A Priceless Drink Offering

If you ever read Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey, you will soon come across a drink offering. The ground is almost soggy with them! The act of pouring wine and other liquids on the ground in honor of the gods was common in Greek, Roman, and other Middle Eastern cultures. The Bible also mentions the drink offering. But what was understood in those societies seems strange to us, as in the following story:

Then three of the thirty chief men went down and came to David in the harvest time to the cave of Adullam, while the troop of the Philistines was camping in the valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold, while the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. David had a craving and said, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!” So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord; and he said, “Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did. (2 Sam. 23:13-17)

In our culture, pouring a liquid on the ground seems a waste. It’s one thing if it came from the supermarket, but war-water! If I had risked my neck and had fought my way through a camp of Philistines to collect a little well water, I would have been upset with King David. “What do you mean, you’re not going to drink it? Are you kidding me?”

David’s drink offering presents us with a problem when our values do not align with his. So, consider the relative value of three things in the story: the water, the lives of the mighty men, and the drink offering to God.

  • Modern societies often take water for granted. We are known for being wasteful. Even so, tipping a tumbler of it on the ground is generally understood as a needless waste. Ancient Mediterranean people probably valued water more than we do.
  • We place a high price on life. David seemed to recognize the value of life too. He equated the water with the blood that his three warriors had risked spilling. “All the more reason not to throw it away,” responds the average person today—until we get to the third item that needs valuing.
  • The value of a drink offering to God can only be understood in terms of who God is and what an offering represents. If we doubt God’s existence then giving anything to Him would be very silly. If God is distant, uncaring, or impotent then He would not be worthy of much of an offering. But if we know how great, loving, and powerful our heavenly Father is, then we will gladly pour our very lives out for Him. The act of offering something to God is an act of worship.

David understood that the liquid in his hand was more precious than mere water; he valued it in terms of the best blood in his army. There is no record of any objections from the mighty trio when they saw what David did. They understood the honor of having their hard won water poured on the ground as a drink offering to God. What greater honor could there be for them or for God? David’s libation said that the water was a worthy offering for God Most High, and that God was worthy of the priceless water.

Do you consider God worthy of your life?

Please share these short Bible devotionals with others who might be blessed.

8 thoughts on “A Priceless Drink Offering

  1. Owen Vigeon

    Nothing like culture differences to increase our incredulity! I like the other comment of David “I will not offer to God that which costs me nothing”. That hardly needs interpretation and makes a very good text. 2 Sam 24.24

  2. Wesley

    This was very inspirationional to help me focus on what sacrifice I actually offer up to the Lord. I know I can offer my last as a living sacrifice I also can see there are so many other ways.

  3. Wayne

    These soldiers went to the well out of love and alligence for David. David realized the sacrifice was one made of love and he no longer wanted to be selfish in his thinking but realized the significance of the moment. Not to merely drink the water and expel it later as waste but rather to pour the water out as a sacrificial drink offering and an act of worship to God that would ultimately bless David and his men in a time of war. What David did in response to what was done for him was to show love for God and also for men who served him.

  4. gloria

    thank you for help in understanding ……………old testament can be strange to 21st century Christians..

  5. sid brannan

    Thank you for this explanation and application. I coach cross country nad have for ten years. At my first school the Lord led me to adopt and paraphrase Paul’s “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of rightiousness and not to me only but to all who love His appearing.” I paraphrased it to read, ”
    Run the Race. Keep the Faith. Finish the course. Win the prize.” I have used it many times and it has been a great inspiration to our runners.


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