From 2 Samuel 19-21
Sometimes natural disasters and various calamities are signs of the LORD’s disfavour (Lev 26.20; Dt 28.18). In today’s passage the LORD sends a famine. It appears he has unfinished business with some of Saul’s sins and David must deal with them.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
21 Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the LORD. And the LORD said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” 2 So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the people of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites. Although the people of Israel had sworn to spare them, Saul had sought to strike them down in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah. (2 Sa 21:1–2)
Perhaps a famine for a single year would not be cause for concern. But for three years, David knew something was up. He inquired of the LORD.
The LORD tells him Saul put some Gibeonites to death and there was guilt on him and his house. This particular sin is not recorded in scripture. But we can assume it happened. Saul’s ‘zeal’ was for Israel and Judah, but it was against the LORD’s will and it also broke the covenant Israel had with the Gibeonites. You may remember deceived Joshua into making a covenant with them. Israel was honour bound to protect them (Josh 9.15-18).
Our sins affect us and those around us as well.
Saul’s sin affected his whole family. In response David approaches the Gibeonites to ask them what may make it right and end the famine.
3 And David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And how shall I make atonement, that you may bless the heritage of the LORD?” 4 The Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “What do you say that I shall do for you?” 5 They said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel, 6 let seven of his sons be given to us, so that we may hang them before the LORD at Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD.” And the king said, “I will give them.” (2 Sa 21:3-6)
The Gibeonites don’t want silver or gold. Yes you read it correctly. The wrong Saul has done will be made up for if seven of his sons are given up to the Gibeonites and killed. David agrees. Seven men to atone for Saul’s sin and end the famine sent by the LORD.
Sin is not atoned for by money, but by blood spilling and death.
7 But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul’s son Jonathan, because of the oath of the LORD that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. (2 Sa 21:7)
With one exception. David made a promise to his friend Jonathan to spare Mephibosheth. Relations between David and Mephibosheth had declined since Absalom’s rebellion. Perhaps it is just as well for Mephibosheth’s sake.
8 The king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; 9 and he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the mountain before the LORD, and the seven of them perished together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest. (2 Sa 21:8-9)
The men were hanged and they perished together. They died when the barley was mature and it was time to bring it in. This is of course related to the famine over the land.
10 Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until rain fell upon them from the heavens. And she did not allow the birds of the air to come upon them by day, or the beasts of the field by night. (2 Sa 21:10)
Im sure many grieved over their loss, especially their family. Rizpah, the mother of Armoni and Mephibosheth mourned, took cover under her sackcloth and protected the bodies from the birds.
Their mother attended to them after they died.
She did so for around six months until the LORD broke the famine and it started to rain.
11 When David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, 12 David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan from the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the public square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them, on the day the Philistines killed Saul on Gilboa. 13 And he brought up from there the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan; and they gathered the bones of those who were hanged. 14 And they buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the land of Benjamin in Zela, in the tomb of Kish his father. And they did all that the king commanded. And after that God responded to the plea for the land. (2 Sa 21:11–14)
When David hears of what Rizpah has done, he takes the bones of Saul, Jonathan and the men who were hanged and gives them a proper burial in the land of the Benjaminites.
After the bitter event, the LORD responds to people’s prayers for the land and the famine to end.
Story of Israel
It was good for Israel, that David was aware of the implications of a three year long famine. Had he not done so it would have continued and perhaps turned into something worse. We won’t much more about the Gibeonites in scripture.
When David was gone and Israel sinned against the LORD, it did get much worse. The LORD raised up other nations against them and sent them into exile. Many mothers grieved over the loss of their sons and daughters.
Story of Jesus
Sometimes it left to the mothers of sons to look after them when they die. Rizpah wasn’t the only one who saw her dead son hanging in the air. When Jesus hung on the cross, Mary his mother was watching.
So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,
“They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (Jn 19:16–27)
Sin must be atoned for. Jesus died for our sins. He made atonement for us.
Give thanks for his wonderful and costly gift.
When he died his mother watched. Even while he was dying on the cross, Jesus showed immense compassion for his mother. He wanted her looked after. Now he has risen from the dead, He looks after us as well.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.