Thursday, February 21, 2013

CXVII - II Samuel 21-23

Chapter 21 - The Gibeonites Avenged

This chapter opens up saying there was a three-year famine in the land.  I cannot pinpoint the exact year this happened but that isn't necessary.  But it is necessary for a quick review of the Gibeonites because you might not remember their involvement with the nation Israel.  The 9th chapter of the book of Joshua provides the entire background for this series of events, which would ultimately cause a three-year famine in Israel centuries later.  The Gibeonites were one of several groups of people living in Canaan during the conquest of the Promised Land.  They, like all other people, were fearful of Joshua and the Israelites, and rightfully so.  Per God's instructions, Joshua was taking the land by storm, leaving few survivors.  The Gibeonites tricked Joshua into making a treaty with them.  (They wore old clothes and shoes; carried worn-out wineskins, all to make Joshua think they were from a land far away, and had traveled hundreds of miles to seek peace with him.)  Although the Gibeonites negotiated with Joshua under false pretenses, Joshua still (Josh. 9:18) had sworn "by the Lord God of Israel".  That sealed the deal as sacred and forever.  After Joshua had discovered their deceit, he honored his word by allowing them to live, but enslaved them to Israel under hard labor.  This was the covenant Saul had violated.  Through Saul's zeal, he put so many Gibeonites to death that he almost annihilated them.  Therefore, though it had been negotiated centuries earlier, the covenant was still in force.  Israel shared guilt for Saul's actions, so Israel shared its punishment, which was the famine.  {We need to always study History.}

So David approached God about the famine and God revealed to him that the cause was the breaking of the covenant with the Gibeonites.  David knew that for the sake of Israel, he must somehow right this wrong.  He asked the Gibeonites what he could do to make this right with them.  Their response was that they did not want money or land, but rather seven descendants of Saul to be given over to them.  Of course the Gibeonites wanted to kill them and David knew that, but David consented to their wishes.  And they did kill them and displayed their bodies as a way to humiliate the family of Saul.  {Displaying dead bodies was a common practice in those days.  It told all of society that revenge was exacted, therefore returning lost dignity to the offended people.}  But before we go on to the next chapter, please read vss 10-14, which tells of Rizpah, one of Saul's concubines who gave birth to two of the seven slain descendants of Saul.  Her actions so moved David that he returned honor to her and Saul by giving Saul, Jonathan, and these seven descendants a proper burial.

Chapter 22 - David's Song of Praise

Please take a few moments and read this song that David wrote.  As you read it you will see how David struggles to find words adequate to describe his feelings toward God.  He wanted God to know in writing just how wonderful David thought He was and how much David appreciated God for all His blessings upon David and Israel.  David was close to God.  David loved God and he declared his love for God in both the spoken and the written word.  I've always believed this is why God showed so much loved toward David.  But read this not only with love and admiration in mind, but also look at David's words about his enemies and how God dealt with them.

{I want to share with you just a few of my thoughts about this, and I'll be brief.  Among other specific subjects in this song, David thanks God for taking David's side against his enemies.  God showed force against David's enemies so powerful that the earth shook.  Bolts of lightening came out of the heavens, wind was blasted from the nostrils of God.  HOW TERRIFYING!!!!!  But........I've often said, "if God be for me, who can stand against me?".  I'm not trying to confuse you on this subject, but I must first qualify my thoughts.  To do this we must go to the New Testament on how a Christian is to deal with enemies.  Let's look at Romans 12:18-21, NIV - "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friend, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay', says the Lord.  On the contrary:  If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink,.  In doing this, you will heap burning
coals on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  In Paul's letter to the Romans, he could not have said it better.  However . . . . . I have had enemies in my lifetime.  Peggy's and my motto has always been "kill them with kindness".  As much as I've tried to conduct myself in a Christian manner and return kindness for evil, I've still had enemies that were not influenced favorably at all and continued to wreak havok on my life.   YOU will also have these enemies.  In
spite of everything you do, they will pop up in your life and (either directly or indirectly) cause you and your loved ones unfair grief.  You (as I) have probably prayed for God to protect you.  That's good.  However, don't be afraid to be specific.  Name names.  Describe your thoughts and desires in your prayers.  Tell Him that the person or persons are disrupting your life and ask God to intervene for you and deal with this enemy.  That enemy cannot stand against both you and God.  And He will
punish him/her to the point where you will be freed from them, just like David was.  Please do not be bashful about asking God to do this after you have done everything within your power.  I wish I had specifically asked Him to intervene and defeat my enemies by name (I only really had two).  The main thought I want to leave you with is that it is comforting to tell yourself, "if God is for me, who
can stand against me?".  Say it to yourself and believe in the power of it.  It will give you both comfort and courage, as it always did for me.}

Before we wrap up David's praise to God in song, we must enter chapter 23.  The first verse in this chapter says that these are the last works of David.  {This small section is not necessarily in order of accurance.  I believe it was placed here rather than in the Book of Psalms because II Samuel is a Historic accounting of David's life.}  These last words reveal David's lifelong awareness of having been chosen by the Lord to form and lead the nation Israel.  He ruled by divine authority, and
when he himself was ruled and led by God, his leadership kept his people in the right relationship with the Lord and brought them peace and prosperity (23:1-7).

The remaining verses of chapter 23 tell of David's "mighty men".  Over thirty men are listed.  Here proper tribute is given to God-fearing men who served and were instrumental in the building of a nation.

We will finish the Book of II Samuel in the next post.


  1. I keep reading chapter 22 over and over again especially verses 7 to 16. What a powerful image! It's so difficult to give our enemies over to God.

  2. Adam,

    I knew you would have those thoughts about giving your enemies over to God. I share those thoughts. That is why I spent so much time on it. I wanted to make certain you understand that you are to do EVERYTHING in your own power to live at peace with everyone. But if you best efforts fail, and you and your loved ones continue to be innocently victimized, don't be afraid to ask God to intervene. And be as specific as the Spirit will allow you. God bless you my dear son.