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Why did David pour out the water to the Lord in II Samuel 23:15-17?

I was teaching about the properties of drinking water to a kid ( 8 Yrs). His teacher had given the answer "Drinking water is colourless, odourless and tasteless. It should be potable and safe."

I said that pure water is tasteless; drinking water can be tasty and drinking water from different sources tastes differently.
To highlight this, I told the events discussed in Samuel 23: 15-17. (Drinking water was tasty, the king longed for the water of his place).

When I said that David did not drink it, but rather poured it to the Lord, the child asked, "Is it not waste of their efforts? Would not God have been pleased if he had asked them to drink?"

Exactly what is meant by "poured it to Lord"? I assumed that he poured it on the ground. I seek further clarification about the nature of this act.

2 Samuel 23:15 - 17

ESV - 15 And David said longingly, "Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate! 16 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

Clarify Share Report Asked July 29 2017 Mini venkatesan Iyer

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
The Israelite army that David commanded as king was attempting to capture the city of Bethlehem, where David had been born and raised, but which had been taken over and surrounded by the Philistines.

David made a comment expressing the wish that the soldiers who were besieging Bethlehem would bring him water to drink from the well there (from which David himself apparently used to drink).

(I personally don't think that this was because of any special quality of the water itself (such as its taste), but because of its association with David's personal memories of his time growing up in Bethlehem. Also, in my opinion (and I think as shown by David's action in later pouring the water out), David was speaking these words in a wistful or rhetorical manner, rather than intending them as a command, or as indicating that he wanted to literally drink water from the well. His main desire was that all of Bethlehem (including its well) should once again be under Israel's control.)

However, David's three "mighty men" (Joseb-basshebeth, Eleazar, and Shammah) took the king's words as an order, and, despite the dangers involved, fought their way through the Philistines, obtained water from the well at Bethlehem, and brought it back to David.

When David knew what they had done and why they had done it, he realized that, if he were to drink the water, it would appear that he placed greater value on it than on the men who had risked their lives to obtain it (even though they had done so willingly).

He therefore refused to drink it, but "poured it out to the Lord". (Whether he would have done this in a formal sense (as in the Tabernacle), or by simply emptying the container of water on the ground and dedicating it to God with his words, is not clear from the Biblical account.) However, it was appropriate that God be involved in the process, since it would have been through His protection that the three men had been able to get the water and bring it back.

July 29 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Ephraim Muppidi
The above answers provided were excellent. I just would like to add one more point to the above.

David was showing a kind of respect and honor to the 3 men who brought the water risking their life. So, as they brought it he could not stop himself of thanking the Lord for the courage of those men and the respect towards David. In a symbolic way of offering the drink offering in the tabernacle/temple, he poured the water on the ground and worshiped the lord. 

In a similar way, the Apostle Paul also mentions that his life was poured out like a drink offering to God. 

Water once poured on the ground cannot be taken back, it is absorbed by the ground alone, and not a drop can be taken back. In a similar way, God expects us to be used fully for Him and Him alone, without keeping anything for us; and with this He will be glorified, and we are rewarded suitably in His kingdom, which is going to come. 

May God bless you.

April 21 2022 1 response Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
When David looked into the cup, he didn’t see water; he saw the blood of the 3 men who had risked their lives to satisfy his desire. To drink that water would demean all his men and cheapen the brave deed of the 3 heroes. It would communicate that their lives really weren’t important to him. Instead, David turned the cave into a temple and poured the water out as a drink offering to the Lord, as he had seen the priests do at the tabernacle. The drink offering accompanied the giving of another sacrifice, such as the burnt offering, and was not offered independently. It was an act of dedication that symbolized a person’s life poured out in the service of the Lord. The 3 men had given themselves as a sacrifice to the Lord to serve David (Rom. 12:1), so David added his offering to theirs to show them he was one with them in their devotion to Jehovah. To paraphrase his own words in 2 Sam 24:24, David would not treat as nothing that which had cost those 3 men everything. All leaders need to follow David’s example and let their followers know how much they appreciate them and the sacrifices they make. 

Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice for us, and also as a drink offering (Ps. 22:14; Isa. 53:12 --

Psalm 22:14 I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
Isaiah 53:12
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.). —Wiersbe

August 30 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Shirley H Wife, mother, veteran in the spiritual war we all face!
The book of Lamentations in the Old Testament tells us.

Lamentations 2:19, "Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street." This is prayer, coming from the inner heart, honesty before God. Confessing your thoughts and feelings.

Leviticus 23:13, "Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made only fire to the Lord, for a sweet aroma and its drink offering shall be of wine, one forth of a hin." Wine at this time was the third largest agricultural product of the land.

Again in vs. 18 of this same chapter in Leviticus,..." and their drink offerings..."last vs. 37,... "a sacrifice and drink offerings..."

Leviticus tells of gifts to the Lord.

I agree that David, was worshipping God and thanking Him for his protection and blessings. This water was precious, so precious it was a sacrifice! 
Also David's last words are In this chapter of Samuel. David was in an act of worship and prayer and thanksgiving.

July 15 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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