So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well, and brought it back to David.
But David refused to drink it. Instead he poured it out before the LORD.
1 Chronicles 11:18 NLT
In a Christmas episode of one of my favorite sitcoms, one of the characters receives his gift in pieces and must assemble it like a 3D puzzle to discover what the gift is. He immediately assumed it was a weapon and assembled it as such. He was disappointed when he found out he was wrong, but, by the end of the episode the purpose of the gift was revealed and he was ecstatic! The true use for the assembled pieces brought him much more joy than even his expectations could prepare him for.
It got me to thinking about my identity and life purpose. Most times I feel it’s in pieces. I focus a lot of time and energy into trying to “assemble” these pieces but get distracted by MY hopes and MY expectations. The end result of those distractions is that I assemble the pieces in a way that doesn’t make sense. The reality is that I didn’t create myself; a power greater than me knit me together and allowed me to be born in a time and place of intention. So if I really want a shot at assembling this purpose right, I would need to do it with God’s agenda in mind. What am I built for?
In 1 Chronicles, chapters 10-29 go into great detail about the history of the reign of David. Chapter 11 speaks about how God led many great warriors to support the rise of King David. Out of the many, there were 30 that were his greatest and most trusted; they are referred to as the Thirty. Then, even greater than the Thirty, were the Three: Jashobeam (the Hacmonite), Eleazar (son of Dodai), and Shammah (son of Agee). These three men were the most elite of all of David’s Mightiest Men. This particular account of the Three caught my eye:
David was staying in the stronghold at the time, and a Philistine detachment had occupied the town of Bethlehem. David remarked longingly to his men, “Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well in Bethlehem, the one by the gate.” So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well, and brought it back to David. But David refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out before 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. This is an example of the exploits of the Three. (1 Chronicles 11:16-19 NLT)
The Three were experts at what they did. They are forever documented as the most elite in a group of excellence. There was probably little question as to what their purpose was – they were called to support and protect the LORD’s appointed king. When these men presented the water to David, his eyes were open to something so much bigger than himself. My study notes articulate it as follows:
“David recognized that their devotion to him was inspired by their devotion to God, so he poured out the water as a drink offering, demonstrating that only God is worth such devotion.” (Life Application Study Bible p.634)
All my actions, from the mightiest down to the meekest, are built to serve those among me. But David draws attention to the most important detail when he pours the water out before the LORD :
The question isn’t “What am I built for?” It’s who.
The Three were not great because of what they did, they were great because of who they served. And David was wise enough to recognize it wasn’t him. It was Him.
Dear Lord, thank you for making me and placing in me a desire for purpose. Let me always remember that it is you who I was built for. Give me an unquenchable desire to pour out acts of generosity and service in your honor. Teach me to find the assembly of my purpose in you. Amen.