1 Chronicles 11:19 documents David's respectful response to three mighty men who brought him water from Bethlehem :

[1 Chronicles 11:19] For he said, “God forbid that I should do this! Can I drink the blood of these men who risked their lives?”—for they had brought it at the risk of their lives, and he would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three warriors. ( וַיֹּ֡אמֶר חָלִ֩ילָה֩ לִּ֨י מֵאֱלֹהַ֜י מֵעֲשׂ֣וֹת זֹ֗את הֲדַ֣ם הָאֲנָשִׁים֩ הָאֵ֨לֶּה אֶשְׁתֶּ֤ה בְנַפְשׁוֹתָם֙ כִּ֣י בְנַפְשׁוֹתָ֣ם הֱבִיא֔וּם וְלֹ֥א אָבָ֖ה לִשְׁתּוֹתָ֑ם אֵ֣לֶּה עָשׂ֔וּ שְׁלֹ֖שֶׁת הַגִּבּוֹרִֽים )

Why did King David not drink הֲדַ֣ם הָאֲנָשִׁים "The-Blood of The-Men" in [1 Chronicles 11:19] ?

3 Answers 3


Blood is compared to life in Genesis 9:4

But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

Consuming blood is forbidden in Leviticus 17:14

because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.”

David was a man after God's heart. He equated the water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem to the three might men's blood in 1 Chronicles 11:19

“God forbid that I should do this!” he said. “Should I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?”

Why did King David not drink it?

Because they risked their lives to bring it back, David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors.

But their effort was not wasted. David used the water/blood to honor God:

18b But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out to the Lord.

So David satisfied Deuteronomy 12:16

But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water.

Now everyone was satisfied: David, the 3 mighty men, and God. In this incident, David was really a man after God's own heart.


David understood and believed in the God-given principle of the sanctity of life. God's law stated that "the life is in the blood", which was why God required the blood of killed animals to be poured out on the ground and never drunk. Nor was meat that had not been bled properly to be eaten. Life belongs to God, and the symbol for life being blood, then blood belongs to God.

This injunction long preceded the Mosaic law. It was stated in God's covenant with Noah after he and all in the ark disembarked. Noah sacrificed clean animals and birds on an altar to thank God for his deliverance (Genesis 8:20). God then gave Noah permission to eat animal flesh.

"But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye ot eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; t the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man" (Genesis 9:3-6).

King David knew all of this and realised that he had foolishly expressed a desire that put the lives of those three mighty men at unnecessary risk. There was water in the camp, but he developed a longing for water drawn from the well at Bethlehem. Those three men risked their lives to fight through to the well, to draw that water and return. David realised he needed to repent for his weakness and foolishness. As Matthew Henry puts it:

"He would not gratify a foolish fancy. He that has such a rule as this over his own spirit is better than the mighty... Devotion towards God. That water which he thought too good, too precious for his own drinking, he poured out to the Lord for a drink offering. If we have anything better than another, let God be honoured with it, who is the best and should have the best... It is honourable of great men not to be prodigal of the blood of those they employ, but, in all the commands they give to them, to put their own souls into their souls' stead." (p 441, 3rd column)

Such is the outworking of the principle of the sanctity of God-given life exemplified by King David. To him, it represented the blood of men who could have died in order to bring mere water to him, for his enjoyment (not because he would have died without that particular water). Therefore, he could not drink it, for - to him - it had symbolically become blood. He poured it out as a drink offering to God, on the ground, as the law stipulated.


David committed an error and for his own bodily repose risked not his own life, but lives of his servants. He repented when he saw that and poured down the water obtained in such way. Spiritual things, morality is more important than bodily concerns and even life itself. That David shewed to all. Moreover, as a side result, it was good for the morale of the army.

Also, since David is a prefiguration of the Incarnate Lord, he expressed through Holy Spirit that true King, the Eternal King will not come to make others serve Him, but that He may serve others and lay down His own life for salvation of all (Matthew 20:28).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.