A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – The Best Way to Honor the Dead


Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900). You can find other devotions, sermons, essays, articles, and announcements on The Cove Community blog. If you find this devotion meaningful, please consider supporting this ministry by sending an offering to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

2 Samuel 23:13-17b

Towards the beginning of harvest three of the thirty chiefs went down to join David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold; and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. David said longingly, "O that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!" Then the three warriors broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it; he poured it out to the LORD, "The LORD forbid that I should do this. Can I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?" Therefore he would not drink it.

The Best Way to Honor the Dead

church-service-fort-hood-shooting-victimIn my 58 years of life, I’ve seen the United States become involved in several military adventures, and I think you could make the case that at least a couple became quagmires, you know, situations where winning seems doubtful, if not impossible. And the only thing that seems clear is that the conflict has become a drain on our resources, including our most precious resource of all, the lives of our service men and women.  As a matter of fact, some might say that our recent involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan fits this definition. And yet, when anyone suggests that it might be time to refocus our attention and move on, someone will undoubtedly say that, if we withdraw, that’s showing disrespect to those who’ve died. We’d be saying their deaths had no meaning, that they died in vain. Therefore, we need to stay even if that means more young men and women will die while the situation becomes more and more muddled.

But this passage from 2 Samuel might cause us to question this assumption. I mean, using this logic, David should have drunk the water that those three warriors brought to him. By drinking, David would have given the risk they took meaning, and if one had died, his death wouldn’t have been in vain. And yet, that wasn’t the perspective of God. Rather he forbid that David drink the water from Bethlehem’s well, because the lives of those men were worth far more than a cup of water. And as we apply this to our situation, maybe the lives of our men and women are worth more right now than justifying an action taken in the past or some sense of frustration in the present. In other words, maybe the best way to honor the dead is to do what we can to reduce their number in the future.