The Gibeonites, Rizpah, and the Giants (2 Samuel 21; 1 Chronicles 20:4 – 8)

A famine came upon the land for 3 years.  David asked God why, and He reminded him of Saul’s killing of the Gibeonites.  David sought out the Gibeonites and sought to make restitution.  They did not want money, but did ask that seven of Saul’s descendants be given to them for execution.  David consented, sparing Mephibosheth, and they hanged seven sons of Saul in the first days of the barley harvest.  The mother of two of the men, Rizpah, spread sackcloth on the Rock and guarded the bodies from animals from the beginning of the harvest until the late rains came.  When David heard about her mourning and her faithfulness, he took their bones and the bones of Saul and Jonathan and buried them in the tomb of Kish.  The God heeded their prayers and healed their land.

The Philistines were at war with Israel, and David went out to battle.  He became faint, and Ishbi-Benob, one of the Philistine Giants, went to kill him with a sword.  Abishai killed the Philistine, and they told David he could no more go out to battle.  In the ensuing days, the mighty men of David killed Saph (another giant), and the brother of Goliath (another giant), and a man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot (another giant).  Thus four Giants were killed by the servants of David.

Sin is never an isolated incident.  I have said this for years.  No sin is ever committed in a vacuum, nor does it only affect the sinner himself.  No, sin and its effects permeate and affect the lives of those around the sinner as well.  Saul’s sin affected the entire nation of Israel, and there was a famine.  David had to atone for the sins of Saul by offering up seven of his sons to the Gibeonites.  This is an type of the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of all mankind and, while it may seem extreme, did stop the famine in Israel.

Rizpah is a picture of a devoted mother who, even after death, cared for her children sacrificially.  The love of a mother for her child is strong but this picture shows just how far a loving parent will go to care for her children.  She did not have the authority to take their bodies down from the hanging place, but she did protect them from the animals until David intervened and brought them home for burial.

Finally, it is very fitting that the might men of David were in the giant-killing business.  David set the bar when he killed Goliath as a young man.  His servants killed four Giants, continuing the tradition of fearless warfare and overcoming odds in order to further the cause of the Lord of Israel.  We must be willing to follow the example of Christ and those who have gone before us, and kill our own Giants!

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