Get off your ass and ask: Othniel and Acsah

The Bible

And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him in marriage.

One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”

She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs. Joshua 15:16-19

I ask you.
No selfies in Acsah’s day, but this might be a good snap.

I have a special fondness for young couples starting out together; so this little bit of history in the book of Joshua is kind of irresistible to me. Othniel went on to be the first judge of the judges of Israel. But at this point, he and Acsah (name your daughter that!) are just setting up their own household. They seem to have been a visionary, ambitious pair. That is what I think, at least, when I envision Acsah and Othniel going back to Caleb’s house to get a better deal on her inheritance. All she had was desert and no water — but she had irrigation plans! It appears that she was pushing Othniel, “Go ask my dad for more!” But as soon as they got there, she jumped off her donkey and asked herself! Caleb undoubtedly knew he had a special daughter; he may have seen “that look” in her eye as soon as she rode up and immediately asked, “What?”

She got her water.

The Prayer

You may think it is too much to make a lot out of these little snippets of the Bible. That’s OK. But see if this moment doesn’t make a good prayer for you, anyway. Here is how it works.

We go to our Father and he sees us just as we are. He says, “What can I do for you?”

We say, “Do me a favor, since you know I’ve been given desert. I need springs of water. Give me also springs of water.”

He gives them.

It is something like that. Try praying it. Should I say, “Get off your ass and ask?” Probably not.

But we need to ask because we have some desert! Should we just take what we appear to have been given and make the most of the desert?

  • I’m talking about the spiritual desert — not feeling it personally, no faith, hope, joy, love, just a gnawing sense of need.
  • I’m talking about the relational desert – the friendship circle or marriage feels dry, makes me want to try a new city or a new mate.
  • I’m talking about the political desert – Philly has lots of water but it has lots of trouble: too much violence, too little money in its coffers, too much injustice and corruption.

Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:37-8

The vision

Being one woman, going to her father for what she needs and ending up with living water flowing from her in the middle of desert places – that seems to me like the best result of all. Taking her husband with her and irrigating as much territory as she can touch seems to be a life worth living. Acsah couldn’t help but ask. Do you do that anymore?

Maybe you think coming to Jesus and asking for living water is entirely too easy. Snippety. You are into much more complicated things. That’s OK. I have nothing for you. I think I get tinier all the time — just a child going to my Father in the place I know to find him and trusting him to give me what he has for me.

6 thoughts on “Get off your ass and ask: Othniel and Acsah

  1. I have been realizing lately that I don’t ask things of God. I tell Him how I feel all the time, but I don’t know how much I’ve really come to expect from Him. I feel somewhat insignificant almost, like I would have to be brazen to ask and expect.

    Also, I feel more like a spring than a dessert; waiting for someone to ask so I can help them make things grow.

  2. I agree! In my ‘tininess’ I am finding a seemingly limitless supply of nourishment when I ask, seek, and knock. Acsah could get a bad rap for being brash or entitled but today I see that she is simply taking her life and her God seriously. She’s planning for long-term sustenance that extends beyond her own personal needs. As my desert areas are being watered, I am encouraged to ask for irrigation beyond. Thanks, Rod.

  3. I have nothing profound to say, but I really liked this blog. I really like how assertive Acsah is about her needs in this story.

  4. The last line is beautiful – “I think I get tinier all the time – just a child going to my Father in the place I know how to find him and trusting him to give me what he has for me.” I don’t think many of us want to become “tinier” and that is what often complicates things…thank you for this post. I feel as though I’ve been realigned and that is exciting. I look forward to the living water quenching my dry and thirsting heart – it has been to long.

  5. Thanks Rod. This really hit home for me. I too often find myself trying to choke down the sand before I will ever ask for the “streams of living water.” Today I am trying to tap into the springs to irrigate my dry desert rather than sit in the sand and sulk.

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