“David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. And David said longingly, ‘Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!’ Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the Lord and said, ‘Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?’ Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did” (2 Samuel 23:14-17).
The road to Bethlehem was a treacherous one for David’s three mighty men who slipped into the city to get some water for David. But they were up to the task. The three included Josheb-basshebeth who had killed eight hundred enemies in one skirmish with his spear. The other two were Eleazar and Shammah, both of whom had stood their ground in battles with the Philistines. These three were the best of the best, the elite special forces of David’s army.
When David says, “Boy, I wish I had some of the water from that well in Bethlehem,” they sprung into action. Before you know it, they’ve returned from the Philistine-occupied city with the water. But David wouldn’t even drink it! How could he sit back and enjoy when they were wiling to risk their lives for him. That’s the kind of stuff these mighty men did.
There were at least thirty other skilled warriors supporting David, armed with spears and clubs. Tales of their exploits include killing a lion in a pit on a snowy day and disarming and killing an Egyptian (2 Samuel 23:20-21).
This image of David’s mightiest men reminds me of Jesus’ comment to a disciple who wants to fight for him when the mob arrives in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). Jesus had his own mighty men, the heavenly host. Yes, the same heavenly host who accompanied him to Bethlehem at his birth and had voiced the first Christmas praises, “Glory to God in the highest!” This was not just a choir, but the special forces of heaven.
Jesus does not summon the angels that night. The mission was not to put up a fight but offer up a sacrifice, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The writer of Hebrews will descibe the angels as “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). In other words, our Lord has sent them out to be with us who, wearing the full armor of God, take our stand against the devil’s schemes. We never fight alone, but are part of the church militant, accompanied by the best there is, the heavenly host.
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of your elite, your angels. Teach me more about their presence and protection as I fight the good fight of faith. Amen.