“I don’t like being alone.”
That’s all he said.
Instantly I knew what he was talking about.
To be left, to be forgotten, to be alone was the worst experience of his life.
In his young mind, years before, he couldn’t know the why or the what, but he would always know the when, the where.
In his young mind, he didn’t know the love that still existed for him there or the love that was being formed from far away. All he knew was he hated being alone.
This being by yourself can be good for a time, but when it’s unwanted or unwarranted, it can be the most terrifying experience in a life. It makes you think about things, and when there are no answers that make sense, being alone is devastating.
So we see David, alone in a cave. His enemy is occupying Bethlehem. He is safe and protected, but alone. I don’t know what his thoughts gravitated to, but I’m wondering if he began to consider his childhood, his days as a shepherd, his anointing as king of Israel and now this, alone in a cave. So many memories and questions must have flooded his mind, perhaps the most obvious being, “How did I end up here? What did I do?”
But this is the part of the story I love to consider. Three of thirty come to him. Loyal friends, mighty warriors: they had David’s back. We don’t know how this all went down, except they heard him lament over his thirst. If he could just have a drink from the well of his boyhood home – a memory of his life…
Just a drink.
My mind flashes thousands of years forward. If he could just go home… If he could just be with familiar faces… If he could just go back for one more day…
So David’s mighty three take off. I like to think they wasted no time in assuring David that all would be well as they steadily, purposefully, walked to the cave’s entrance, nearly running as they approached the warm air just outside, now fully running with intense purpose all the way to the well for, “just a drink.” The passage from 2 Samuel 23 says, “Such were the exploits of the three mighty men.” I have to pause and think about this one, smiling over the image forming in my head, imagining these three, not even speaking what they would do, just a knowing look in their eyes. They had done these things before and would do it again.
Risk, sacrifice, love for another; for those willing, the reward is great. The moment doesn’t pass David unnoticed or unseen. The men snuck into enemy territory, grabbed the water and now stood in the presence of their king. Again, I’m imagining their heaving chests, red faces, and their own thirst over the magnificent feat now behind them. And David in awe of the lengths these men were willing to go for him, realizes he is standing in the presence of holiness.
God is there.
And so he pours out the precious liquid he longed for, right there on the ground. The four of them standing together, watching every last drop hit the cave floor, truly quenching its thirst, a sacrifice to the LORD. One sacrifice returned with another, recognizing the One True King.
Just try to imagine the scene, the dark, wet ground, the speechless men, ‘cept for the catching of breath at the effort and the glory.
Now, thousands of years later, there was another catching of breath. But now the loneliness in this young heart, became a question, “What if?” And the question became a wondering, “Maybe?” And the wondering became a promise, “I’ll come back.” And the promise became a life, “We’ve got this.”
And even though there is a longing for places and people and sights and smells and skin, the loneliness is fading. You see, he has mighty men, too. They were willing to sacrifice, to risk, to love, to go and get, to return with a great gift. Make no mistake, the cost was great, is still great, but worth every moment, every tear, every smile. It is only possible because his mighty men have mighty men of their own. And One even mightier.
He’s learning he isn’t alone.
He’s learning that we have his back.
He’s learning that Jesus is with him, forever.
And someday, he will be someone’s mighty man. Another great story of sacrifice, risk and love for another who is alone, who needs to know his pain is seen, and is worth what it takes to it bring back.