of life, the hiring of blood. To say a man employs so many "hands" is to mention the least important of the powers he gets a claim upon. He employs lives, hearts, characters; souls that must live for ever, destinies that never become spent. But these lives must be regarded as sacred things, and every employer should bear with him the solemn sense of responsibility. If he feels as David felt, "Is it not the blood of those men who jeoparded their lives?" he will give in respect of those who serve him every care for life and for health. Such a man would never send men to sea in an unworthy ship, or to work with deficient apparatus, or expose them to the peril of a risky boiler. Neither should the moral perils of employees be forgotten. No man can justly retain as foreman a man of good ability but bad morals. No clerk should be asked to pen a letter that goes against his moral convictions; no traveller should be permitted to feel he must get orders by means which are not "as the noonday clear," The wealth that comes from ruined health, lost lives, seared consciences, damned souls, "is it not the blood of these men?"

2. Perhaps it is well to remember that most persons are the employers of those who afford amusement. The stern Puritan days are largely past, and the average Christian man does not refrain from public spectacles on the high principle that "the world passeth away and the fashion thereof." But dare men believing in the Bible countenance amusements involving the risk of life; did not the early church bring to an end the cruel sport of the Roman amphitheatre? should not such sports as to-day involve the health and lives of those who afford others pleasure be discountenanced, and by moral influence suppressed by the followers of Christ. When we see in the coveted water from the well that is by the gate, in the gratification we have or craved, the whim we have indulged, the needless convenience we have thoughtlessly enjoyed — "the blood of men who have jeoparded their lives" — then will a solemn sense of life's sacredness steal upon us, and we shall pray, "Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God."

(J. T. L. Maggs, B. A.)

We speak of things being wasted when they are not used, or when they are used for an inferior purpose to that which was originally intended. But waste is a relative term; and in these economic days some of the most valuable products have been obtained from substances that used to be thrown out as utter refuse. The most brilliant colours are got from the waste of gas manufacture; the sweetest perfumes and most delicate flavourings from the offal of the street; and the mounds of rubbish excavated from the placer mines of California have formed ever since the most fertile soil, in which have grown harvests far more valuable than their richest gold. That which is said to be wasted is often more precious than that which is employed for some utilitarian purpose. The well of Bethlehem was associated with the happiest days of David's life, when, as a shepherd boy, without any care or trouble, he drank of it, and went on his way rejoicing. The heat and burden of the day had consumed him in the beleaguered garrison, and the thought of that water was to him like the beautiful mirage — the desert's dream of dewy fields and sparkling streams. And yet, when a goblet full of the clear cold water was put into his bands, and he was free to drink and slake his burning thirst, he would not take it. His spirit rose above his languid frame and asserted its superiority. He nobly denied himself what his body weakly craved. Some might call such spilling of the water upon the ground an uncalled-for waste, and might blame David severely for appearing to lightly esteem the act of the brave men. What though the water had been procured at the cost of so much trouble and danger, did not that circumstance enhance its value? Was it not the very reason why it should not have been thrown away? The worst use to which it could be put was surely to pour it upon the dry ground, where it would do no good to living thing, but would speedily evaporate into the hot air, and leave no trace behind. We have all heard such selfish reasonings, and witnessed such penurious prudence in regard to similar acts of apparently rash generosity. But though the narrow-minded, capable only of the most short-sighted policy, may condemn it, every enlightened conscience, every generous heart, must deeply feel that David's act of seeming wastefulness was in reality one of the noblest in his life. It would have been selfish in him to drink the water; but it was the height of unselfishness to refuse to drink it. By not using it, he put it to the highest use. By pouring it out upon the ground, seeming to waste it, he put a far greater value upon it than could possibly have been done if it had been used only to slake his thirst. Drunk, it would have refreshed the parched lips of David for a moment, and then the incident would have been forgotten. The draught of water would have accomplished its purpose, and that would have been the end of it for ever. But by being refused, by being wasted upon the ground,, and offered as a libation to the Lord of heaven and earth, its use remained unexhausted, its memory would be for ever cherished. To all generations the deed will he spoken of as one of the finest examples of generous self-denial and pious gratitude; and it will have an inspiring effect upon all who come to know of it, inducing them to practice similar self-denial and devotion in their own lives. The water spilt upon the ground in this way, which could not be gathered up again, rose up to heaven, a beautiful cloud gilded by the sun, to adorn the sky, to be seen and admired of all eyes, and to fall again in fertilising rain and dew upon ground that, but for it would have been for ever barren.

(H. Macmillan, D. D.)

Abialbon, Abiel, Abiezer, Abishai, Adino, Agee, Ahasbai, Ahiam, Ahithophel, Anathoth, Ariel, Asahel, Azmaveth, Baanah, Bani, Benaiah, Benjamin, Benjaminites, David, Dodai, Dodo, Eleazar, Elhanan, Eliahba, Eliam, Elika, Eliphelet, Gareb, Heldai, Heleb, Helez, Hezrai, Hezro, Hiddai, Igal, Ikkesh, Ira, Ithai, Ittai, Jacob, Jashen, Jehoiada, Jesse, Joab, Jonathan, Maharai, Mebunnai, Naharai, Nahari, Nathan, Paarai, Ribai, Shammah, Sharar, Sibbecai, Uriah, Zalmon, Zelek, Zeruiah
Adullam, Anathoth, Bahurim, Beeroth, Bethlehem, Carmel, Gaash, Gath, Gibeah, Gilo, Harod, Jerusalem, Kabzeel, Lehi, Maacah, Moab, Netophah, Pirathon, Tekoa, Valley of Rephaim, Zobah
Blood, Danger, David, Drink, Exploits, Isn't, Jeopardy, Life-blood, Mighty, O, Ones, Risk, War, Willing
1. David, in his last words, professes his faith in God's promises
6. The different state of the wicked
8. A catalogue of David's mighty men

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Samuel 23:8-21

     5776   achievement

2 Samuel 23:8-23

     1652   numbers, 3-5

2 Samuel 23:8-39

     5544   soldiers

2 Samuel 23:13-17

     5087   David, reign of

2 Samuel 23:15-17

     5310   exploitation

The Dying King's Last vision and Psalm
'Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, 2. The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue. 3. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. 4. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

A Libation to Jehovah
'And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Beth-lehem, 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 Beth-lehem, 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
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Royal Jubilee
[Footnote: Preached on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.] '... He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. 4. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.'--2 SAMUEL xxiii. 3, 4. One of the Psalms ascribed to David sounds like the resolves of a new monarch on his accession. In it the Psalmist draws the ideal of a king, and says such
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

David's Dying Song
We shall notice first, that the Psalmist had sorrow in his house--" Although my house be not so with God." Secondly, he had confidence in the covenant--" yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant." And thirdly, he had satisfaction in his heart, for he says--" this is all my salvation, and all my desire. I. The Psalmist says he had sorrow in his house--"Although my house be not so with God." What man is there of all our race, who, if he had to write his history, would not need to use a great
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 1: 1855

Covenanting Sanctioned by the Divine Example.
God's procedure when imitable forms a peculiar argument for duty. That is made known for many reasons; among which must stand this,--that it may be observed and followed as an example. That, being perfect, is a safe and necessary pattern to follow. The law of God proclaims what he wills men as well as angels to do. The purposes of God show what he has resolved to have accomplished. The constitutions of his moral subjects intimate that he has provided that his will shall be voluntarily accomplished
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

The Christian's Book
Scripture references 2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:20,21; John 5:39; Romans 15:4; 2 Samuel 23:2; Luke 1:70; 24:32,45; John 2:22; 10:35; 19:36; Acts 1:16; Romans 1:1,2; 1 Corinthians 15:3,4; James 2:8. WHAT IS THE BIBLE? What is the Bible? How shall we regard it? Where shall we place it? These and many questions like them at once come to the front when we begin to discuss the Bible as a book. It is only possible in this brief study, of a great subject, to indicate the line of some of the answers.
Henry T. Sell—Studies in the Life of the Christian

Thoughts Upon the Appearance of Christ the Sun of Righteousness, or the Beatifick vision.
SO long as we are in the Body, we are apt to be governed wholly by its senses, seldom or never minding any thing but what comes to us through one or other of them. Though we are all able to abstract our Thoughts when we please from matter, and fix them upon things that are purely spiritual; there are but few that ever do it. But few, even among those also that have such things revealed to them by God himself, and so have infinitely more and firmer ground to believe them, than any one, or all their
William Beveridge—Private Thoughts Upon a Christian Life

The Truth of God
The next attribute is God's truth. A God of truth and without iniquity; just and right is he.' Deut 32:4. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.' Psa 57:10. Plenteous in truth.' Psa 86:15. I. God is the truth. He is true in a physical sense; true in his being: he has a real subsistence, and gives a being to others. He is true in a moral sense; he is true sine errore, without errors; et sine fallacia, without deceit. God is prima veritas, the pattern and prototype
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Covenanting According to the Purposes of God.
Since every revealed purpose of God, implying that obedience to his law will be given, is a demand of that obedience, the announcement of his Covenant, as in his sovereignty decreed, claims, not less effectively than an explicit law, the fulfilment of its duties. A representation of a system of things pre-determined in order that the obligations of the Covenant might be discharged; various exhibitions of the Covenant as ordained; and a description of the children of the Covenant as predestinated
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

The Work of the Holy Spirit in Prophets and Apostles.
The work of the Holy Spirit in apostles and prophets is an entirely distinctive work. He imparts to apostles and prophets an especial gift for an especial purpose. We read in 1 Cor. xii. 4, 8-11, 28, 29, R. V., "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.... For to one is given through the Spirit wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; to another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, in the one Spirit; and to another workings
R. A. Torrey—The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit

The Blessings of Noah Upon Shem and Japheth. (Gen. Ix. 18-27. )
Ver. 20. "And Noah began and became an husbandman, and planted vineyards."--This does not imply that Noah was the first who began to till the ground, and, more especially, to cultivate the vine; for Cain, too, was a tiller of the ground, Gen. iv. 2. The sense rather is, that Noah, after the flood, again took up this calling. Moreover, the remark has not an independent import; it serves only to prepare the way for the communication of the subsequent account of Noah's drunkenness. By this remark,
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

The Deity of the Holy Spirit.
In the preceding chapter we have seen clearly that the Holy Spirit is a Person. But what sort of a Person is He? Is He a finite person or an infinite person? Is He God? This question also is plainly answered in the Bible. There are in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments five distinct and decisive lines of proof of the Deity of the Holy Spirit. I. Each of the four distinctively Divine attributes is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. What are the distinctively Divine attributes? Eternity, omnipresence,
R. A. Torrey—The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit

How is Christ, as the Life, to be Applied by a Soul that Misseth God's Favour and Countenance.
The sixth case, that we shall speak a little to, is a deadness, occasioned by the Lord's hiding of himself, who is their life, and "the fountain of life," Ps. xxxvi. 9, and "whose loving-kindness is better than life," Ps. lxiii. 3, and "in whose favour is their life," Ps. xxx. 5. A case, which the frequent complaints of the saints manifest to be rife enough, concerning which we shall, 1. Shew some of the consequences of the Lord's hiding his face, whereby the soul's case will appear. 2. Shew the
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Thoughts Upon the Mystery of the Trinity.
THOUGH there be many in the World that seem to be Religious, there are but few that are so: One great Reason whereof is, because there are so many Mistakes about Religion, that it is an hard matter to hit upon the true Notion of it: And therefore desiring nothing in this World, so much as to be an Instrument in God's Hand to direct Men unto true Religion, my great Care must, and, by the Blessing of God, shall be to instil into them right Conceptions of him, that is the only Object of all Religious
William Beveridge—Private Thoughts Upon a Christian Life

The Covenant of Grace
Q-20: DID GOD LEAVE ALL MANKIND TO PERISH 1N THE ESTATE OF SIN AND MISERY? A: No! He entered into a covenant of grace to deliver the elect out of that state, and to bring them into a state of grace by a Redeemer. 'I will make an everlasting covenant with you.' Isa 55:5. Man being by his fall plunged into a labyrinth of misery, and having no way left to recover himself, God was pleased to enter into a new covenant with him, and to restore him to life by a Redeemer. The great proposition I shall go
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book[1] of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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