2 Samuel 21 (NRSV)
David Avenges the Gibeonites
Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. The Lord said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
This act of Saul is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible.
2So 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 tried to wipe them out in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah.)
The account of Israel promising not to harm the Gibeonites is found in Joshua 9. The nation was bound by that oath. As for Saul, good intentions do not excuse bad actions.
3David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make expiation, that you may bless the heritage of the Lord?”
4The 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 anyone to death in Israel.”
He said, “What do you say that I should do for you?”
5They 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— 6let seven of his sons (that is, male descendants) be handed over to us, and we will impale them before the Lord at Gibeon on the mountain of the Lord.”
The king said, “I will hand them over.”
David knew this was the right thing to do. Perhaps David knew that Saul’s descendants helped in or benefited directly from that massacre.
7But 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 son of Saul.
But David protected Mephibosheth because of his own promise to him. David would not fulfill one oath at the expense of another.
8The king took the two sons of Rizpah daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite; 9he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they impaled them on the mountain before the Lord. The seven of them perished together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest.
10Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it on a rock for herself, from the beginning of harvest until rain fell on them from the heavens (that is, all summer long); she did not allow the birds of the air to come on the bodies by day, or the wild animals by night.
11When David was told what Rizpah daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, 12David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan from the people of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the public square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hung them up, on the day the Philistines killed Saul on Gilboa. 13He brought up from there the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan; and they gathered the bones of those who had been impaled.
Rizpah, mother of two of the slain, holds a loving vigil over her sons. Her noble deed inspires David to his own act of charity.
14They buried the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan in the land of Benjamin in Zela, in the tomb of his father Kish; they did all that the king commanded. After that, God heeded supplications for the land.
Which is to say, God put an end to the famine.
Exploits of David’s Men
15The Philistines went to war again with Israel, and David went down together with his servants. They fought against the Philistines, and David grew weary.
David is getting old; he cannot fight the same way he once did.
16Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giants, whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of bronze, and who was fitted out with new weapons, said he would kill David. 17But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and attacked the Philistine and killed him.
When David’s strength failed, God protected him through the strength of others.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up . . . Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
Then David’s men swore to him, “You shall not go out with us to battle any longer, so that you do not quench the lamp of Israel.”
18After this a battle took place with the Philistines, at Gob; then Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giants.
19Then there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.
20There was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great size, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; he too was descended from the giants.
21When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of David’s brother Shimei, killed him.
22These four were descended from the giants in Gath; they fell by the hands of David and his servants.
I love the thought that we are God’s “mighty men” through the Lord Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit! HERE is The Maranatha! Singers and “I Am Persuaded (We Are More Than Conquerors)” by David J. Hadden.
Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.