We are called to selflessness.
The sacrifice of all sacrifices.
Let’s talk about chapter 11:17-19. King David is hiding from his enemies. He’s been fighting the Philistines with his army, and he’s thirsty. And here’s what the scripture says,”17David longed for water. He said, “I wish someone would get me a drink of water from the well that is near the gate of Bethlehem!”
18So the Three fought their way past the Philistine guards. They got some water from the well that was near the gate of Bethlehem. They took the water back to David.
But David refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out as a drink offering to the Lord. 19″I would never drink that water!” David said. “It would be like drinking the blood of these men. They put their lives in danger by going to Bethlehem.” The men had put their lives in danger by bringing the water back. So David wouldn’t drink it.”
Have you ever been really, really thirsty? You’ve been working hard, out in the elements, doing manual labor with the sun beating down on you. You haven’t been able to stay hydrated because you just haven’t had access to water. Eventually, all you can do is think about how thirsty you are. You’re dry. You’re parched. You couldn’t spit if you wanted to.
That’s how King David felt. Scripture says, “David longed for water.” I’ve been there. Here where I live in southern California, summers can be hot. A hundred and fifteen degrees is not at all unusual. And one of my day jobs requires me to work outside, with no shade, over cars and trucks that have been sitting in the sun. It’s not unusual for the surface temperature of those vehicles to hit 165 degrees. I know what it’s like to be thirsty. I’ve had many occasions to say, “Boy do I wish I had some water right now!”
That’s what David did. I don’t think he said it to anyone in particular, he just said, “Man. A drink of water from that sweet, cool well by the gate of Bethlehem would be awesome right now.” And his three most loyal men heard him, so out of respect for their leader, they fought through enemy lines to get it for him!
When they got back, what did David do? He wouldn’t drink it! He respected what it cost these men so much that he poured it on the ground as a drink offering to the Lord. It was an act of worship to God. These men sacrificed their own safety for the leader they loved, and David sacrificed the thing that he most wanted in the world at that time to the God that he loved.
This is what a sacrifice is. Putting a buck in the offering plate is not a sacrifice for most of us. Have you ever made an offering to the Lord like David did, or his men? Think back to that time when you were really really thirsty. How much of a sacrifice would it be to pour water on the ground, knowing that there was no other water easily available? That’s huge. What David did was an enormous sacrifice of worship to God.
When was the last time you gave an offering to God that cost you like that?
So many great things happened in this chapter. The main event is that Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to prove their god was real. What faith Elijah had!
This is not the sort of thing that I would encourage anyone to do, but the people of Israel were at a critical juncture. They had so turned from God that something dramatic needed to be done.
The not-really-a-contest was set up, and all morning long the 450 prophets of Baal cried out to (let’s face it) NOTHING, to send down fire to consume the offering.
And then at noon, Elijah begins making fun of them. Now, most translations are very restrained in the way they render verse 27. The WEB translation that we read today has it this way: “Cry aloud; for he is a god. Either he is deep in thought, or he has gone somewhere, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he sleeps and must be awakened.”
But that isn’t entirely accurate. Listen to the ESV: “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”
Relieving himself. Guess what. What he really said there is this: “Maybe he’s taking a dump.”
So Elijah had some fun with them. Maybe not politically correct in his day, but he didn’t care.
And then when it was time for God to show Himself to be the God of Israel and all creation, Elijah had the sacrifice and the wood and the altar drenched three times. The water ran off the altar and filled the trench that Elijah had dug around the altar. And after Elijah prayed, God not only sent fire to consume the offering, but the wood and the stones and the dust and all the water in the trench.
I love it when God answers prayer in abundance, don’t you? So many times we think small when we pray. We forget that nothing is too great for God. We forget that He has no limits.
Next time you have a need, remember what He did the day He proved himself to the prophets of Baal and the entire nation of Israel.
What do you think?