“David longed for water and said, ‘Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!’”
II Samuel 23:15
Here is a shepherd king with a deep, passionate longing for a taste of the water he once drank in his childhood. But his desire was seen like one that was impossible at worst and improbable at best! The reason was that at the time the town of Bethlehem was surrounded by the Philistines, who had invaded. It was a besieged city surrounded by an enemy camp spread out on every side.
David has come there on a reconnaissance mission, during the night, to survey the depressing situation. From a strategic point he looks down on his home town with a thousand living memories and he expresses, almost at a whisper, this yearning and desire. Yet, his words are overheard by his most courageous men gathered around him.
David wanted the impossible, just like many people today. “Oh, for a drink of those wonderful waters that represent so much of my past!” That was his wanting expression—it was a profound longing in his heart.
That’s the Biblical setting. Cannot you see yourself in this expressed desire? How often we look back at what once was in our life. Much like David, the door of memory swings open and you recall your “Bethlehem days,” your childhood, your youth with all the bright promises. Possibly you recall a time when your life did not have the stain of sin on it. To a simple time without guilt. There was no sense of failure or the parade of mistakes, shortcomings and bad judgments. Do you have a memory of life before the constant “sick hurry” and the divided aims and a full program of meaningless activities? How many regrets do you have?
But your past mistakes are always going to be the way it was; you cannot change it, it is finished and nothing is gained by retracing it in one’s mind. Woody Allen tried to be funny and said, “My one regret in life is that I am not somebody else!” Someone once said, “A bad moment often is temporary, but a bad memory is often forever!” And some of us have them following us step by step, day by day like a bloodhound barking relentlessly on your trail.
A woman had made real mistakes in her younger years, yet she said, “Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build on it, not really, it is good only for wallowing in it!” We can lose time vainly recounting the past or blaming others—it can be a dark prison to hold you. Living with the failures of the past is a lonely, wretched business! The mistakes of the past make some people live in gloom, missing the miracles of today and the possibilities of tomorrow; make that the focus, live in the glory of what can be.
And David, the warrior king, was a man with memories he would give anything to forget—how many of us would love to have days to relive? A man said, “If I had just five days to live over, my life would be totally different!” But let’s stop and think—this is not a dress rehearsal—it’s life—this is the one and only life we have here!
But we know we cannot turn back the clock. Life is not like a game of checkers—there are no back moves. And I am confident that when David spoke those words, it was not simply a physical thirst, it was a longing. The university girl cried to her father after a bad semester at the university when her grades plummeted, “I am longing for something, but I do not know what it is!” Can you identify with that heart-cry? For many, something is missing; what, they can’t say.
And sometimes it’s the burden of what is before you that makes you cry out for the simple days of yesteryear. David, for example, faced the burden of real enemies. Maybe you have a desire to escape, for your life could not be heavier or harder! Have you looked at life as David looked at Bethlehem, to see all the barriers that block the road? David saw the enemies’ campfires that denied him access to the well. What denies you?
The legendary pastor of the Methodist church in the very center of Houston, Charles Allen, said, “When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.”
A very famous television personality confessed, “Looking back; my life seems like one long obstacle race, with me as the chief obstacle.” Bob Dylan said, “In life … I feel like I fall short in just about everything. I always feel like somebody’s cracking the whip, somebody or something.” Now, I ask, how many people could tell some version of those two comments about their life? How many are like that?
Maybe now—the road of life seems barricaded—you feel held back, utterly frustrated, or completely disqualified; facts indicate failure! And there are forces that deny hope. Yet, in life, there are no totally hopeless situations; but there are people who have grown hopeless facing them!
David was lost in those thoughts when suddenly three heroic men at his side dashed toward the well, running through the Philistine lines, and drew water from the well, and back they came! And the number three has symbolic significance, and I do not have to say much. “For if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit doing the impossible in our lives! — God for us, and He is!
These three courageous men who did this daring act for David remind me of a statement made by Phillips Brooks, the famous Boston preacher, who said, “It does not take great men to do great things; it only takes consecrated men.” Now, what do we mean by that word “consecrated”? In the most practical sense it means that you hand God a blank sheet of paper for Him to fill out, with your name signed at the bottom. So it means giving yourself to God afresh with no conditions. The word “abandonment” is a great word, and to be what we should be, we must abandon what we are for all He is! God cannot bless us until He has us, and He does not have us until we abandon our plans for our life. Let those words echo, “He cannot bless us until He has us.”
F. B. Meyer loved to talk about “the resources of God” that turn the impossible into possible. And it’s a great picture of grace in action, God doing for us what we cannot do and do not deserve—it’s what provides water from the well. Jesus talked about “living water.” The woman at the well asked Him about providing this “living water” and commented, “But you don’t have a rope or a bucket … Where would you get this living water?” (John 4:11, TLB) Jesus said, I offer water that “becomes a perpetual spring within” and she said, ““give me some of that water!”
The water from the well of Bethlehem was brought to David, and he was so overwhelmed with gratitude that he gave it all to God as he poured it out as an offering. “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it,” said William Ward. In an instant David, without delay gave that gift totally to God.
I challenge you to try to picture this dramatic scene in your mind. David, with amazing gratitude lifts up that pail of Bethlehem water to heaven and pours it out on the ground as an act of consecration. He refused to drink it! Instead, “he poured it out before the Lord.” (verse 16) Real Christianity is the total commitment of all I know of me to all I know of Jesus Christ. Jonathan Edwards once wrote, “I have given myself clean away.” Have I, and have you?
There is another illustration of it from the life of David Livingstone. He boldly declared, “I will place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in relation to the kingdom of God.” And that leads me again to recall those wonderfully simple words of D. L. Moody which I love, “Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can!”
So listen for the word “all.” “When all that you are is available to all that God is, then all that God is, is available to all that you are.” (Major Ian Thomas) Now, the meaning of that, in the most practical sense, is this—all the riches and resources of heaven are waiting to crown those whose will is lost in God’s will. I challenge you, do you have a “bucket of blessings”? — Then pour it out before Him and see what He will do.
To risk our all on God is no risk at all!
And here and now, out of gratitude will you offer to God the full bucket of your life? And be humbled in grace and gratitude in order that, like David, soon your spiritual enemies will be scattered because God will give you victory as He fights the battle for you?
David wanted the impossible, and God used those three men to give it to him, and David then said, “I want God to have it!” No one can open up to God by giving more than God can open up heaven to give to us. David illustrates the way to get more than you can imagine is to give more than you can afford! So look, it wasn’t long before David had the whole town of Bethlehem and he could drink as much as he wanted—he gave God the whole pail of water, and God gave him the whole city!
Let’s say it this way as we end: give God your bucket, and God will give you your “Bethlehem.” And, that’s how life takes on the supernatural dimension of living as God says, “I have found someone that I can bless!”