S: 1 Chronicles 11:17-19 David remarked longingly to his men, “Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem.” So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But David refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out as an offering to the Lord. “God forbid that I should drink this!” he exclaimed. “This water is as precious as the blood of these men who risked their lives to bring it to me.” So David did not drink it. These are examples of the exploits of the Three.
O: The Three mentioned in this passage are a special group of mighty warriors loyal to David — Ishbaal ha Hacmoni (a.k.a. Yosheb Basshebeth or Yashobeam), Eleazar ben Dodai, and Shammah ben Agee ha Harari.
When I first read this passage, my reaction was, "My goodness, if I were one of the Three, I would be so upset that I risked my life to get you this water and you poured it out on the ground?"
But this incident illustrates something which is obvious in many places in many contexts in the Bible — cultures are different, and the same thing can mean different things in different cultures. To the Three, this act showed great honour — because when David poured out the water as a libation unto God, it was offering it to God and not wasting it as I would have taken it in my own cultural context. So the Three would have been honoured by David's sacrifice.
The principles in the Bible are eternal, but the application has to be in the context of the current culture. So there are many specific actions which are condoned in scripture which might not be appropriate in our own cultural context.
A: Evangelical Christians often look down on "liberals" for "not taking the Bible literally". But what does "taking the Bible literally" mean? Certainly, we need to take God's Word seriously. But we need to think and evaluate when applying Biblical principles to our current context. It may or may not be applied in exactly the same way as what the people in the Bible did — because their context was different. For example, we cannot apply Leviticus 25:44 literally today to say that it would be right to enslave people from a neighbouring country.
P: Father, give us wisdom in applying Your eternal principles to our lives. And when it is clear that something is wrong, give me the strength not to give in to temptation. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)