Study Notes

2Samuel 21:1-22


After the revolt of Sheba, the book of 2Samuel leaves the chronological timeline and spends the last four chapters recounting some additional things that happened during David's reign.

21:1 Famine

Shortly after David had become king, a famine struck the land. This was a judgment from God against the land for what Saul had done to the Ghib-OHN-ites. Now, we have a tendency to look at passages such as this, and come to the right conclusion that God judges sin, often through natural difficulties placed on people. However, our problem comes when we put God in a box and say therefore, "Every difficulty that comes about is the judgment of God on a sinner."

This is most definitely not true. Jesus was told about some Galileans who'd been killed by Pilate while they were sacrificing to the Lord.

Luke 13:2-5 And He answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were {greater} sinners than all {other} Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were {worse} culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

We can't make the blanket statement "good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people," because it's just not true. Jesus also said,

Matt. 5:45 ...He causes His sun to rise on {the} evil and {the} good, and sends rain on {the} righteous and {the} unrighteous.

David complained frequently in the Psalms that the righteous suffered and the wicked prospered. There is no way to categorize the source of difficulties. The only way to know what the reason for problems is to do as David did:

2Sam. 21:1 ...David sought the presence of the LORD...

It is only through seeking the Lord that we can discover whether something is an attack of the devil, a judgment from God, or just a difficulty in life that we must overcome.

Covenant With The Gibeonites

The Lord revealed to David that it was in fact judgment for something that Saul had done to the Ghib-OHN-ites.

Israel's history with the Ghib-OHN-ites traces back to Joshua 9, when the Israelites were moving into the promised land and conquering the Canaanites.

Josh. 9:3-5 When the inhabitants of Ghib-OHN heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry {and} had become crumbled.

They came to the camp of Israel and said, "We're from far away - make a covenant with us."

Although the Israelites were at first suspicious, they became convinced that the Ghib-OHN-ites' story was true.

Josh. 9:14-15 So the men {of Israel} took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore {an oath} to them.

Just three days later, they discovered that they'd been tricked, that the Ghib-OHN-ites were actually close neighbors living in the land of Canaan.

Josh. 9:18-21 And the sons of Israel did not strike them because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD the God of Israel. And the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders. But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, "We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. This we will do to them, even let them live, lest wrath be upon us for the oath which we swore to them." And the leaders said to them, "Let them live." So they became hewers of wood and drawers of water for the whole congregation, just as the leaders had spoken to them.

They had sworn to their own hurt (Psalm 15:4), and had to honor the covenant they'd made to be men of integrity. This was part of the Law of God as well:

Lev. 5:4 "...If a person swears thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, in whatever matter a man may speak thoughtlessly with an oath, and it is hidden from him, and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty in one of these."

Israel would be forever bound by this covenant that Joshua made with the Ghib-OHN-ites. However, King Saul was not a man of integrity. He broke this covenant by killing the Ghib-OHN-ites, even trying to commit genocide, wiping out their entire race!

21:2-3 Making It Right

David asked the Ghib-OHN-ites how he could set this right, to make atonement for the sin of Saul against their people.

I have found during many different counseling situations that people frequently have extreme difficulties with other people. There was an argument, a disagreement, a situation, a falling out, and now the relationship is estranged. And nothing is done because we don't know what we should do.

All the while, we know that we are supposed to be seeking reconciliation. But what to do? How to do it? Why not ask? Paul wrote,

Rom. 12:17-18 ...Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Imagine going to the person you've had a falling out with and saying, "I know that our relationship has been strained. How can I make it right? What can I do to make atonement for my sin? What would you like to see happen?"

Of course, we hope that they don't come up with the same suggestions as the Ghib-OHN-ites did!

21:4-6 Life For Life

The Ghib-OHN-ites asked for seven members of Saul's household to be put to death in Ghib-AW. This may sound harsh, but let's examine this for a moment.

First of all, they said that they were not interested in a ransom. No silver and gold was to be exchanged for a life.

I heard on the news Tuesday of a woman that had smoked cigarettes since the age of 13, AFTER the warnings were placed on cigarette packages. Now dying of lung cancer, she sued two tobacco companies and was awarded $20 million by a jury! Besides the ridiculousness of the lawsuit, they have basically put a price on this woman's life. Will this $20 million make the family feel better when she dies, as she is expected to, later this year? If so, that is sinful and sick! If not, then why is life something we think we can put a dollar amount on? According to the Law of God, someone guilty of murder was not allowed to pay money to make it right.

Num. 35:31 Moreover, you shall not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death.

So the Ghib-OHN-ites refused to ask for money in exchange for the lives of their brethren.

Again, according to God's law, it had to be the blood of the murderer.

Num. 35:33 ...blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.

Since Saul was dead, they asked for his blood relatives. They asked for the lives of seven of Saul's descendants. In spite of its apparent brutality, this was actually quite gracious on their part, because the Law also stated,

Exod. 21:23 shall appoint as a penalty life for life

By rights, they could have insisted on one Israelite life for every Ghib-OHN-ite that was killed.

21:7 Mephibosheth Spared

David now had to hand over seven descendants of Saul, but he did not deliver Mef-ee-BO-sheth to the Ghib-OHN-ites. As you recall, Mef-ee-BO-sheth was the crippled son of David's best friend Jonathan, the son of Saul. He'd sworn an oath to Jonathan (1Sam. 20, 23), and had committed to Mef-ee-BO-sheth that he would be treated as David's own son, eating regularly at the king's table (2Sam. 9).

21:8-9 Seven Are Hanged

David found seven other descendants of King Saul to turn over to the Ghib-OHN-ites.

2Sam. 21:8 So the king took the two sons of Rits-PAW the daughter of Ah-YAW, Ar-mo-NEE and Mef-ee-BO-sheth whom she had born to Saul, and the five sons of May-RAWB the daughter of Saul, whom she had born to Ad-ree-ALE the son of Bar-zil-LAH-ee the Mekh-O-law-thite.

So Saul's sons Ar-mo-NEE and Mef-ee-BO-sheth (the crippled Mef-ee-BO-sheth's uncle) were killed. You may be asking yourself, "Hey, didn't all of Saul's sons except Eesh-BO-sheth die back in 1Samuel 31?" Well, yes and no. Sons born to concubines were not allowed to ascend to the throne. Rits-PAW had been a concubine of Saul's. Thus, when Saul's sons were killed by the Philistines, it was only his legitimate sons. Rits-PAW's sons were still alive, and blood relatives, thus they were chosen.

Five of Saul's grandsons were also handed over to the Ghib-OHN-ites and hanged in Saul's hometown of Ghib-AW.

21:10 Rizpah's Action

Rits-PAW the daughter of Ah-YAW, mother of two men that were executed, could not stand to see her sons picked apart by birds or wild animals. She camped out by the bodies, driving away scavengers.

21:11-14 David's Reaction

When David heard what Rits-PAW had done for her sons' bodies, he gave them a decent burial in the country of Benjamin in TSEH-lah, along with the bones of Saul and Jonathan that had been rescued from the Philistine city of Bayth-SHAWN by the men of Yaw-BASHE Ghil-AWD.

21:15-17 A Giant Killed

At another time in Israel's history, David and his men were fighting the Philistines. David was getting old and tired, and Yish-BO-beh-nobe, one of the gigantic sons of Goliath, tried to kill him. But Ab-ee-SHAH-ee, the son of Tser-oo-YAW jumped in and killed the Giant.

After this incident, his men came to realize how important it was that the king remain alive, so they told him that he should no longer go out to battle.

21:18-22 More Giants Killed

2Sam. 21:18-22 Now it came about after this that there was war again with the Philistines at Gobe; then Sib-bek-AH-ee the Khoo-SHAW-thite struck down Saf, who was among the descendants of the giant. And there was war with the Philistines again at Gobe, and El-khaw-NAWN the son of Yah-ar-AY O-reg-EED the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. And there was war at Gath again, where there was a man of {great} stature who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also had been born to the giant. And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shim-AW, David's brother, struck him down. These four were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

These four giants were sons of Goliath, whom David had killed in his youth. Some have speculated that when David took five smooth stones out of the brook when facing off with Goliath, that he was actually just getting one for each of the giants!

But the thing that I notice about this is that David was a giant killer, and because of this, the men who followed him became giant killers also. Ab-ee-SHAH-ee, Sib-bek-AH-ee, El-khaw-NAWN, and Jonathan had become like the man they followed.

This ministers to me that we are becoming like the man we follow - Jesus Christ. The more time we spend with Him, the more we imitate Him, the more we become like Him.

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