2 Samuel 21:1-14
The Ultimate Promise Keeper
Speak Lord, We Are Listening
Song, Rich Mullins “That Where I Am” pray
Two foundation stones to stand on when studying the word of God. God is sovereign, God is good. If at any time while you are wrestling with a scripture, you start to subtract from God's goodness or sovereignty, you are headed in the wrong direction.
A little background is necessary before we dive in.
God's command was simple, no treaties, no mercy.
Deuteronomy 7:1-2 When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.
In Joshua 9 we read about the Gibeonites, who believe God can do what He says, and so they deceive Joshua into believing that they are from far, far away and want to make a treaty with him to 'not be harmed.' Later Joshua finds they have been decieved and the people encourage him to wipe them out, but Joshua and the leaders decide to keep the oath that they made.
But he honors those who fear the LORD; he who swears to his own hurt and does not change. (Psalm 15:4)
So the background is there is a 400 year old oath specifically with this people. Saul breaks that oath 30-40 years before what we are about to read.
7 But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the oath of theLord which was between them, between David and Saul’s son Jonathan. 8 So the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, Armoni and Mephibosheth whom she had borne to Saul, and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she had borne to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.9Then he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the mountain before the Lord, so that the seven of them fell together; and they were put to death in the first days of harvest at the beginning of barley harvest.
10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until it rained on them from the sky; and she allowed neither the birds of the sky to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night. 11 When it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, 12 then David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the open square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them on the day the Philistines struck down Saul in Gilboa. 13 He brought up the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from there, and they gathered the bones of those who had been hanged.14 They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zela, in the grave of Kish his father; thus they did all that the king commanded, and after that God was moved by prayer for the land.
Our nation is less than 250 years old, the treaty that was broken here was over 400 years old. Time is not important when God makes a promise.
Can you think of any promises we as a nation have broken?
Treaty was broken by 'zealous' Saul; 30-40 years later, punishment came to the nation.
Verse 1- Problem-famine, David “sought the presence of the Lord.” Even more than the answer He sought the presence. He gets the answer: it is because of something that Saul did.
Verse 2- Here we have a wide open door for self-pity, but David is old, he has more wisdom and so he did not respond in self-pity, he had the fear of the Lord, once again, this is the best definition of the fear of the Lord- the "willingness to justify God in all that He allows into your life."
It should be noted, that Saul's zeal was not for the Lord but for the people, and that is a slippery slope. The actual incident is not mentioned in the Bible, but we can infer Saul tried to get back his throne from God by doing what he thought was right, what he thought was zealous for God, by getting rid of the foreigners—including the Gibeonites—that were among them. The problem was that God had not told Saul to do this, God had told Joshua to do that. Joshua and that generation did not do their entire job, and so they were stuck. The time had past.
What Saul did was commit another presumptuous sin. He went after a people that God did not want exterminated anymore. There was a covenant with those people that not only Joshua and the people honored, but also God Himself honored as well. Saul committed a great crime against Gibeon, and the Gibeonites. Probably after Samuel told him that the kingdom was being taken from him and given to another, because of the disobeying God's direction to wipe out the Amelekites. He thought, “Maybe I can work my way back into God's good graces by wiping out this people, that are living right next to my tribe.”
In any case David calls for the Gibeonites, he goes into action.
Verse 3- David is not just looking for a 'band-aid' fix, he desires to see this situation made right to the point that the Gibeonites, go from cursing to blessing the “inheritance of the Lord.”
Verse 4- It appears to me a little “middle-eastern” bartering session breaks out at this point. David is not interested in bargaining, “What do you want, bottomline?”
Verse 5- Saul is their focus.
Verse 6- Seven indicates, completeness, “Do this and it will be over, done with.”
Deuteronomy 21:23: he who is hanged is accursed of God. These descendants of Saul bore the curse Saul deserved and so delivered Israel from the guilt of their sin against the Gibeonites.Before they will bless Israel, they want Saul's “house” cursed. They want it done in Saul's hometown, and in their neighborhood. The eye for an eye law was established because these ancient societies would out do each other in killing. You kill one of us we kill 2 of you etc. Considering Saul nearly wiped them out and they are no where near calling for the wiping out of the tribe of Benjamin, mercy can be seen in this exchange, even though most people would focus on the 7 and lose sight of that. In fact, that is what we are guilty of often too. Forgetting that we are deserving of death, hell, and the grave, we get bent out of shape when the discipline of the Lord comes into our lives, or natural consequences from our sinful choices take place. Also the acknoledgement is given that Saul is, 'chosen of the Lord', but that does not change the accountability.
Part of what makes judgment, judgment is that children suffer. That knowledge should be one of the things that turns us back from sinful ways.
Verse 7- David has a vow to Jonathan too, and so Mephibosheth is spared.
Verse 8- “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” Shakespeare
We can only imagine, the difficulty here. Were these men, part of the raiding party that did the deed, part of Saul's 'bloody house'? Rizpah was a concubine of Saul, is that why her son's were chosen? Merab was the daughter promised to David but not given, after his defeat of Goliath, was that why her sons were chosen? Different ancient translations have Michal's name here and there is some confusion. I liked the explanation, that Merab had died and Michal was raising the children. Michal had sinned despising David when he danced before the Lord and her punishment was to be barren. The Bible is silent on all of this, and so we probably should be also.
Verse 9- So somewhere around April or May, these men are given over.
Verse 10- Rizpah keeps a vigil over the dead bodies which are left out, against the law which said to take them down. She is protecting their honor, and making sure that they are not 'forgotten.' (Do not hide your grief.) She does not take matters into her own hands but waits for David to act. (Do not take action out of frustration when 'leadership' is not moving fast enough for your liking.)
Verse 11- It works, word gets to David that the Gibeonites, who may not know the laws of Israel, have left the bodies out being exposed.
Verse 12- The Kingdom was in turmoil when Saul and Jonathon died in battle, a proper burial, honoring them for the position that they held in the kingdom had not taken place. Saul's 'house' could use some honor and respect at this time, and David wisely gives it.
Verse 13- He honors those who lives have made the situation right, equally as much as the former king and his beloved son.
Verse 14- Some commentators say this may have been as late in the year as October, when the “latter rains” usually came, again we are not specifically told, how long it was. But God was still acting as a result of “prayer” for the land.
Numbers 35:33:So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. The idea is that blood from unpunished murders defiles a land and God will one day require that blood from the nation. (Ah Oh)
- God expects us to keep our promises
- God expects nations to keep their promises
- Time does not diminish our obligation to promises
- God's correction may come a long time after the offense
Ultimately I can tell you that global warming, which says that the ice caps will melt and the earth will go under water is a lie. Why can I say that?
Obviously, we are not told everything about this incident; we must trust the principle stated by Abraham: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Genesis 18:25)
There are many reasons for unanswered prayer and when we see our prayers not answered we should seek God to address the problem.
“Saul and his house”, the sins of leaders affect all that they lead.
Exodus 20:4-6 You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
God is warning here that sin has consequences. When He visits the iniquity upon successive generations, He is saying is that the results and curses that come automatically often go down a handful of generations. These curses are things like diseases that might affect genetics, and they came as the result of sin. It causes a problem in the way that the next generation is formed. Therefore, this curse goes down until the gene pool is able to kick it out—three or four generations. Or more simply parents actions can bend the nature and character of their kids. Thankfully, I know, that Grace is a huge eraser.
Leviticus 26:18-2 And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.
You see, famine on the scale like this—three years—is a sign from God that things were not copasetic in the land. There were big problems, and one of them was the consequences and effects of Saul and his bloodthirsty house.
I can not find the concept in the Bible of innocent people.
In this passage, we are reminded of the importance of covenants. Throughout Old and New testament history, God dealt with men covenantally. When God spared Noah and his family, He made a covenant with them and gave the rainbow as a sign of that covenant (Genesis 9:1-17). God later made a covenant with Abraham, with its accompanying sign, circumcision (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-22). Then God made a covenant with Israel through Moses, and its sign was the Sabbath (Exodus 19-20; 31:12-17; Deuteronomy 5). God made a covenant with David to build him an eternal house (2 Samuel 7:12-17). Then, of course, there is the New Covenant inaugurated by our Lord Jesus Christ through the shedding of His blood (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 9:11-22). God has not dealt with men capriciously; He has always dealt with us in accordance with a covenant.
Sin hinders our prayers, but when that sin has been dealt with, God then heeds our prayers. Let us not underestimate the importance of prayer. Sometimes, the knowledge that sin is hindering my prayer is the only thing that drives me to apologize or make a situation right.
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
SEEING BEYOND THIS passing, futile, age, of promises unkept, and retribution and heart ache. Maranantha
My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? John 14:2