Explore the Bible
August 12 2018
2 Samuel 21:1-6 10-14 (HCSB)
Famines during biblical times were not uncommon. They were usually caused by irregularities in rainfall destructive hailstorms plagues of insects and/or crops being destroyed by an enemy.
The famine during David’s reign lasted three consecutive years. David inquired of the Lord as to the reason for this famine. The Lord told David it was the result of Saul’s killing the Gibeonites. Saul had been dead for more than 30 years and this sin had yet to be dealt with.
David offered to make immediate restitution. He wanted the Gibeonites to be in a position to bless Israel and he wanted them to enjoy the blessings of God (Gen. 12:1-3). The Gibeonites requested that seven male descendants of Saul be handed over to be hanged in the presence of the Lord.
In light of the New Testament and our Christian experience this sounds rather morbid and disgusting. We should understand David is dealing with law and not grace. He is dealing with Israel and not the Church. The Gibeonites’ request was not unreasonable. The Law of Moses required unsolved murders to be atoned for by sacrifice (Deut. 21:1-9). This sacrifice was not for spiritual atonement but for legal retribution.
David agreed to hand them over. We are not told how the seven were executed but their bodies were hung on a hill until the first days of the harvest which was about six months later. During this time Rizpah protected the bodies of her sons and nephews by keeping the birds away from them by day and from wild animals by night. David was moved by her act of love and had the bones gathered up along with those of Saul and his sons and brought the bones of the whole family and buried them in their family’s tomb.
We need to understand that one man’s sin can affect a whole family and an entire nation. God judges nations and holds them accountable. David sought God. So must we. God will provide direction and strength when His people face trying times.