Bible Insights

Pouring Out a Drink Offering to God

During a time of war, there is a curious story of King David. He mentions that he is thirsty for water from a specific well. Three of his mighty warriors break through enemy lines, draw water from that well, and return to David with it.

However, instead of drinking it with gratitude, David pours it out on the ground as a drink offering to God (1 Chronicles 11:17-19 and also in 2 Samuel 23:13-17).

Apparently, he felt that the risk the men took was so great that he was not worthy to taste the water, offering it to God instead.

This action may have parallels to the Old Testament instruction to give a “drink offering” to God. The drink offering was a libation of wine that was poured over the alter or used with meat offerings as part of the Jewish worship rituals.

Instructions for its use occur over 45 times in the Jewish law, with 19 other references in the Old Testament.

Since Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament worship practices, it is not surprising for there to only be two mentions of drink offerings in the New Testament.

Both were made by Paul, referring to his willingly pouring out his life as a drink-offering to God (Philippians 2:17 and 2 Timothy 4:6).

It is important to understand that while the Old Testament believers presented their drink offerings ritualistically out of obligation and compulsion, Paul—being freed from the law by Jesus—willing and gladly presented his own life as a drink-offering to God. 

It was his intentional act of sacrifice and service.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Chronicles 8-11, and today’s post is on 1 Chronicles 11:17-19 .]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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