Avenging the Gibeonites


2 Sam 21:1-22

Troubles in David‘s time were not yet over. The chapter begins by telling us that there was a famine in the land which continued for three years. When David inquired of the Lord he however found that the famine was as a result of Saul’s sin against the Gibeonites in slaying them. We should remember that during Joshua’s time, Israel had already made an agreement not to destroy the Gibeonites, and they were allowed to be servants in the land (Joshua 9:1-27).

So, on inviting the Gibeonites to ask what could be done to atone Saul’s sin and reverse the famine, the Gibeonites demanded for seven men of Saul’s sons to be delivered to them for hanging before the Lord in Gibeah. David spared Mephibosheth because of his covenant with Jonathan, but he handed over seven men of Saul’s son to the Gibeonites who hanged them.

However, before God was entreated for the land, something remarkable happened. Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, who was a concubine of Saul is not a very common name in the bible but she did something very commendable. When the seven sons were hanged on the tree, two of which were her own sons, she took a sackcloth and spread it on the rock from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and did not allow neither birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor beasts of the field by night. We can imagine the stench she would have needed to bear with, the coldness of the night, the flies, the dangerous birds and animals, but she stayed there notwithstanding. When David heard of her bravery, he was prompted into action, as he went to collect the bones of Saul and Jonathan from the men of Jabeshgilead who stole them before now, and they also gathered the bones of those hanged before giving proper burial burial to Saul and Jonathan. It was after this that the famine ended – Mizpah definitely played an important, easy-to-overlook role.

The chapter ended as we heard of the exploits of some of David’s men. as David waxed old, he still went to battle, and almost got killed by Ishbibenob the Philistine giant if not for Abishai‘s intervention. Three other giants of the Philistines were also killed by Sibbechai, Elhanan and Jonathan. So, Israel’s victory over the Philistines continued well into David’s old age, as his men took after his bravery in defeating his own first Philistine in Goliath.

Some verses to remember

vs 1:  Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

vs 10: And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.


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