Monday, January 27, 2014

Did King David understand economics?

I have always found the following Old Testament story rather obscure and confusing
17 And David said longingly, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” 18 Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and took it and brought it to David. But David would not drink it. He poured it out to the Lord 19 and said, “Far be it from me before my God that I should do this. Shall I drink the lifeblood of these men? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it. These things did the three mighty men.
1 Chronicles 11

Why didn't David just drink the water? Wasn't it an insult to the valiant men to "waste" it?

My son and I have just started reading The Economics of Honor: Biblical Reflections on Money and Property by Roelf Haan.

I found it quite intriguing that Haan begins his book discussing the above story. He make the point that David truly understood the true cost of the water. He felt he had to show God and those around him that he understood that and challenge their thinking,

From a Biblical perspective, economics should not be based on what is cheapest or most efficient for a individual. It is not all about the "rational" decisions of individual consumers who are maximising their "utility functions". Goods and services need to be "priced" and appreciated according to their true cost and value.

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