Perhaps it is not strange that the thoughts and feelings of a man in exile should turn towards home, and family, and days of his early life when he was happy and safe. I was going to say loved, but that would not be true; since I left home and embarked on this journey of wonder and terror, here in the midst of blind, hateful persecution, I have found such love that my tears cannot stop falling. The affection a young boy feels in the home of his family, with older brothers who always feel the need to keep him in his place, is a meagre thing compared to this! Jashobeam, Eleazar and Shammah – may their names be remembered with glory, for in the hour of my darkness and misery, they showed me such love as reflected back to me the very heart of my God. And if man can love, so sacrificially someone as inconstant and unworthy as I am, what does that tell me about my Lord?
But I am getting ahead of myself, and interrupting my own story. It happened when we were hiding out in the cave of Adullam and the Philistines had possession of Bethlehem. Such is our human perversity, that no sooner is something, however trivial, denied to us, than we suddenly conceive an enormous need for it. It had been a hard, bitter pointless sort of day, when a man feels discouraged by his own uselessness, and the heart and the tongue grow careless. I knew that God had brought me to this point for His own good purposes, I knew that His promises are sure, certain and absolute, but it had become an abstract kind of knowledge, disconnected from my heart. I hungered and thirsted for the touch of God’s presence, the feel of His reassurance in my parched emptiness. And, holed up in that desert cave, I thought of the well at Bethlehem, where the water was always cool and clean, tasting faintly of the growing earth. Somehow the two things became linked and merged in my mind, and speaking from nostalgia and frustration, I voiced my longing to drink from that well once again. Such was my self-pity, that I didn’t even notice that my three mighty men had slipped away until they eventually returned.
Men talk of being humbled by criticism, or by realising their mistakes, and these examples are true; but there is something more than that which humbles a man down to the very marrow of his bones, and prostrates the deepest places of his soul, and that is to be the recipient of crazy, undeserved love. Who am I that someone should risk their very life to gratify my superficial whims? For when my men returned, they brought with them water from the well of Bethlehem. They had broken through the Philistine lines, fought their way through, just so I could have a drink of water from home! It was too much!
I could not drink it. It would be like drinking their blood. Only a tyrant would demand that men risk their lives for something so small and personal, and may God himself forbid that I ever become such a man. There is only one who is worthy of such devotion, and I am not that one. So, totally undone by such a demonstration of love, I poured out their gift to the Lord in wonder and thanksgiving and with many tears. And my prayer is that all my days I may show the Lord such devotion as my mighty men showed me. For he alone is worthy.