David Deals with Saul's Sin
April 29 - Nº 119 2 Samuel 21
David’s last years in the palace were far from easy. A terrible famine devastated the land for three years. When David sensed that this must be more than a natural, weather-related phenomenon, he bowed before God and begged Him to end it. God informed David that King Saul “and his blood-stained house” had broken a covenant that Israel had made with the Gibeonites four centuries earlier. Joshua had made a peace treaty with this Canaanite nation soon after he led the nation into the Promised Land (see #65 - Victory at Ai). However, instead of honoring the treaty and protecting the Gibeonites as the Israelites were supposed to, Saul and his family tried to annihilate them completely. Now, in order to end the famine, David needed to make things right with the Gibeonites and receive their blessing. David summoned the few Gibeonites who remained in the land and acknowledged the terrible wrongs that had been done to them. He asked what Israel could do to reconcile matters with them. He offered to give them gold and silver, but the Gibeonites didn’t want money. They wanted revenge! They wanted to do to Saul’s descendants what he had done to theirs. They wanted to kill seven of Saul’s descendants! So David captured Saul’s remaining sons and grandsons and handed them over to the Gibeonites. He spared Mephibosheth because of his relationship with Jonathan (see #110 - David Shows Kindness). The Gibeonites killed them and hung their bodies on a hill near the Tabernacle. Although David had moved the Ark of God to Jerusalem, the altar and the Tabernacle still remained in Gibeon. Any Israelites going to worship God and make sacrifices could see the bodies of Saul’s sons, reminding them of the consequences of the nation’s broken promise. After the bodies had hung in Gibeon for a while, David gathered the remains, along with the bones of Saul and his three sons that had previously been taken to Jabesh (see #105 - Saul and His Sons are Killed in Battle) and gave them a proper burial in the tomb of Saul’s father. Not long after that, God heard the Israelites’ prayers and sent rain. The famine ended. Meanwhile, the Philistines continued to invade and attack Israel as they had since the time of the Judges (see #76 - A Son Named Samson and #78 - Samson's Revenge). During one of their many skirmishes, David accompanied his troops onto the battlefield. Suddenly he became exhausted. A relative of Goliath saw him collapse and ran at him with his sword drawn. As this giant was about to plunge his sword into the king, Abishai, David’s nephew, lunged at the mighty Philistine and killed him. David was escorted off the battlefield and his men swore to him saying, “Never again will you go into battle with us. You are the Lamp of Israel and we don’t want our lamp to be extinguished on the battlefield.” The younger men in his army continued to fight the Philistines until all of Goliath’s relatives were removed from the land. David’s military career had ended just as it had begun—with him facing a Philistine giant. But now, the next generation of Israelites had proven they were ready to take over.
Are you careful about the promises you make? Pledges must never be made carelessly or taken lightly. Few things cause more pain than broken promises. Any violations of our promises must be made right if we want to receive God’s blessings.