David remarked longingly to his men, “Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem.” So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But David refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out as an offering to the Lord. “God forbid that I should drink this!” he exclaimed. “This water is as precious as the blood of these men who risked their lives to bring it to me.” So David did not drink it. These are examples of the exploits of the Three.
(1 Chronicles 11:17-19)
“Jash, David’s thirsty. We need to go get him some water.”
He looked at me like I was crazy. “So go get him some water.”
“That’s the thing, sir. I was with him at the cistern. The water’s brackish. He took a sip and said he wished he could get some water from the well at Bethlehem.”
“Suit up. I’ll go get Eleazar.”
I smiled. I knew he would understand. This wasn’t just a quick trip down the hill to the local well. This was a challenge. We are the three. This is what we live for.
A few minutes later Jashobeam was returning with Eleazar in tow. They were both fully suited as was I. Eli had a bucket in his hand. Jash, our first, had three straws.
“Short straw holds the bucket. Long straws get to do the killing.”
Of course, I get the short straw. It seems I am always drawing the short straw. I remember that one time I stood my ground as Philistines were dying all around me. The rest of the army had all run off but we Three have a motto “No Surrender. No Retreat.” So I stood there and killed and killed until the rest of the army regrouped and rejoined me. Afterwards, did I get any congratulations? No.
All Jash said was, “Beans. You risked your life for a field of beans?”
Eli just laughed and whispered, “If you stay there, we will come.”
So here I am now with the short straw. They get to draw their swords and I get to draw the water. Life is so not fair.
We left our camp and headed for theirs just before sundown. As was typical for the Philistines, the pickets were huddled together at a fire not really paying attention to their duties. Jash and Eli snuck behind the first two and slit their throats. I hit the third over the head with my bucket. Eli finished him off while Jash collected the cards the guards were playing. He looked up at me, “If you break that bucket, I will break your face.”
Oops. “Sorry, I just got caught up in the moment.”
“Well, keep your head in the game,” Eli said.
“Shhh. Let’s not get the whole camp down on us.”
Personally, I was more than willing to take on the whole camp. We could do it easy. But I guess that would end up getting the water all bloody and defeat the whole purpose. Looking at Eli, I could tell his thoughts were reflecting my own.
“C’mon” Jash said. “We don’t have all night. The King is thirsty.”
Things went smoothly from there right up until we had the water and were about to make our exit. A half asleep guard spotted us, rubbed his eyes, and shouted out, “Hebrews! hebrews in the camp!”
Eli grinned. Jash called to me, “C’mon, Shammah. Stay behind me. Whatever you do, don’t get any blood in that water.”
He was grinning too. Eli took point. Philistines came storming at us from the south. Most of them were only half dressed. One guy was completely naked except for his spear. You have to credit him for his zeal but not his wisdom. A fool move like that can cost him his head. Actually, it did. Literally.
For a few minutes, my job became incredibly difficult. Between the two of them, limbs and gore were flying everywhere. Things tend to come pouring out of a man much more easily when they aren’t wearing armor. I did my best to use Jash’s body as a shield against all the blood flying around. After a minute I took my helmet off and used that to help with the task. More than once, a fair bit of water came sloshing off the side, but I am proud to say that nothing went sloshing in.
Once we were well out of their camp, the Philistine “defense” tapered off. At this point more than a few cries of “the three” had gone up. A lot of soldiers would growl and look fierce but none were willing to close that distance. Not since we were clearly departing. As we backed into the woods and away from their camp, one man boasted, “We sure scared them off good.”
Eli started laughing until Jash punched his shoulder. “Keep quiet and let’s get this water back to the king.”
He turned to me, “Is it clean or do we have to go try again?”
I checked. “Nope. We’re good.”
Everyone back at our camp was up and waiting for us. They had heard the noise, took stock, and realized that we three were all missing. We came right up to David. The other two kneeled and I offered our bucket to the King. “You wanted water from the well at Bethlehem. My king, your wish is my command.”
Then what does he do? I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but that guy just tipped that stinking bucket over and poured it all on the ground. Are you serious? I kept my head bowed as he made some fine speech to his army, but I was getting quite red in the face. At my side, I could see Eli doing the same. All that effort. All that risk we had taken. All the work we had done and for what? Some mud on the ground.
React: How would I have reacted if I was one of the Three? I risk life and limb to please my King and he turns around and spills it out on the ground. Near the end of his life, Paul said that he has been poured out like a drink offering before God. I know that his metaphor is a different one that I am presenting here, but knowing some other things he wrote, I don’t think he would disagree with me on this point. Paul’s life was one of service, not glory. Everything he risked… Everything he suffered… If God wanted to simply pour it out on the ground to make a little mud, that would have been fine with him. His very life was a statement, “Here I am, my King. Do with me as You will.”
Am I willing to say the same even if it means that all I have accomplished is nothing more than mud? Am I willing to be obedient unto death even if I were to know that my only reward will be some wet dirt?
All I have is Yours. All I am is Yours. Do with me as You will. Let me always be giving You glory, not seeking my own. Let me ever be pursuing Your heart, not my own passions and pleasures. I surrender all to You, my King. Pour me out.