Opening Prayer

I still my heart, Lord, and ask now that you would make me aware of your presence. You are always with me, but there are many times in the day when I feel far away from you. I turn to you now.

Read 2 SAMUEL 23:8-23

David’s Mighty Warriors

These are the names of David’s mighty warriors:

Josheb-Basshebeth,[a] a Tahkemonite,[b] was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed[c] in one encounter.

Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim[d] for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.

13 During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 15 David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” 16 So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord. 17 “Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it.

Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors.

18 Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three.[e] He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three. 19 Was he not held in greater honor than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them.

20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. 21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. 23 He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.

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  1. 2 Samuel 23:8 Hebrew; some Septuagint manuscripts suggest Ish-Bosheth, that is, Esh-Baal (see also 1 Chron. 11:11 Jashobeam).
  2. 2 Samuel 23:8 Probably a variant of Hakmonite (see 1 Chron. 11:11)
  3. 2 Samuel 23:8 Some Septuagint manuscripts (see also 1 Chron. 11:11); Hebrew and other Septuagint manuscripts Three; it was Adino the Eznite who killed eight hundred men
  4. 2 Samuel 23:9 See 1 Chron. 11:13; Hebrew gathered there.
  5. 2 Samuel 23:18 Most Hebrew manuscripts (see also 1 Chron. 11:20); two Hebrew manuscripts and Syriac Thirty

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‘For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.’1

Think Further

Be honest! How often, when you are faced with lists of names within Scripture, do you skip past without reading them and only pause when you reach another specific story? However, these lists and names are significant. This chapter reminds us that no leader stands alone; each depends on the advice and support of many others. Our reading ends at verse 23, but the whole chapter is worth skimming through! We see here warriors, just as brave and wise, just as much used by God, as David was. We can’t be sure whether the ‘Three’ and the ‘Thirty’ were general terms, or limited groups, only adding new members when one died. We do know that these were significant people, known to God and deserving recognition by God’s people. They came from different tribes, clans, and areas. Some, like Uriah the Hittite, came from immigrant families. Some have been previously acknowledged but many are new to us, a reminder that not all God’s actions within Israel are recorded. It is notable that Joab is not on the list, only mentioned in the identification of his brothers, and that the list finishes in verse 39 with Uriah, probably to draw attention to David’s failures. (In the parallel list in 1 Chronicles 11, Uriah’s name comes much higher up.)

Amid these lists is the story of David’s thirst and the way in which his loyal followers risked their lives to fetch him a drink from his well-remembered special well! David’s act of pouring out the water instead of drinking it might be seen as wasteful or disrespectful, but in fact it was honoring. Their gift was so special that it was worthy of being offered to God as a drink offering, which usually would have been the finest wine.


We must not ignore the ‘Threes’ and the ‘Thirties’ who serve within our communities but instead recognize how many people God uses to bring about ‘great victories.’

Closing prayer

Gracious God, thank you for your gift, the body of Christ. Thank you for the integral parts we play in each other’s lives, to inspire and to encourage our walk with you and our service to the world around us.

Last Updated on October 5, 2023 by kingstar

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