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The Mighty Ones

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” John Bunyan

Imagine the darkness, the smell, the undeniable earthly reality of hiding in a cave. It’s not the place you go to unless you have to. It’s where you go when things seem to be falling apart—where things are not how they should be. This is where David, the king of ancient Israel, found himself hiding out from the Philistines, the people with the reputation of being “giants.”

The Bible tells us* that while he was hiding out in the cave, David confided in three of his most loyal friends, saying, “O that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem.”  It’s not water that he wants. Surely, the King of Israel, a master commander, would have water near his hideout. He is not thirsty for water. He wants something more. David needed hope. David needed reassurance. David wondered if the life he once knew would ever be again. Bethlehem is his hometown. It’s the place where he became who he is today. He must have gone to that well, even as a boy when God was so real that even tigers or bears could not scare him. Bethlehem is the place where David began to understand that he was “a man after God’s own heart.” It was a place of hope and love and assurance. The water of Bethlehem was living water, full of promise.

As David sits in the cave, he wonders if he can ever return to that place and to that sense of reality that he knew before the Philistines took possession of the well of Bethlehem. Some feelings and questions are so real it is hard to convey them to others. We sometimes have marking points in our lives—the day before and after we fell in love, received a diagnosis, had an injury, failed, or triumphed. “O that…”. This is an honest longing. O that… What is your longing?

David’s moment of longing was met by the committed love and selflessness of his friends. The Bible calls these three friends “the mighty men,” their story is remarkable.  Those mighty men heard his longing and responded. David never asked them to, but they heard his cry, recognized his need, and decided to do something about it. The three of them set off to face a garrison at the gate to the city of Bethlehem. Officers would see them coming as they entered the Philistine's stronghold and forged uphill to their destination. Miraculously, two of them fended off the Philistines while one of them filled a water skin. Despite the impossible odds, they were successful and brought it back to David.

Imagine this water skin. It must have arrived with blood stains and sweat. As for David, it was a holy moment. He saw God that day through his mighty men. What they gave him was too precious to keep to himself. He poured it out to God with thanksgiving and worship.

However, there is even more to this story. Some believe this was a turning point in the war. Hope can be contagious. As the Israelites heard the great act of devotion and bravery enacted by the mighty men, their hope and confidence grew. Imagine what an entire army could do if only three of their men could break through the enemy's front line and take water.

God often uses people to show his love, to infuse his hope, or to offer his reassurance. Who among us cannot name one who has been there for us? Our mother? Our father? A friend? A co-worker? A stranger coming like an angel in disguise in the sea of your longing. We all need a mighty one!

I suspect you have been a mighty one in ways you may not even know - as a mother, father, or friend. Is there a longing you carry today? Be encouraged. You are not alone. Is there a longing you have heard? Take up the call! Ask God what He would have you do about it. Martin Buber once said, “The greatest thing any person can do for another is to confirm the deepest thing in him, in her - to take the time and have the discernment to see what’s most fully that person and then confirm it by recognizing and encouraging it.” You may be the mighty one needed to share God's love and hope with someone today.


*I Chronicles 11:10-19


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