Bani looked up at the stars and thought about the conversation around the campfire. It was right here, this very same hill, that David had charged toward the Philistine giant. David had told them of his years as a shepherd boy and how he explored these caves and knew every stream and cranny of this valley.
Bani remembered the look on David’s face when he told them of Bethlehem – of the shops and streets and the well at the gate that had the sweetest water in the world. Bani understood. It had been years since he had been home too. He wondered how hard it would be to get just a goatskin bag of water for David. He sighed with the knowledge that a Philistine garrison was occupying the city now.
The dark sky sparkled with a millions gems. The cooing of the night bird drifted in the still air. Dry leaves rustled occasionally as someone turned in a restless sleep. Although exhausted, none of the men could rest completely – not here with the enemy so close.
“Bani, are you still awake? I was thinking. How would you like to go on an adventure with me tonight? I was thinking we could get some of that sweet water for David. We could do it.”
He turned his head toward Gareb and whispered back. “That’s funny! I was just thinking the same thing. Let’s get Elhanan. He’s from Bethlehem and knows exactly where the well is located.”
In the stillness of the night, three mighty men ventured through the darkness on a quest – for just a drink of water. They knew the risks. They knew the dangers. If they were caught, there would be no mercy from the enemy, but they had counted the cost and found it worthy - not for valor, but adoration and honor for their leader. They’d give anything for David, even their lives.
David was more than their commander or king. He was their friend and an example of faithfulness to Jehovah. His whole life demonstrated humility and boldness at the same time. He faced Goliath, but spared King Saul’s life. Here was one way to show their love and respect for him.
After distracting the guards, they all crept through the small sheep gate into the sleeping city. “Shhhhh,” warned Bani, as Gareb bumped into some clay pots. They froze – listening to see if their presence was detected. Elthanan crawled on his belly toward a structure in the courtyard. Bani and Gareb held their breath as he lowered the rope and drew a jar of water from the well. Droplets splattered and echoed in its depths. He slowly poured some into his goatskin sack, tied the top, and scurried back.
Bani peeked out of the little gate. “The guard’s back. What are we going to do? Is there another gate?”
Elthanan shook his head. “No, this is the only way out of the city at night, and I don’t plan to wait for morning. Let’s rush out and scatter. He can’t get all of us.”
Gareb clasped his knife. “Circle around to the west, and we’ll all try to meet near the big rock at the brook. Got that?” The others nodded. “And we don’t go back without the others, right?”
They gripped each others’ wrists in a pledge before charging out the tiny gate and crashing into the dark bushes.
Bani heard the Philistine guards yelling for re-enforcements and their boots clomping close behind. He leaped over the brook and huddled beside a boulder while the guards ran past.
There was a snap of a twig. He held his breath. “Gareb! Is Elthanan with you?”
“No, but I saw him near the terebinth tree.”
At dawn, as Bani, Gareb, and wounded Elthanan limped back into camp, they were greeted by a commotion. They hadn’t thought through the effects of leaving camp without orders. They hung their heads at the sight of David’s face.
Elthanan held out the goatskin. “It is from Bethlehem.” Bani and Gareb raised their eyes, hoping for mercy.
David took the bag. With eyes squeezed tightly, he lifted it high. “Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives?”
David poured out the water, his tears mingling with the splashes on the rocks – a sweet offering to the Lord.
(II Samuel 23: 14-17)
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