2 Samuel 21
-The section which could be entitled “The Later Years of David’s Rule” begins in chapter 21 with the three-year famine that occurred in Israel during his reign. David sought the presence of the LORD on this matter when it began to get really bad as the land thirsted for rain and the resulting waters. The LORD frankly told His servant, “It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” There had been a covenant made with this remnant of the Amorites, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah during his reign (see Joshua 9:3-20). Therefore, at the hearing of this message of the LORD his God, David came to the Gibeonites to ask what he could do for them to make atonement for this grievous error so that they might bless the inheritance of the LORD rather than bring a curse on it. The Gibeonites had no concern for silver or gold from Saul or his house. Neither was it for them to put any man to death in Israel, but David told them he’d do whatever they asked. Then they decided, “The man (Saul) who consumed us and who planned to exterminate us from remaining within any border of Israel, let seven men from his sons be given to us, and we will hang them before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD.” David consented to this retribution, but he spared Mephibosheth because he was of the house of Jonathan whom he had a lasting covenantal oath with himself. David took the two sons of Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah and Saul, as well as the five sons of Merab, who was also a daughter of Saul. So in sum, seven men grandchildren of the deceased former king were handed over to execute justice on the breaking of this ratified covenant (or promise). They were hanged in the mountain before the LORD in the first days of the barley harvest. Rizpah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock from the beginning of this harvest until it rained on them from the sky. She would not let the birds to rest on them in the day nor the beasts of the field by night (2 Samuel 21:1-10).
-When David learned what she was doing, he went and took the bones of Saul and Jonathan back from the men in Jabesh-gilead, who had valiantly stolen them from the open square of Beth-shan where the Philistines had ruthlessly and disgracefully hanged them after the battle at Gilboa (see 1 Samuel 31). These bones were now properly laid to rest with the bones of the seven who had died sacrificially to make atonement in the country of Benjamin in Zela in the grave of Kish, the father of Saul (1 Samuel 9:1-2). “Thus they did all that the king commanded, and after that God was moved by prayer for the land (2 Samuel 21:11-14).”
-War came back to the nation from the hands of the Philistines in David’s later years. The veteran warrior went down to fight alongside his servants, but David became weary in his aging body. Ishbi-benob, who was among the descendants of the giant (Goliath), had a new sword with which he intended to kill King David. However, in a heroic feat of strength, the legendary Abishai, son of Zeruiah, had his back, helped him and struck the Philistine with a killing blow. At that scary point the men of David swore to him that he would no longer go out to battle. Otherwise he could possibly “extinguish the lamp of Israel.” They loved their king and venerated him in his posterity (2 Samuel 21:15-17).
-After this there was another war with the Philistines at Gob. It was there that Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down another descendant of the giant by the name of Saph. War eventually erupted again at Gob with the Philistines, and this is when Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear like a weaver’s beam. Then, another war occurred with the Philistines where there was a man of great stature with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. He was a descendent of the giant as well, but when he defied Israel, just like his ancestor he was struck down by Jonathan the son of Shimei, who was David’s brother. “These four (Ishbi-benob, Saph, Goliath the Gittite, and the six-fingered/six-toed man) were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants (2 Samuel 21:18-22).” It had taken hundreds of years, but Israel was finally facing their giants in faith and boldness (Numbers 13:25-33).
-*Application* There are a couple of thing we would do well to note here from this chapter. First, keep your promises and make sure future generations know the importance of steadfast oaths unto others. God hates lies, and He can’t stand for people to go back on their word. So we must be people who keep our word and make it a permanent bond. Secondly, we must have faith and boldness when the enemies of the LORD come against us. We cannot back down or wimp out. David, even in his old age, was ready, willing, and able to go to battle with the young guns. Thankfully, we can have the support and help of: 1) those who have been our trusted friends through the ages and 2) those who are new blood coming up to defeat the foes in our conflicts.
Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 21:14, 22