A MOTHER’S LOVE
Thank you, Father, for your Word, written for me so that I might know you and learn how to live for you. As I study today, show me ways to apply what I read.
Read 2 SAMUEL 21:1-14
The Gibeonites Avenged
21 During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
2 The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) 3 David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?”
4 The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” David asked.
5 They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, 6 let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul—the Lord’s chosen one.”
So the king said, “I will give them to you.”
7 The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the Lord between David and Jonathan son of Saul. 8 But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab,[a] whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite. 9 He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the Lord. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.
10 Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night. 11 When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.
14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land.
- 2 Samuel 21:8 Two Hebrew manuscripts, some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac (see also 1 Samuel 18:19); most Hebrew and Septuagint manuscripts Michal
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectConsider those God has given to you to love and nurture. Now consider the ways in which you make his kingdom appealing for them.
This is not an easy story to read or apply. David’s prayerful response to a famine results in God directing him to a historic massacre conducted by his predecessor Saul, who pursued a policy of executing a number of Gibeonites, even though they were protected by a historic oath (Joshua 9).
This injustice is avenged by the execution of seven of Saul’s sons, bringing the famine to an end. But within this bloodthirsty tale, we encounter the mother of two of the executed men sitting on the rock where they are displayed. The dead men are not given a proper burial, their bodies exposed to the elements. Rizpah sits and mourns until the rains come and the famine ends.
There’s dignity here in the midst of revenge and loss; a mother whose only desire is to give her children a decent burial. For the sake of her loved ones, she faces down the bitterness of her enemies and guards their remains. There are times when circumstances render us speechless and all we can do is love and wait.
Do you see inequity or injustice anywhere around you—in your church, your community? How can you address what you see?
Lord, I live today in the knowledge of your great love and care. Injustice and cruelty are all around, but I ask that you help me go deep into your love and show it to everyone I meet.
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