II Samuel 21
(vs. 1-14) The facts are:
1. A famine continuing for three years, and inquiry being made of the Lord
by David, he is informed that it was in consequence of Saul’s sin in slaying
2. David, asking of the Gibeonites what he shall do for them by way of
atonement for the wrong done, is informed that they seek not gold or the
life of any man of
put to death, and hung up in Gibeah of Saul.
3. David at once yields to the demand, but spares Mephibosheth in
consequence of the special bond between himself and Jonathan.
4. On the seven men being put to death, Rizpah spreads out sackcloth on a
rock, and keeps watch by the corpses against beasts and birds of prey till
the rain falls.
5. David is told of the deed of Rizpah, and he soon after obtains the bones
of Saul and Jonathan from Jabesh-Gilead, and causes the remains of the
seven sons to be collected, and has the bones of Saul and Jonathan interred
in the family burying place in Zelah of Benjamin. We assume that the
record in this chapter refers to an earlier period in the life of David than
does the narrative in the few preceding chapters, which evidently are
designed to set forth the connection of David’s great sin with its
punishment. The story relates the incidents connected with an otherwise
unrecorded sin of Saul’s, and the retribution which came in due course
upon his house. The varied questions and topics of interest and difficulty
suggested by the narrative may be best seen and considered by taking them
in their natural order.
1 “Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after
year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered,
It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.”
There was a famine in the days of David; Hebrew, and there
was. There is an entire absence of any mark of time to show in what part of
David’s reign this famine took place. It does not even follow, from the
mention of Mephibosheth’s name, that it must have happened at a time
subsequent to the sending for that prince from Machir’s house; for it may
have been the search after the descendants of Saul which made David
remember the son of his old friend. The burial, however, of the bones of
Saul and Jonathan as an act of respect to the slaughtered king makes it
probable that the narrative belongs to the early part of David’s reign, as
also does the apparent fact that the seven victims were all young and
unmarried. Mephibosheth, we read, had a young son when David sent for
him. Now, he was five years old when his father was slain (ch. 4:4),
and thus at the end of David’s reign of seven years and a half at
three years, and if David had been king four or five years when the famine
began, Mephibosheth, at the age of twenty, might well have a “young son”
in a country where men marry early. We cannot believe that the famine
occurred long after David had been king of all
would have been unjust and even monstrous to punish a nation for the sins
of a king who had long passed away. The sins of its rulers are visited upon
a nation constantly through a long series of years, but it is always in the
way of natural development. A statesman may put a nation upon a wrong
track, and may involve it in serious difficulties, and even in irretrievable
disaster, unless some one be raised up able to make it retrace its steps and
regain the rightful direction. But this famine was a direct interference of
remembrance. Had it been an old crime long ago forgotten, instead of
leading men to repentance, this long and terrible punishment would have
hardened men’s hearts, and made them regard the Deity as vindictive. It is
even probable that the sin was still being committed; for though
commenced and approved by Saul, his oppression and purpose of gradually
destroying the native races was too much in accord with men’s usual way
of acting not to be continued, unless stopped by the justice of the ruler. We
all know how the Red Indian, the Bushman, the Maori, and the Australian
disappear before the advance of the white man. It needs only apathy on the
part of the government, and rougher methods for clearing them off are
practiced than men would care to own. So with Gibeonites and Perizzites
and other native races, a similar process would be going on. The lands they
held, their little villages, their pastures, and above all their strongholds,
would be coveted by the dominant race, and entrenchments would lead to
quarrels, in which the natives would find any resistance on their part
punished as rebellion. Even David seized the hill fortress of Jebus for his
capital, though he still left Araunah the nominal title of king (ch. 24:23).
Saul had lent all the weight of the royal authority to the
extermination of the natives, and this chapter records the Divine
condemnation of wrong done by the dominant race to the aborigines. It
remains to this day the charter for their protection, and not only forbids
their extinction, but requires that they shall be treated with fair and even
justice, and their rights respected and maintained. It has been objected that
the execution of Saul’s seven sons was a political crime committed to
render David’s throne secure. If at all to his advantage, it was so only to a
very slight extent. The sons of Rizpah could never have become pretenders
to the throne; nor were the sons of Merab likely to be much more
dangerous. In a few years they would have married, and formed other ties,
and been merged in the general population. Mephibosheth was the heir of
Saul, and David protected him and Micha his son. It was quite in the spirit
of the times to visit upon Saul’s house the sins of its chief. The principle
was the same as when all
his oxen and his asses, his sheep and his tent, for bringing iniquity upon the
people (Joshua 7:24-25). We keep chiefly in view the doctrine of
personal responsibility; in the Old Testament the other doctrine of the
collective responsibility of a family, a city, a nation, was made the more
prominent It was the Prophet Ezekiel who in ch. 18:20 stated clearly and with
Divine force that “the soul that sinneth it shall die;” but that the sinner’s
son, if he walk in God’s statutes, shall not die for the iniquity of his father
he shall surely live. But the collective responsibility enacted in the second
commandment is still God’s law. In the philosophic jargon of our times the
two factors which form human character and decide our fortunes are
“heredity and environment.’’ Heredity was the prevailing sentiment in
David’s days; and it seemed right to the Gibeonites that the sons of the
man who had slaughtered them should die for their father’s sins; and it
seemed just to David also. But he spared the heir to Saul’s throne. There is
no adequate reason for supposing that David was influenced by political
motives, and the more important lesson of the narrative is the emphatic
condemnation given in it of wrong and cruelty to aboriginal tribes. David
inquired of the Lord; Hebrew, David sought the face of Jehovah. The
phrase is remarkable, and not found elsewhere in Samuel. Probably it
means that he went to
Urim and Thummim. His bloody house. The Hebrew means “the house on
which rested the guilt of murder.”
Seeking God’s Face (v. 1)
“David sought the face of the Lord” (Revised Version). The Authorized
Version has here “inquired of the Lord,” as in ch. 2:1, where it is
the translation of a different phrase. Doubtless the substantial meaning is
the same. But, as with words, so with phrases, two are seldom wholly
synonymous; and the differences are often instructive, suggesting each its
own train of thought. So it is with these two phrases. That in the Revised
Version leads us to think of:
realize His presence, behold His glory, be made sensible of His majesty,
holiness and loving kindness. Or, in greater strictness, this may be said to
be preliminary to the worship of Him. We come into His presence that we
may present to Him our adoration, praises, confessions, and prayers. We
must not be content with coming into His house, seeing His servants, joining
in ceremonies — leaving, as it were, our names and messages, engaging
and depending on the intercession of those who are supposed to approach
nearer to Him. Our heavenly Father does not keep such state as to exclude
or repel any one from coming near to Him. He wishes to see His children, to
smile upon them, to embrace them, to speak with them. Any methods of
worship which keep men at a distance from Him are contrary to His will.
The mediation of Christ is not a substitute for intimate converse with God,
but a means of attaining it, as we may see by considering:
are, doubtless, difficulties in the way of the approach of men to God. These
are removed pre-eminently by THE MEDIATION OF OUR LORD!
Ø Ignorance separates from God; Christ makes Him known. By His
teaching, by His own character, and by the Spirit He imparts to His disciples.
“In the face of Jesus Christ” we see that of the Father (II Corinthians 4:6;
Ø Sin separates from God; Christ delivers from sin.
o He has atoned for sin by His death. He “suffered for sins, the Just for
the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18). He has thus
removed the barrier presented by the justice of God and “the curse of
the Law” (Galatians 3:13). And through faith in Christ the conscience
is purged from sin by HIS BLOOD (Hebrews 9:14), and the believer
has “boldness to enter into the holiest” (ibid. 10:19-22). Through
Christ the face of God shines with a benignant brightness on those
who approach Him.
o Christ cleanses the nature and character from sin. He thus produces
that purity of heart which is necessary for those who would “see God”
Ø Not only the putting away of sin, but certain positive dispositions are
necessary in seeking the face of God. Christ has secured and He imparts
these. To His disciples is given “the Spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:15),
and thus they come to God with confidence, affection, and self-surrender.
Thus CHRIST IS “the Way” by which we “come to the Father” (John
14:6). “Through Him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father”
if we would behold it with joy. He sometimes surprises men by sudden and
unexpected manifestations of Himself to them; but this will ordinarily be to
those who love Him and are in the habit of seeking Him (see John 14:19-23).
(“Make our abode with him” – Immanuel – God with us – ibid. v. 23;
Matthew 1:23 – CY – 2018) Hence the exhortations, “Seek the Lord,...
seek His face evermore” (Psalm 105:4); “Seek, and ye shall find”
(Matthew 7:7; compare II Chronicles 7:14; - This would happen in
CY – 2018). (When the Lord says “Seek ye my face” may our reaction be,
“Thy face, Lord, will I [we] seek.” Psalm 27:8 – CY – 2018)
“This is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek thy face, O God of
Jacob” (Psalm 24:6). “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart
said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8).
Ø The godly are impelled to this:
o By love to God, and consequent longing after Him (Psalm 42:1-2;
o By faith in Him and in His promises (Hebrews 11:6).
o By the sense of needs which only God can supply.
o By memory of former converse with God, and of the enjoyment and
profit derived from it.
Ø Hence they seek God’s face daily; and with special earnestness in times
of special difficulty or danger. David felt how much he needed Divine
guidance in reference to the famine which for three years had harassed the
country; hence he “sought the face of the Lord.” In trouble the Divine call
may be heard, “Seek ye my face;” and many begin to do so when trouble is
(Isaiah 45:19), although at times it may appear to be so (Job 23:3-9).
“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all
your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13) is a promise of universal applicability.
And to gain the vision of God’s face is to be blessed indeed. The sight of
Ø Calms and soothes and comforts the heart. As a mother’s face soothes
the suffering child,
“Sorrow and fear are gone,
Whene’er thy face appears:
It stills the sighing orphan’s moan,
And dries the widow’s tears:
It hallows every cross;
It sweetly comforts me,
Makes me forget my every loss,
And find my all in thee.”
Ø Encourages to pray. When His face is seen, we are enabled to tell Him
all that is in our heart, with the assurance of success in our suit.
“Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him:
God is a refuge for us. Selah.” (Psalm 62:8)
Ø Sheds light into the soul. The “light of His countenance” scatters the
darkness. Perplexities are half solved as soon as we have caught sight
of THE FACE OF GOD!
Ø Produces likeness to Him. “We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him
as He is” (I John 3:2) is a promise partially fulfilled in the present life.
“.....goldliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the
life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (I Timothy 4:8)
Ø The crowning result is to “see His face” in the fulness of its glory, and
forever. (Revelation 22:4.) But to those who refuse to seek Him,
turning to Him their back, and not their face (Jeremiah 2:27), He says,
“I will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their
calamity” (Jeremiah 18:17); and they will at length say “to the
mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of
Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb”
2 “And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the
Gibeonites were not of the children of
the Amorites; and the children of
Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the
incidental circumstances that Saul, in some part of his reign, manifested
great zeal in an attempt to carry out literally the enactments of the Levitical
Law; but he seems to have done so with the same ferocity as that which he
displayed in slaughtering the priests at Nob with their wives and children.
Thus he had put to death wizards and all who dealt with familiar spirits
(I Samuel 28:9), in accordance with Exodus 22:18 and
Leviticus 20:6. In the same way he seems to have tried to exterminate
the aboriginal inhabitants of
Deuteronomy 7:2, and had especially massacred a large number of
Gibeonites, in violation of the covenant made with them by Joshua and all
vineyards” robbed from them to give to his captains, his conduct was
probably popular, and the cause of a general system of wrong and
oppression practiced upon all the natives. It had thus become a national sin,
and as such was punished by a national calamity. Amorites; that is
highlanders, mountaineers. Strictly they were Hivites (Joshua 9:7).
Unrighteous Zeal (v. 2)
“And Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children
after his sparing Amalek (and to make amends for it); or at the time of his
massacre of the priests at Nob (where the Gibeonites then assisted the
Levites, before the removal of the altar and tabernacle to
probably at the time of his expulsion of the necromancers and soothsayers
(I Samuel 28:3); being “one of those acts of passionate zeal in which
he tried to drown the remorse of his later years.” His zeal (like that of
others in later times) was:
1. Religious and patriotic in intention and profession; to purge the land of
the remnant of the heathen (Deuteronomy 7:2, 24), to honor God, to
benefit his people. Good intentions are not enough to constitute good
2. Blind and willful, “not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2; Acts 26:9).
3. Irreverent and ungodly; in violation of a solemn compact in the name of
God, and against those who were consecrated to His service. His humblest
ministers should be held in respect.
4. Unjust and ungrateful; for they had done no wrong, but had performed
5. Proud. and tyrannical; regarding them with contempt, and taking
advantage of their defenseless condition (I Samuel 22:6-19).
6. Cruel and murderous.
7. Selfish and covetous; to appropriate the spoil to his family and adherents.
8. Popular and acceptable. The people never forgave the crafty manner in
which they had originally been induced to spare their lives, looked upon
them with suspicion and dislike, and readily sympathized with Saul’s attack
upon them (as they did not in the case of the priests at Nob), and
consented to share the plunder.
9. Restrained and unsuccessful. Some survived. It is seldom that
persecutors are able to do all they endeavor to do.
10. Infectious and disastrous, in its influence on his family and the nation.
3 “Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for
you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless
the inheritance of the LORD?” Wherewith shall I make the atonement, etc.?
Literally the verb means to “cover up,” the idea being that of a veil drawn over
the offence to conceal it by means of a gift or offering. Thence gradually it
attained to its religious idea of an expiation.
4 “And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold
of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in
No silver nor gold. It is a common practice in most semi-civilized
nations for a fine to be accepted as compensation for the shedding
of blood. As no distinction was drawn between murder and homicide, and
as the nearest relative was bound in every case to revenge the blood shed,
the custom of receiving a money compensation gradually grew up to
prevent the tribe or nation being torn to pieces by interminable revenge.
The Arabs still retain this usage, but it was forbidden by the Levitical Law
(Numbers 35:31), and rightly so, because a distinction was there made
between murder and accidental bloodshed, and precautions taken for the
rescue of one who had not acted with malice. Neither for us shalt thou
kill any turn in
answer, in the same way as in ch. 19:42-43. Literally their words
are, It is not to me a matter of silver and gold with Saul and his house, nor
is it for us to put to death any one in
compensation, and it is beyond our power to exact the blood penalty which
would gratify our anger.” They make it quite plain that they do want blood,
while the Authorized Version makes them say that they do not. The
Revised Version more correctly translates, “Neither is it for us to put any
man to death in
5 “And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that
devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in
any of the coasts of
language of this verse makes it plain that Saul had been guilty, not merely of
some one great act of cruelty, but of a long series of barbarities intended to
bring about their utter extirpation.
6 “Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang
them up unto the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD did
choose. And the king said, I will give them. 7 But the king spared
Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the
LORD’s oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan
the son of Saul.” We will hang them. The punishment indicated here really was
impalement, but in Numbers 25:4, where the same verb is used, we find
that the criminals were put to death first, and that the impalement was for
the purpose of exposing their bodies to view, like the practice a century
ago of gibbeting. But the Gibeonites were probably very barbarous, and,
when David had delivered the seven lads into their hands, would perhaps
wreak upon them a cruel vengeance. Seven were chosen, because it is the
perfect number, with many religious associations; and unto the Lord
means “publicly.’’ So among the Romans sub Jove meant “in the open air”
(compare Numbers 25:4). In Gibeah. This was Saul’s native place and
home, and was selected by the Gibeonites as the spot where the bodies
should be exposed, to add to the humiliation and shame of the fallen
dynasty. Saul, whom the Lord did choose. If this reading is correct, the
phrase can only be used as a taunt. But in v. 9 we find bahar, “on the
hill,” instead of behir, “chosen,” and the right reading probably is, “in
Gibeah, or, the hill of Jehovah.”
8 “But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah,
whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five
sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for
Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:” Michal. It was Merab who
became the wife of Adriel the Meholathite (I Samuel 18:19). Michal was
childless (see ch. 6:23). Whom she brought up for. This is one of the many
cases of untrustworthiness in the renderings of the Authorized Version.
We have noticed a very flagrant instance before in ch. 5:21. The object of
these mistranslations is always the same, namely, to remove some verbal
discrepancy in the Hebrew text. The Hebrew says here “five sons of
Michal, whom she bare to Adriel;” but Michal never bore a child, therefore
something must be substituted which will save the Hebrew from this verbal
inaccuracy, and Michal must be represented as having taken Merab’s place
(perhaps at her death), and been foster mother to her children. This
explanation is, it is true, taken from the Jewish Targum; but the Targum
never professes to be an exact translation, and constantly perverts the
meaning of the plainest passages for preconceived reasons.
9 “And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they
hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven
together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first
days, in the beginning of barley harvest.” The beginning of barley harvest.
The barley became ripe in April, about the time of the Passover (Deuteronomy
16:9). The wheat was not ripe till Pentecost.
10 “And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for
her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water
dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of
the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.
11 “And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the
concubine of Saul, had done.” Rizpah ... took sackcloth, and spread it for
her upon the rock; rather, against the rock, so as to form a little hut or shelter
to protect her from the glaring blaze of the sunshine. The word “upon” has
led many commentators to suppose that she used it as a bed; but this is not
the meaning of the Hebrew, though given by the Vulgate. The sackcloth
was the loose wrapper or cloak which formed the outer dress of mourners.
As regards the bodies of those crucified or impaled, the Law required that
they should be taken down and buried that same evening
(Deuteronomy 21:23). Here they remained exposed for six months, as a
grim trophy of Gibeonite vengeance. Until water dropped upon them
out of heaven; Hebrew, was poured upon them; until copious and heavy
rains came. The outpouring of these rains would put an end to the famine,
and be regarded as a proof that the wrath of Heaven was appeased. There
is no reason for supposing that these rains came before the usual period, in
autumn, which was about the middle of October. Thus, for six months,
with no other protection than her mantle of sackcloth hung against the
rock, this noble woman watched the decaying bodies of her loved ones,
until at last her devoted conduct touched David’s heart, and their remains
were honourably interred.
A Mother’s Love and Grief (v. 10)
This verse is part of a narrative full of difficulty and darkness. It stands out
a bright light in the midst of the darkness — a grand exhibition of
a mother’s love.
but always in some way or other; as:
Ø By the conduct of her children.
Ø By the conduct of others towards them.
Ø By their troubles.
Ø By their deaths;
especially when untimely or by violence; and most of all when their
untimely or violent deaths are the penalty of their misconduct, which was,
however, not the case with the sons of Rizpah.
brings grief, through making the sorrows of others our own, as well as
rendering us sensitive to their treatment of ourselves. The more deep and
tender the love, so much the more poignant the grief. And, as a mother
loves most, she is most susceptible of sorrow. She is often pained by her
children when they do not think it; and every stroke inflicted on them
strikes her to the heart.
freely, spontaneously, making no calculation, asking for no return. Not
without hope, indeed, that she may one day be rewarded by her children’s
welfare and affection; but far from regulating her love by this: rather she
lavishes it most on those from whom she cannot expect recompense — the
weakest, the most sickly, those most likely to die; yea, as Rizpah, those
who are dead. “Death might bereave her of them, but not them of her love”
arduous labors, long and wearisome watching, self-inflicted privations,
for the good of her children. For the sake of their health, she willingly
hazards, and even sacrifices, her own. For the sake of their education and
advancement, she cheerfully gives up, not only luxuries, but comforts, and
even necessaries. And when they have gone beyond her reach into the
unseen world, their mortal remains are dear to her, and she will spare
nothing that may honor them or prevent dishonor to them. Of such
affection Rizpah is a signal instance.
watching day and night (with the aid, doubtless, of her servants) by the
crosses on which the bodies of her sons and other relatives hung, that
neither vulture, nor jackal, nor any other “bird of the air” or “beast of the
field” might devour, or mangle, or even “rest on” them, until she had
gained her point in their honorable burial. A striking example of the
persistence of a mother’s love. But this was only the crowning proof of her
affection. A mother’s love is lifelong. “A mother’s truth keeps constant
youth.” It endures through years of toil, hardship, and suffering; when
feebly responded to, or quite unappreciated, or requited by neglect,
hardness, or cruel wrong. When son or daughter is utterly debased and
degraded, the mother clings and hopes; when cast off by all the world, she
does not abandon them.
“Years to a mother bring distress,
But do not make her love the less.”
Thus it was with Rizpah. What she had done was reported
to the king; it aroused his attention to his neglect to give honorable burial,
in the family sepulchre, to the bones of Saul and Jonathan. He now
repaired the neglect, and buried, not only them, but (as is implied) the
remains of the seven which had so long been hanging exposed, “in the
exercised a powerful beneficial influence. Moreover, it received honorable
mention in the holy records, and wherever the Bible comes, “there shall
also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her”
(Matthew 26:13). And although usually the light of a mother’s love
shines chiefly in the privacy of home, and she neither asks nor expects
applause or record, it is impossible that she can act a noble part without
exercising an influence for good which may widen and ramify far more than
she could have imagined, and may secure her an honor she never desired.
And if no others, “her children arise up, and call her blessed” (Proverbs
31:28), and tell of her character and works to their children.
1. If human love be so deep and strong, what must be THE LOVE OF GOD,
from whom it springs, and of which it is one great sign and proof? All the
love of all parents, of all human beings, FLOWS FROM THIS ORIGINAL
FOUNTAIN! The Fountain is greater than the streams.
2. Mothers should seek to have their love perfected, by being sanctified
and elevated by the love of God, and directed supremely to the ends which
He seeks — the moral, spiritual, and eternal welfare of their children. With
this view, they should watch carefully their living children (as Rizpah her
dead ones), and especially whilst they are young, that they may not be
defiled or injured by foul bird or beast.
3. How strong and constant should be the love of children for their
mothers! Prompting them to all that would gratify and honor them and
promote their happiness; to self-denial and self-sacrifice for their good,
should they live to need the help of their children; and to patience and
forbearance towards them, should they, under the infirmities of old age,
make demands on these virtues. “Despise not thy mother when she is old”
4. How base the conduct of many children (especially of many sons) to
their mothers! Selfishly wasting their resources, imposing on their
credulity, abusing their indulgence, disgracing their name, breaking their
hearts. “A foolish [wicked] son is the heaviness of his mother”
12 “And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of
Jonathan his son from the men of Jabesh-gilead, which had stolen
them from the street of Bethshan, where the Philistines had hanged
them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa:
13“And he brought up from thence the bones of Saul and the bones of
Jonathan his son; and they gathered the bones of them that were
hanged.” The street of Beth-shan; Hebrew, the broad place, or square,
just inside the gate, where the citizens met for business. It was upon the
wall of this square that the Philistines had hanged the bodies of Saul and of
his sons (I Samuel 31:12). The men of Jabesh-Gilead; Hebrew, the
lords or owners of Jabesh-Gilead. The phrase occurs also in I Samuel
23:11-12 of the citizens of Keilah, and is found also in the Books of
Joshua and Judges. (For the brave exploit of these men in rescuing the
bodies of their king and his sons, see I Samuel 31:11-13; and for
David’s generous approval, here, ch. 2:5.)
14 “And the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son buried they in the
country of Benjamin in Zelah,
in the sepulchre of
and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that
God was intreated for the land.” The bones of Saul and Jonathan.
The Septuagint adds, “and the bones of them that were hanged.” As it is
expressly said in v. 13 that these bones were collected, we cannot doubt but
that the remains of the seven grandsons were interred with those of Saul and
Jonathan, in the tomb of
Septuagint has preserved words that have dropped out of the Hebrew text,
or has added them to make the fact plain, is more than we can answer.
Zelah. Nothing more is known of this place than that it was in the tribe of
A Story of Deferred Retribution (vs. 1-14)
FORGOTTEN SINS. Whatever physical account may be possible of the
famine referred to, looked at in its relation to God’s education and
discipline of His ancient people, it is here to be viewed as a providential call
to the nation to reflect on sins committed during the reign of Saul. The
conduct of Saul was a most scandalous sin (Joshua 9:8-17). When the
sin was committed we know not; probably in the latter part of his reign,
when all was in confusion. His family were, it would seem from vs. 1, 4-6,
implicated in the deed. It is obvious that the nation had condoned the
action of Saul, and for some years subsequent to his death there was no
conscience in the people with respect to this great sin. It was for the
purpose of arousing the public conscience and giving occasion for bringing
this sin to mind that the famine was permitted to arise. Even though the
famine was by natural causes, yet it was used by God for this special moral
end. There is a tendency in nations especially to be unmindful of their sins,
and individuals also are liable to the same danger. The eager rush of affairs
and absorption of energy in new lines divert attention from the moral
character of acts. The forgotten sins of men are countless. BUT GOD
DOES NOT FORGET and now and then events arise — calamities,
personal troubles, and disagreeable consequences of former deeds — which
are practically God’s calls to us to remember our transgressions. The prophet
no longer proclaims, but God reaches the conscience in manifold ways, and to
many an easy-going soul the words will come some day, “Son, remember.”
The mention of famine in the land, and the public sin of the late king as
being related the one to the other, establishes in this instance, on the
authority of God, the close connection of moral and physical evil. Whether
famines do not arise where there is no special moral evil of which they are
the chastisements or reminders, is not the question, and makes no
difference to the fact in this case. God would have His people know that
their past sins were now bearing fruit in physical form. Nor is there
anything really wonderful or exceptional in the truth here established. To
man, physical evil is, as a whole, the fruit of sin. Man’s moral nature is in
contact with the physical order by means of a material vehicle, and as his
moral nature is supreme and cannot but affect, by its deterioration and
wrong direction, the vehicle by which it acts, so the lesser must be
disordered by the disorder of the greater. The miseries of human life would
not have come had man kept his first estate, All our painful struggles in
commerce and war, our diseases and poverty, are the outcome of a heart
not as the heart of God.
Ø that Pharaoh should be swept into the sea,
were but physical facts consequent on sin, bold and striking, yet not different
in essence from the general connection of sin and suffering. Hence, Christ’s
mission to make man’s physical environment forever helpful and not hurtful
to him, by rendering his moral nature perfect, and therefore his whole
nature in perfect adjustment to all that is.
CONNECTED WITH OUR PHYSICAL TROUBLES. The famine was a
reality in the experience of every one; but it was the will of God that the
people should notice its connection with national sin. They must consider
its spiritual bearings; they must associate their difficulties with previous
conduct. As a rule, there is an indisposition to do this. Physical law, fate,
chance, almost anything, is referred to as being occasion or cause of
present difficulties and sufferings, rather than personal sin. Of course,
individual sin is not the cause of great public calamities, and not
immediately of private sufferings. Yet we ought, as a matter of rigid
thought, to trace back the physical troubles of the world, so far as man is
sufferer, to the moral cause. In nations troubles are referred to the
restlessness of other nations, or ignorance of political economy, or of
sanitary laws, or decaying commerce; but we should go deeper, and see
what pride and arrogance and defiant tone may have done to inflame other
nations, and what sinful neglect in spending money on wars rather than on
instruction of the people. In personal life we should search and see to what
extent failures in business, in health, and enterprise are connected with
persistent violation of some of the primary laws which God has given for
are evident difficulties connected with this narrative which press upon the
ordinary reader at once. The demand for seven lives, and the yielding to the
demand, both perplex us. The pressure of a famine on a whole people, and
the use of that famine for purposes of chastisement for a sin of years past,
do not lessen the perplexity. Apart from this narrative, we know nothing of
any act done by Saul toward the Gibeonites. Now, if instead of this abrupt
declaration of the existence of a national sin, and of the retribution for it in
the terrible form of seven deaths, we were told of the precise circumstances
under which Saul violated the national compact of Joshua 9:15-17, we
should then certainly see the wisdom and appropriateness of the famine to
arouse the national conscience, and the justice of the terrible retribution on
Saul’s family. The clue here missing because of the incompleteness of
history is but an instance of what constantly occurs. In the Bible there are
many facts which doubtless would lose all their strangeness and seeming
discrepancies and moral difficulties did we but know the details left
unrecorded. Historians are guided by this remembrance of missing clues in
their estimate of men and characters. In our judgment on conduct we often
fail or are in suspense because a clue to some strange feature is lacking.
Especially are we at present lacking the clue to many events in the
government of God. When we know more perfectly, we shall see that to be
just which is now perplexing, and, as a rule, we may say that our ignorance
of hidden facts ought to count in our judgments on revealed truth as much
as our knowledge.
OF SIN STRAIGHT HOME TO THE CONSCIENCE. The famine
aroused conscience. The men of
the facts home to the conscience of the nation. The confusion and change
of government in the last days of Saul and early years of David, before he
Gibeonites did not press their suit earlier. Although the sin was so
grievous, it must have appeared to any who now and then reflected on it as
though it were being passed by, and that no means were at hand to bring
the new king face to face with the wrong done. But at the proper season
God found means for calling forth the Gibeonites to declare the full facts
and to bring the sin home to the national conscience. They proved what the
famine only indicated. According to Scripture, all sin is to be brought home
to the sinner. The time may pass, and means for so doing may seem to be
lacking; but THE UNIVERSE IS GOD’S and He has in reserve agencies
by which the guilty will be found out and the claims of a violated law will
be vindicated (Ecclesiastes 11:9).
charge of the Gibeonites against the house of Saul was that he, contrary to
the solemn compact with
demand was that for this wicked violation of a treaty the lives of his sons
should be forfeited. Here was an appearance of hardship on the sons; but,
had we the missing clue, it would probably appear that they were parties to
the deed? The deed, however, was national, being wrought by the
representative of the nation; and, acting on the usage of the age in such
matters, the Gibeonites demanded that the lives of the representatives of
the nation of that date should be sacrificed. The principle was that of lex
talionis — “an eye for an eye.” We are not called upon to pronounce a
harsh judgment on their demand. It may, however, be said, in extenuation,
that if Saul and his family were the real murderers of the Gibeonites, there
was no more wrong in their execution than in the execution of any modern
murderer. The principle on which the claim proceeded was that of all
criminal law in relation to human life. The Law of Moses was based on it.
“An eye for an eye” (Exodus 21:24) is but a statement of the principle
that runs through all the Mosaic laws (compare Leviticus 24:17-22). Ox for
ox, sheep for sheep, life for life, — this was the form of the old
jurisprudence. It is also, so far as circumstances permit, the principle of
modern law and modern punishment. According to a man’s crime so is his
punishment. With us the loss of liberty is the form punishment takes, but its
degree depends on the degree of the crime. Proportion is kept in view in
every sentence. The words of our Saviour (Matthew 5:38-39) are not
intended to set aside the administration of justice by the state, but to
indicate that the personal feeling of His followers is not to be vindictive. In
the spiritual kingdom all are brethren beloved, and love is to be the
dominant feeling. Moses was speaking of what “judges,” administrators of
the public laws of the state, should do (Deuteronomy 19:16-21), and in
the discharge of official duty:
Ø they were to be impartial, and
Ø not pity or spare. (In modern liberal progressivism, there is a
tendency to be lenient to the guilty – they say that fear has no
place in justice, but Deuteronomy 19:20 says differently –
when proper justice is carried out “And those that remain
shall fear....” – CY -2018)
Christ speaks of what His individual followers should do and be in
their personal relations to brethren in the new spiritual kingdom; they must
not imagine, with the Pharisees, that a principle of action designed for
“judges” in a state is to be transferred to their private relationships in His
kingdom. Moses distinguishes between the rigid execution of justice on
crime and the individual cherishing of tender and pitiful feelings
(Deuteronomy 19:16-21; compare Exodus 22:21-27). The rules for a
state are not to be confounded with rules for individual life.
nation. David was quick to see that the wrong done in cruelly violating a
national treaty must be atoned. Apart from the form of atonement in this
case, the principle recognized is most important. When nations lose faith in
nations, trouble must come in terrible form. A nation’s word should be
sacred, and in relation to the weakest and most barbarous as to the
mightiest and most civilized. The methods adopted for upholding national
honor will vary with the conceptions of what that honor is. To keep
faith, to be courteous and considerate to the weak, to allow of no unjust
concessions to the great because they are great, and to promote peace and
righteousness in all relationships, — this is that in which honor lies. There
is no true glory, no maintenance of honor, in creating wars, in mere
military triumphs, or in vaunting of greatness.
MEN. The promises made to the Gibeonites in the days of Joshua differed
from all engagements entered into by other people, in that they were the
promises of the chosen race, whose conduct towards others was based on
higher principles. David felt at once that it would be shocking to allow
heathen men to imagine that the servants of the covenant keeping God
could break their vows. The possession of a religious character or the
adoption of religious professions lends a special sacredness to our
engagements. It is no wonderful thing if one who believes in no eternal
morality easily sets aside what others hold to be binding engagements; and
a careless man of the world, whose religion is only a name, may not excite
surprise if he sometimes violates his word or does a mean action. But to be
a follower of Christ lends an unusual sanctity to everything in life. The
Apostle Peter has suggested “what manner of persons” we ought to be by
virtue of our holy profession (II Peter 3:11), and our Lord Himself expects
more of His followers than can be looked for from others (Matthew 5:43-48).
We should not forget that we may compromise the honor of our Lord in
our words and deeds.
PRIVATE ENGAGEMENTS. David, acting according to the light and
usage of the age, felt bound to give up the male members of the house of
Saul; but he had made a personal promise to Jonathan (I Samuel 20:14-17;
23:16-18) to spare the members of his house, and had especially taken
Mephibosheth under his care out of love for his father. Here, then, was a
conflict of opposing obligations. The solution was obvious. He had kept his
promise, and had not, as kings too often were accustomed to do with the
families of rivals, cut off the house of Saul on ascending the throne. If he
gave them up now it was not a personal act, but an act in the
administration of law. But, further, he seems to have regarded the oath to
Jonathan as relating to his own immediate descendants, and hence he
spared Mephibosheth in order to keep his kingly promise while making
acknowledgment for the sin of Saul. Rulers are bound to be true to
national obligations, though at the cost of much feeling, and sometimes it
will require more than mere casuistry to be true to private sentiments and
obligations while discharging public duties. Self is never to be degraded in
public affairs. If in nation or Church the rulers cannot conscientiously
discharge obligations involved in the office, the proper alternative is to
vacate the office.
Rizpah in keeping off birds and beasts of prey from the corpses, and of
David in collecting the bones and placing the remains of Saul and Jonathan
in their family burying place, was worthy of their character; it indicated a
refined feeling, a reverence for the dead, a deep sense of the sanctity of all
that pertains to human life and human destiny. The mortal remains of friend
and foe are touchingly suggestive of the greatness and littleness of man, of
his checkered lot on earth, and the strange unknown experience on which
his higher nature enters while his perishable remains abide with us.
Famine (vs. 1-14)
“And there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year”
(v. 1). Summary of the remaining portion (or appendix) of this book:
1. The famine.
2. Victorious acts in wars with the Philistines (vs. 15-22).
3. David’s song of thanksgiving (looking backward – ch. 22);
4. David’s last prophetic words (looking forward - ch. 23:1-7);
These two lyrical and prophetic productions of David, the ripest
spiritual fruit of his life, form a worthy conclusion to his reign (Keil).
5. List of his heroes (forming, with 2, an historical framework for 3 and 4 –
ch. 23. 8-39);
6. The pestilence (with the famine, “two Divine punishments inflicted upon
famine took place after Mephibosheth
was brought to
and, perhaps, about seventeen years after the death of Saul (ch. 4:4; 9:12).
It is mentioned here “as a practical illustration, on the one hand, of the
manner in which Jehovah visited upon the house of Saul, even after the
death of Saul himself, a crime which had been committed by him;
and, on the other hand, of the way in which, even in such a case as
this, when David had been obliged to sacrifice the descendants of Saul to
expiate the guilt of their father, he showed his tenderness towards him by
the honorable burial of their bones.” After long prosperity and plenty
there came adversity and destitution. No rain “out of heaven” (v. 10) for
three successive years! What a scene of general, intense, and increasing
distress must have been witnessed (Genesis 12:10; 26:1; 47:13; Ruth 1:1;
I Kings 18:5; II Kings 6:25; Jeremiah 14:1-10; Acts 11:28). Nor has it been
unknown in modern times. Consider it (with its attendant circumstances) as:
Jehovah” (v. 1), equivalent to “inquired of Jehovah” (ch. 5:19),
by means of the Urim and Thummim through the high priest (the last
recorded instance of this method of ascertaining the Divine will, henceforth
more fully revealed through the prophets); urged by the cry of distress,
especially among “the poorest sort of the people of the land” (II Kings
24:14), on whom the famine pressed with peculiar severity.
Ø The misery of the poor and afflicted produces in every faithful ruler and
in every right hearted man a feeling of compassionate and anxious concern.
Ø Physical calamities are often due to moral causes; they follow human
disobedience to moral laws; being in some cases manifestly connected with
such disobedience (as when famine follows desolating wars, agricultural
neglect, etc.), in others, however, not directly and apparently so connected.
This connection is evident:
o from the common convictions of men who instinctively associate
calamity with crime;
o from the plain teachings of Scripture (Deuteronomy 28:15, 23-24;
Ezekiel 14:21); and
o from the moral government of the living, personal God, wherein all
things are ordered with a view to moral ends.
Ø These causes should be diligently searched out, by proper means —
observation, consideration, prayer — in order to their removal. “It is not
superstition, but rather the highest piety and the highest philosophy, which
leads a people, under such a visitation as that of famine, to turn to Jehovah,
saying, ‘Show us wherefore thou contendest with us ‘“ (Job 10:2;
W.M. Taylor).“Let us search and try our ways,” etc. (Lamentations 3:40;
I Samuel 4:3).
(through the oracle), concerning Saul and concerning the blood guilty
house, because he slew the Gibeonires.” A crime which had been
committed, not recently, but twenty or even thirty years before, was
brought to remembrance, and set before the national conscience, quickened
in its sensibility by the experience of affliction. “David must hitherto have
ruled in a very irreproachable manner to render it necessary to go further
back to find a cause for the calamity” (Ewald).
Ø Its iniquity was great. An attempt was made to exterminate (consume
and destroy, v. 5) a poor, dependent, and helpless people; of the original
inhabitants of the land (ve. 2; Joshua 9:3-27), spared by solemn oath,
devoted to the
service of the sanctuary (now at
years dwelling peaceably among “the children of
guilty of no offence; many of them being ruthlessly slain, others escaping
Ø Its effects were still felt by the “hewers of wood and drawers of water”
(Nethinim, bondmen – Joshua 9:23), who survived, in bitter grief, popular
odium, heavier servitude. Their cries “entered into the ears of the Lord of
sabaoth” (James 5:4).
Ø Its guilt was unacknowledged and unexpiated; the wrong unredressed,
the sin unrepented of, and even ignored and well nigh forgotten. “It would
seem that Saul viewed their possessions with a covetous eye, as affording
him the means of rewarding his adherents (I Samuel 22:7) and of
enriching his family; and hence, on some pretence or other, or without any
pretence, he slew large numbers of them, and doubtless seized their
is said that he did this in his zeal for
this cannot be explained but on the supposition that the deed was done in
order to give the tribes possession of the reserved territories of the
Gibeonites. And there is no doubt this would be, as it was designed, a
popular and acceptable act (Joshua 9:18). Saul’s own family must have
been active in this cruel wrong, and must have had a good share of the
spoil; for we find them all, when reduced to a private station, much better
off in their worldly circumstances than can else be accounted for” (Kitto).
Here lay the secret of the famine, which was interpreted as a sign of Divine
“He turneth a fruitful land into a salt marsh,
Because of the wickedness of them that dwell therein.”
crime are followed by Divine punishment, and the wrongs of the poor and
needy avenged (I Samuel 30:15-17), but also that men are dealt with
by God (in the way of chastisement) as communities, as well as separate
souls (Ezekiel 18:2-4).
Ø The guilt incurred by individuals is participated in by the nation to which
they belong when their wrongdoing is connived at, profited by, and not
repudiated; and especially when the wrong-doer is its recognized
Ø The infliction of suffering on a whole nation, on account of the sins of
one or more persons therein, is often needful for the vindication of public
justice, the reparation of wrong doing, and the general welfare.
(This term is in the United States Constitution and most deplorably
has been ignored in Congress and the Supreme Court as many of
their acts and decisions are not in the best
interests of the
Genesis 9:6; Numbers 35:31; Matthew 5:18 - CY – 2018)
Ø Although a nation may be exempted for a season, through the
forbearance of God, from the chastisement due to sin, it does not escape
altogether, but is surely called to account in this world. “Nations as nations
will have no existence in another world, and therefore. they must look for
retribution in this” (Wordsworth). “I can perceive in the story a recognition
of the continuance of a nation’s life, of its obligations, of its sins from age,
to age. All national morality, nay, the meaning and possibility of history,
depends upon this truth, the sense of which is, I fear, very weak in our
day” (Maurice). “Time does not wear out the guilt of sin, nor can we build
hopes of impunity on the delay of judgments” (Matthew Henry).
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily,
therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do
evil.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11)
Gibeonites, and said… What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I
make the atonement [expiation, satisfaction, means of reconciliation], that
ye may bless [and no more curse] the inheritance of Jehovah?” (vs. 2-3);
“What ye say, I will do for you” (v. 5). Whilst acknowledging the
national wrong, he also acknowledged the national obligation, and
expressed his purpose:
Ø To redress their grievance, satisfy their claim for justice, and secure
their favor and intercession.
Ø To respect the justice of God (by whom their cause was manifestly
maintained), so that prayer might be heard, and the famine removed.
Unless right is done, prayer is vain! “If I regard iniquity in my heart,
the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66:18).
Ø And to do whatever might be possible and necessary for these ends.
“The land must expiate the king’s wrong. This is rooted in the idea of the
solidarity of the people, and the theocratic king as representative of God’s
people, whence comes solidarity of guilt between king and people”
(Erdmann). David herein acted wisely and in a theocratic spirit.
expiation was made by the crucifixion of the two sons of Rizpah and the
five sons of Merab (Hebrew, Michal), “whom she bare to Adriel,”
according to the demand and by “the hands of the Gibeonites” (v. 9),
under the authority and sanction of the king (and doubtless with the
approval of the nation). The demand:
Ø Could be satisfied with nothing short of this. “We will have no silver nor
gold,” etc. (v. 4); no private compensation could atone for such a public
crime and willful sin “before the Lord.”
Ø Accorded with the requirements of the Law (Genesis 9:5-6;
Numbers 35:31); or at least with the custom of blood vengeance, and
the then prevalent ideas of justice. If (as is probable, v. 1) the hands of
the sons of Saul were stained with blood, the Law demanded their death;
if (as may have been the case) they were personally guiltless, they
suffered from their intimate relationship to the murderer, as a “vicarious
sacrifice,” and for the benefit of the nation. “To understand this
procedure, we must bear in mind the ancient Oriental ideas of the
solidarity of the family, strict retaliation and blood revenge — ideas
that, with some limitation, remained in force in the legislation of the
old covenant” (Kurtz).
Ø Was restricted by merciful consideration for the assuredly innocent
and steadfast fidelity to a solemn engagement. “And the king spared
Mephibosheth,” etc. (v. 7). “The obscurities of this narrative probably
may never be entirely cleared up. One thing, however, is certain — these
seven descendants of Saul were not pretenders to the crown; and David
cannot be suspected of having embraced such an opportunity to put them
out of the way. Neither is it to be supposed that David delivered up the
innocent contrary to the Law (Deuteronomy 24:16). They were,
therefore, delivered up to the avengers of blood and punished with death,
not on account of the crimes of Saul, but for the murders which they
themselves, with the connivance of Saul, had committed on the
Gibeonites, and for which they had hitherto remained unpunished”
(Jahn, ‘Heb. Com.,’32.).
regarded as having actually taken part in the crime or not). “As seen by the
people, the execution of Saul’s sons (who were not charged with being in
any way personally accessory to their father’s crime) was a judicial act of
retribution; but this aspect of the transaction was only an ‘accommodation’
to the current ideas of the age. Viewed in its essential character as
sanctioned by God, it was a didactic act, designed to teach the guilt of sin”
Ø to produce repentance, and
Ø prevent its recurrence.
That melancholy spectacle of a sevenfold crucifixion “on the mountain before
Jehovah,” in “Gibeah of Saul” (I Samuel 10:5; 22:6), declared:
Ø The exceeding culpability of unrighteous zeal, of the wanton violation
of sacred pledges, of the unjust taking away of human life. (a la –
Abortion on Demand – 60,000,000 senseless murders of helpless children –
Four hundred years before and now, these Gibeonites were helpless!
“Let us here learn the danger of trifling with oaths and solemn engagements.
Four hundred years had elapsed since the treaty made with the Gibeonites; and
yet in the sight of God it was as sacred as ever (so the command to Noah,
thousands of years before 2018 – Genesis 9:6-7 – is still sacred as ever
regardless of what Pope says – CY – 2018); so that he who presumed
to infringe it drew down a severe judgment on the whole nation”
(Lindsay). (Pope Francis has extended indefinitely the power of Catholic
priests to forgive abortions, making the announcement in an apostolic
letter released Monday, July 30, 2018 – CNN – I do not watch CNN and
except for the liberal Bing search engine, would not have used this as
a source. However, it did not matter as I curiously used Google; Yahoo,
and MSN.com. and they were all unified in their presentation. See
my take at this website – http://www.adultbibleclass.com - # 8 –
Abortion Rationale 2012 – CY – 2018).
Ø The inevitable, rigorous, and impartial execution of DIVINE JUSTICE!
Princes are not above its correction, nor bondsmen below its protection
(much less such a one as you or I, probable somewhere in the middle!
CY – 2018).
Ø The far reaching consequences of transgression; to the children and
children’s children of the transgressor. “The evident intention of God in
ordering the death of so many of Saul’s family” (which, however, is not
expressly stated) “was to give public attestation of the abhorrence of Saul’s
deceitfulness and cruelty, and to strike into the hearts of his successors on
the throne a salutary dread of committing similar offences. (Back to the
value of fear and dread as mentioned above ! CY – 2018). The death of these
seven persons, therefore, is not to be regarded as a punishment inflicted
upon them for personal offences, even though they might have a share in
their father’s persecution of the Gibeonites, but an act commanded by God
in virtue of His sovereign rights over the lives of all men, to teach princes
moderation and equity, and to prevent the perpetration of enormous
crimes, which are inconsistent with the welfare of the civil government
(also as mentioned above about the welfare of citizens in the United
States – CY – 2018) as well as incompatible with the principles of
[the expiation] God was entreated for the land” (v. 14).
Ø “Long forgotten sin had been brought to mind and acknowledged
Ø homage had been paid to justice;
Ø the evil of unfaithfulness had been exposed;
Ø the honor of the nation had been purged from foul stains;
Ø it had been shown that neither kings nor princes can do wrong with
Ø maternal fondness had been touchingly displayed; (Rizpah –
Ø a long forgotten duty had been attended to;
Ø a noble example had borne fruit; and after that
Ø God was entreated for the land.
The generous heavens poured down their showers, the languishing life of
field and vineyard revived, and the earth was clothed with beauty and
teemed with fruitfulness again. There was one more proof of the everlasting
truth, ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people”
Proverbs 14:24. (C. Vince)
Rizpah (vs. 8-14)
“And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth,” etc. (v. 10; ch. 3:7).
The days of harvest had come; but not the fruits of harvest.
The heaven was brass, and the earth iron (Deuteronomy 28:23). The
misery of famine was accompanied by a sense of Divine wrath on account
of sin. The guilt of blood was on the land, and especially on “the house of
Saul,” for the destruction of the Gibeonites. Nothing would satisfy the
demand of the sorrowing bondservants of
restore Divine favor, save the death of seven men of Saul’s family
(John 11:50). These, therefore, two of them being sons of Rizpah, were
taken and crucified (Numbers 25:4) at once on the hill before Jehovah,
and their remains left unburied, a prey to ravenous birds and beasts. And in
her maternal grief and affection, spreading sackcloth on the rocky floor
(either for her bed or as a rough tent to shelter her), she watched them
there, under the scorching sun by day and the drenching dews by night, and
protected them from molestation until they received an honorable burial.
“They were accounted as accursed and unworthy of the burial of dogs; but
she would not cast them out of her heart. The more they were shunned by
others, the more she clung to them; and the deeper the disgrace, the deeper
her compassion.” Observe:
natural affection that prompted her watching near the dead. Regarding
their unburied condition as one of ignominy (Psalm 79:2), and perhaps
as, in some way, affecting their happiness in the future life, she was
desirous of their being honorably interred. It was deemed necessary
(unlike what was required in other instances, Deuteronomy 21:22-23)
that they should remain exposed before Jehovah till assurance was given,
by the fall of rain, that the satisfaction was accepted. If she could not do
what she would, she would do what she could (Mark 14:8); (I remember
one Sunday night listening to a sermon on WKOA, a local radio station
now defunct, on the way home from church. A black minister, I do not
recall his name, preached on this woman who did what she could. That
has been over a half-century ago – it made an impression on me to this
day! Now that it is close to half a century that I have had the privilege
and responsibility to teach The Adult Bible Class over Radio WHOP AM
at 9:20 every Sunday morning, I can only trust that God will recall something
from His Word to the minds of others like me, whom I have had the
opportunity to stand before and proclaim the Word of God! CY – 2018);
and, by preventing further injury, render the fulfillment of her desire possible.
Her intense maternal love led her to seek the safety and honor of the dead;
well may a similar love lead others to seek the safety and honor of the living!
Ø Her unquenchable attachment. Others might despise them as criminals,
but she could only regard them and cling to them as children (Song of
Ø Her humble submission and resignation to what was unavoidable. “Truly
this is a grief, and I must bear it” (Jeremiah 10:19).
Ø Her entire self-surrender and self-sacrifice. If she could not remove their
reproach, she could share it with them.
Ø Her patient endurance of suffering; through long and lonely nights, and
dark and dreary days.
Ø Her ceaseless vigilance, zeal, and courage.
Ø Her unwearied, faithful, hopeful perseverance. “The emotions in woman
act as powerful motives on the will, and, when strongly called forth,
produce a degree of vigor and determination which is very surprising to
those who have usually seen the individual under a different aspect”
Ø Her importunate prayers for the fulfillment of her desire. “She refrained
from all violent and illegal methods of gaining her object. She used no
force or stratagem to secure for her beloved ones a safe and decent burial;
but waited watchfully, meekly, and humbly, for the time appointed by the
Lord. Neither did she give way to despondency, and quit the melancholy
scene in wild despair; but did what she could to alleviate the dreadful evil.
Though her heart was broken and her grief too bitter for utterance, she still
hoped in God, still looked for His merciful interposition, and waited day
after day, and night after night until the rain of heaven came down and
released the bodies of her beloved ones” (Hughes, ‘Female Characters of
stated) “showers of blessing” fell, and her wish was accomplished.
Loving, faithful, devoted service:
Ø Exerts an undesigned influence on others. “And it was told David
what Rizpah......had done.” (v. 11).
Ø Fails not, sooner or later, to receive its due reward.
Ø Is followed by effects greater than any that were desired or expected.
“David was pleased with her tenderness, and was excited by her example to
do honour to the bodies of Saul and Jonathan (ch. 2:5-7);
I Samuel 31:12-13) and thus showed that he did not war with the dead,
and that his recent act in delivering up Saul’s sons was not one of personal
revenge, but of public justice” (Wordsworth). She did more than she
intended;. and what she did is to this day “told for a memorial for her.”
(As the woman in Mark 14:9)
(vs. 15-22) - The facts are:
1. In one of his wars with the Philistines David waxes faint in personal
conflict with a giant, and is succored by the intervention of Abishai.
2. Observing the failing strength of the king, his people deprecate his going
forth with them to battle, lest by personal failure he should be a means of
3. On each of three subsequent occasions of battle, a Philistine giant is slain
respectively by Sibbechai, Elhanan, and Jonathan son of Shimeah. It is of
no moment as to what precise period in David’s life the battles with the
Philistines belonged. The first impression on reading the narrative and, at
the same time, remembering the promise that
the land, is the tediousness of the process by which the complete
subjugation of the heathen was effected, and the imperfection of the result
even at this late period in the national history.
represented the principles of true religion as against idolatry, and the
special object of David’s wars was to render the cause he represented
triumphant over all enemies, and so establish the theocracy on an enduring
basis. The difficulties of achieving the end in view are suggested by the
necessity of these successive conflicts with a most active and stubborn foe.
In general outline we have here an analogy with the work which the
Christian Church has in hand, and the difficulties attending its speedy and
complete accomplishment. The difficulties attending the subjugation of all
a reign of righteousness in the earth, may be indicated as follows.
the Philistines had yet war again with
went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines:
and David waxed faint.” Moreover. A new narrative begins here, and the
heroic acts related in it are taken probably from some record of the martial
deeds of David and his mighties. We have already seen that the Book of Jasher
(ch.1:18) was a national anthology, full of ballads and songs in
praise of glorious exploits of
recorded here apparently was a history in prose, and commenced, perhaps,
with David’s own achievement in slaying Goliath — a deed which called
forth the heroism of the nation, and was emulated by other brave men.
These extracts were probably given for their own sake, and are repeated in
I Chronicles 20:4-8, where they are placed immediately after the
capture of Rabbah; but they here form an appropriate introduction to the
psalm of thanksgiving in ch. 22. It was usual in Hebrew, in making
quotations, to leave them without any attempt at adapting them to their
new place; and thus the “moreover” and “yet again,” which referred to
some previous narrative in the history, are left unchanged.
16 “And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of
whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he
being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David.”
Ishbi-benob. The Hebrew has Ishbo-benob, which Gesenius
interprets as meaning “dweller upon the height.” But surely the man’s
name would not be Hebrew; he was a Raphah, and we shall not be able to
explain his name until we know the language of the Rephaim. Of the sons
of the giant; Hebrew, of the children of the Raphah; that is, he belonged
to the race of the Rephaim, the word not signifying “sons,” but the
members of a stock. It is translated “children” in Numbers 13:22, 28,
etc. (For the Rephaim, see note on ch. 5:18.) “The Raphah” may
be the mythic progenitor of the Rephaim, but more probably it is simply the
singular of “Rephaim,” and “children of the Raphah” a more poetic way of
describing the race. Three hundred shekels. It weighed, therefore, about
eight pounds; the spearhead of Goliath was just twice as heavy (I Samuel 17:7).
Girded with a new. The Vulgate supplies “sword,” which
the Authorized Version has adopted. The Septuagint reads a “mace”
instead of “new;” others think that he had a new suit of armor. If the
narrator had thought it of sufficient importance to let us know that the
article was new, he would scarcely have left the thing itself unspecified. It
is evident, however, that the Septuagint did not read hadasha, “new,” but
the name of some strange warlike instrument, which being unknown to the
scribes, they substituted for it a word which they did know, but which
makes no sense. We cannot, however, depend upon the translation of the
Septuagint, “mace.” The want of special knowledge on the part of the
translators of the Septuagint, though partly accounted for by the long
upon such knowledge of their language as survived at
than we should have expected or can quite understand. Here, however,
there is nothing remarkable in their not knowing the exact meaning of this
curious weapon of the Rephaite; but plainly it could not be a mace, but
must have been something that could be girt upon him. The Authorized
Version, moreover, gives a look of probability to the insertion of “sword,”
which is wanting in the Hebrew; for it does not connect his purpose of
killing David with the hadasha. The Hebrew is, “And Ishbo-benob, who
was a Rephaite, and whose spear weighed three hundred shekels, and who
was girt with an hadasha; and he thought to smite David.”
17 “But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succored him, and smote the
Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David swear unto him,
saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou
quench not the light of
men were specifically the mighties, who had so long been his friends and
companions. They now bound him by an oath never again to fight in person,
lest he should be singled out for combat by some warrior among the enemy and
slain. The light
there was life there, and so it became the symbol of prosperity. In Job
18:5-6 the extinction of the lamp signifies the destruction of the family.
David was evidently now king, and under him
freedom and empire. His death would have plunged the nation back into
weakness and probable ruin.
The Lamp of
In the view of his followers, David was the lamp (Hebrew, naer) or glory
of the nation, and the continuance of his life and reign was essential to its
welfare. This is a striking testimony to their estimate of his personal
character and faithful and prosperous rule. Similar language is used of
others. “He was the lamp that burueth and shineth,” etc. (John 5:35;
8:12; Matthew 5:14). And every faithful servant of God is “a light giver
in the world” (Philippians 2:15). Such a lamp is:
None are so ready to recognize dependence upon God for life and all good
as the devout man himself.
“Thou art my Lamp, O Jehovah,
And Jehovah enlightens my darkness.”
(ch. 22:29; Psalm 18:28; 27:1.)
“David’s regal life and actions were the light which the grace of God had
kindled for the benefit of
position, his success, they are all humbly, gratefully, and constantly
ascribed to their Divine Source by the faithful servant; and, whilst we
admire Him, we should “glorify God in Him” (I Corinthians 15:10;
men light a lamp and put it under the bushel,” etc. (Matthew 5:15).
“Heaven does with us as we with torches do,
Not light them for themselves,” etc.
(‘Measure for Measure,’ act 1 sc. 1. William Shakespeare)
By his counsel, his example, his endeavors, his prayers, he renders
invaluable service to others in directing them in perplexity and peril;
preserving them from error and evil; stimulating them to effort and conflict;
and contributing to their safety, prosperity, and lasting happiness.
is liable to be quenched. Life is always precarious; the life of some
peculiarly so; like that of David when he went down into the conflict
(vs. 15-16; ch. 5:17-25), waxed faint, and was set upon by the giant
Ishbi-benob, in a new suit of armor. And it is not only natural life, but also
moral and spiritual life, that is beset by danger. The part which a good man
takes in the conflict between good and evil attracts the attention of his
adversaries, makes him a special object of attack (I Kings 22:31); his
efforts are exhausting, and his zeal is apt to consume him (Psalm 69:9;
119:139). “Ernestus, Duke of Luneburg, caused a burning lamp to be
stamped on his coin, with these four letters, A.S.M.C., by which was
meant, Aliis serviens meipsum contero, ‘By giving light to others I
consume myself’” (Spencer).
and zealously guarded. “And Abishai succoured him, and he [Abishai,
or perhaps David, (v. 22] killed him,” etc. The preserving care of God
(ch.8:14) does not render needless human sympathy, assistance,
prudence, resolution (ch. 18:3). He who freely spends his
strength and risks his life for others ought to be esteemed, considered,
defended, and helped by them (I Thessalonians 5:12-13, 23; II Thessalonians
3:2; Hebrews 13:17); and, herein, they also benefit themselves and the
whole community. “If any man serve me, let him follow me,” etc.
The Unquenchable Light (v. 17)
“That thou quench not the light of
speak, and doubtless the multitude of his subjects, regarded him as the light
(literally, as in Revised Version, “the lamp”) of the nation — its guiding
mind, its safety, glory, and joy. His death would involve the nation in
darkness — in perplexity, confusion, peril, and trouble. Such was likely
enough to be the consequence of his death at that period. Nevertheless,
David, as a moral and spiritual light, burns on still for all peoples and
generations. Death did not quench this light. More emphatically is this true
of Jesus Christ our King.
man every man that cometh into this world” (John 1:9); actually
enlightening those who receive Him. He is their:
Ø Teacher and Guide. Through whose revelations they know:
o God and Himself and themselves;
o sin and righteousness;
o heaven, and the way to it;
o perdition, and how to escape it;
o the real worth of things;
o the wisdom needful for the guidance of life.
Christ sheds light upon all things — the light by which their true
character and relations are made apparent.
Ø Safety and Salvation.
o In darkness is peril;
o in light security.
Ø Glory. Imparting to them of His own luster.
o In knowledge and conscious safety are:
§ happiness and
o in ignorance,
§ perplexity, and
Ø Not the light of His personal glory. In the battle with his foes and ours,
He fell and died; but He rose again, and to a greater brightness of glory, in
consequence of His death. His cross itself is a great light for men. He lives
above all the power of His enemies. He goes with His people to battle, but
cannot be touched by the foe.
Ø Nor the Light He has become to men through the knowledge He has
given to the world. Great and formidable and persistent have been the
efforts to extinguish the light; BUT IT BURNS ON UNQUENCHED
AND UNQUENCHABLE! It may be obscured here and there, and for a
time, but IT CAN NEVER GO OUT! It will yet shine forth over the whole
earth, and SCATTER ALL the darkness of error and sin.
Ø Nor the Light He is to each of His believing people. Through life, and in
death, and FOREVER, He remains their Light. His presence in their
hearts is their wisdom and joy under all circumstances.
Ø Be grateful for Him.
Ø Accept the light He sheds.
Ø “Walk as children of light.”
Ø Be lights yourselves. Shine by speech, and especially in your
lives! (“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see
your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
18 “And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the
Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which
was of the sons of the giant.” Gob. In the parallel passage (I Chronicles 20:4)
this place is called
unimportant spot, except as being the site of this battle, and the scribes,
knowing nothing about it, made corrections at their fancy. Sibbechai the
Hushathite. The name is spelled in the same way in I Chronicles 11:29
and 20:4, but in the list of the mighties he is called Mebunnai (ch. 23:27).
In I Chronicles 27:11 we find that he had the command of the
eighth division of the army, consisting of twenty-four thousand men. He is
called “the Hushathite,” as being a descendant of Hushah, of the family of
Hebrew, of the Raphah: He is called Sippai in I Chronicles 20:4.
19 “And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where
Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother
of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s
20 And there was yet a battle in
stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six
toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.”
Ver. 19. — Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, a Beth-lehemite, slew
Goliath the Gittite. The words “the brother of” are inserted by the
Authorized Version in order to bring this place into verbal agreement with
I Chronicles 20:5, where we read that “Elhanan the son of Jair slew
Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite.” The Jewish Targum had the same
reading as that still found in the text, but regards Elhanan, “God is
gracious,” as another name for David, and, instead of Jair or Jaare, reads
Jesse. Its translation is as follows: “And David the son of Jesse, the weaver
of veils for the sanctuary, who was of
Possibly the Authorized Version is right in concluding that the present text
is a corruption of that in I Chronicles 20:5. For, first, the repetition of
oregim, “weavers,” is suspicious, the Hebrew being, not “weaver’s beam,”
but the plural “weavers’ beam,” menor oregim. Next, Jaare is a
transposition of the letters of Jair (in the Hebrew) made probably in order
that the compound Jaare-oregim may obey the rules of Hebrew grammar.
More important is it to notice that Lahmi is part of the word
“Bethlehemite” (Hebrew, Beth-hallahmi), and might thus easily suggest to
the eye of a scribe the completion of so well known a word. We must add
that among the thirty Gibborim is “Elhanan the son of Dodo of
rank among the heroes, but if the name Jair is right, the Elhanan there
spoken of is not the person who slew Lahmi.
when he defied
brother of David slew him.” Jonathan. He was brother to the subtle
Jonadab who helped Amnon on his way to ruin. The spelling of the father’s
name shows how little importance we can place on the Hebrew text in the matter
of names. He is called here in the Hebrew Shimei, which the Massorites have
changed into Shimeah. In ch. 13:3 we have Shimeah, in I Samuel 16:9
Shammah, and in I Chronicles 2:13 Shimma.
four were born to the giant in
David, and by the hand of his servants.” These four were born to the giant;
Hebrew, were born to the Raphah; that is, belonged to the race of the Rephaim,
who seem to have settled in
of men. (For their antiquity, see Genesis 14:5.) By the hand of David. Not
necessarily in personal conflict, though the Hebrew in v. 17 would admit
of the translation that, with the aid of Abishai, David himself slew Ishbibenob.
But the glory of all that the Gibborim did belonged also to David their king.
The Difficulty of Establishing the
BY EVIL. The Philistines were a numerous people, spread over a
considerable area of country, bold, resolute, powerful, and therefore very
tenacious of their possessions and of their local influence. They did not
always wait to be subdued, but became active in their assaults on the
kingdom ordained of God. As compared with them, the Israelites were not
so hardy, so desperate in fighting, and so strongly influenced by the
thought of ancient pre-eminence. It is not surprising that the conflict should
extend through long and weary years. And is there not some resemblance
here to modern facts? The earth is preoccupied by forces of evil —
numerous, strong, tenacious. (We are dealing with “spiritual wickedness
in high places” – Ephesians 6:12 – CY – 2018) The power of sin has laid
hold of every form of human activity, and has entered into all the public and
private ramifications of life. Our preachers at home and missionaries abroad
have to face evils hoary with age, and yet strong with the vigor of youth.
Nothing is more conspicuous to Christian workers than the terrible grip
with which sin holds the human soul to prevent the enthronement there of
the King of righteousness.
WORK WE HAVE TO DO. David’s people had not been as true to God
as was required of
and much of this imperfection of character was an inheritance from the
generations which had also failed to fulfill the moral conditions of conquest
as laid down by the great lawgiver (Deuteronomy 28:1, 7-10, 15, 25).
found many conquests unachieved. Failure in moral character ensured to
posterity an inheritance of difficulty and sorrow. The work which a
thoroughly righteous people could have accomplished remains unfinished,
with the additional difficulties created by unfaithfulness. Unfortunately, the
Christian Church has too closely
followed the example of ancient
There has been, in ages past, sometimes a deviation from the principles laid
down by Christ for the casting out of sin and the subjugation of the world
to Himself, and sometimes a very inefficient application of His instructions.
Instead of pure truth, love, faith, holiness of life, prayer, and unity of spirit,
there has been a blending of the truth with human errors, and a
manifestation of a worldly, time serving spirit. This age inherits not only
the honor of subduing the world to Christ, but the results of the imperfect
work done in days gone by. Our own spirit is not so pure and fit as it
otherwise would have been; unfinished undertakings are on hand, and the
prejudice created by the sins and errors of the Church has to be overcome
in addition to the ordinary power of sin.
EVIL WHICH, BESIDES BEING ACTIVE CAUSES, TEND ALSO
INDIRECTLY TO EMBARRASS THOSE WHO OPPOSE THEM.
Philistine giants not only had stout arms wherewith to slay, but their
proportions, striking on the senses of men, had the effect of rendering the
existing means of resistance and attack less easily available. Giant forms
excite fear and awaken self-distrust. The indirect influence on good men of
great evils is helpful to the perpetuation of those evils. The monstrous
forms of idolatry in vast populations, the magnitude of the influence of
Mohammed, the terrible hold of intemperance on multitudes, and the
greatness of evil as a whole in the world, when looked at with ordinary
eyes, at once bring on a temporary paralysis of energy. Many a brave heart
faints in contemplation of the dreadful forms of evil that afflict the world.
The Apostle Paul felt this when he reminded his friends to “put on the
whole armor of God” (<490611>Ephesians 6:11-13), seeing that they had to
wrestle with “principalities and powers.”
INJURIOUSLY AFFECTS THE PROGRESS OF THEIR
There was a day when David, fresh, young, pure, full of faith and courage,
without after thoughts concerning himself, could calmly face and slay a
giant (I Samuel 17:39-47). But David, passing the meridian of life,
sensible of failing powers, and moreover not free from the remembrance of
sad departures from his God, could not perform exploits as of old, and was
even in need of succour from another in the field. A true picture is this of
many in the Christian warfare. They do not retain all the old vigor. The
freshness and power of godliness fail. Were every Christian to grow in
spiritual strength from first to last, were the spiritual forces in our religious
life to gain momentum the longer we live, and none to become weak, what
a mighty army would the Church become! The difficulty of subduing the
world to Christ lies very much in the variability of spiritual strength in
those who form the Church. Many are feeble who ought to be strong.
The friends of David were wise in wishing him not to go out to battle. The
negative effect of his weakness would be so much positive advantage to
the Philistines. If he could no longer positively inspire by his courage and
exploits, that very circumstance would tell against the cause he and they
had at heart. Leaders have great power by virtue of their position; and
when, by any failure of character, or wisdom, or knowledge, any inaptitude
for the special circumstances of the time, they dishearten those who expect
example and guidance, they really, by such negation of good, add to the
difficulties of the situation, and unwittingly strengthen the position of evil
in the world. It would form an instructive study to trace in history the
connection of the slow progress of Christianity with the negative influence
of its leaders.
Giants: a Sermon to Young People
(vs. 15-22; I Chronicles 20:4-8)
“As for these
four, they were born to the giant (Ha-rapha) in
by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants” (v. 22). Of the age
before the Flood it is said, “In those days were the giants [Nephilim, men
of lofty stature and ferocious character] upon the earth” (Genesis 6:4;
Numbers 13:32- 33). At a subsequent period there was a like formidable race
called Rephaim (Genesis 14:5; 15:20), to which belonged the Emim, the Zuzim
(Zamzummim), and the Anakim (Deuteronomy 2:10, 11, 20, 21; 9:2). One of
this race, of extraordinary stature, was Og, King of Bashan (ibid. ch. 3:10;
Joshua 12:4). Others, more recently, dwelt among the Philistines (Joshua 11:12),
like Goliath (I Samuel 17:4-11) and the four here mentioned, who were
either sons of a celebrated giant (the Rapha) or descendants of the original
founder of the tribe. They were all idolaters and formidable opponents of
secular progressives who are against God and godly things, doers of “spiritual
wickedness in high places;” [Ephesians 6:12] and are promoters of THE LIE
that will lead to the coming of the “antichrist” of Satan himself! Thankfully,
as Bible Believing Christians we are “not ignorant of his devices!”
(II Corinthians 2:11 – CY - 2018). I do not mean such ogres as
children read of in story books; or such harmless persons of exceptional
height as are sometimes seen; or even such as appear in any bodily form;
but, nevertheless, real, powerful, and terrible giants, aptly represented by
“these four” slain by David and his heroes.
Ø An ancient family; as old as sin, and came into the world with it. It
survived the Deluge; spread, among the dispersed nations, over all the
earth; had one of its principal settlements in
conflicts and changes of mankind, HAS CONTINUED TO THIS DAY!
Ø An ungodly family. None of its members believe in the living and true
God or obey His commandments; yet they have many gods (I Samuel
Ø A selfish family. They all seek their own, and often contend against one
Ø A numerous, mighty, and destructive family. They have their walled
cities and strongholds, defy the armies of the living God (v. 21), and
sometimes terrify them (I Samuel 17:1-11) by their imposing
appearance and evil doings (Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:10-18). What
is this giant Family? You have doubtless already discovered that it consists
of (men and their – CY – 2018) sins, vices, and wickedness of all kinds.
them (Matthew 15:19; Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-9).
But notice especially these four:
Ø Pride, or undue self esteem and contempt of other persons (vs. 16-17).
The name Ishbi-benob signifies “my dwelling is on the height;” and
was possibly given to him because he had his castle on a lofty,
inaccessible rock. The brazen head of his lance was eight pounds in
weight; and, arrayed in new armor, he resolved to kill David, and
nearly succeeded; but was himself smitten down by the aid of Abishai.
o contemptuous, and
It has overthrown many mighty men; and is an ungodly, selfish, and
most dangerous adversary. “Be not proud’” (ch. 22:28; Jeremiah
13:15; Obadiah 1:3-4; James 4:6).
Ø Falsehood, or deceit (I Samuel 21:1-8). “There was again a battle
Philistines at Gob [
[I Chronicles 27:11] slew Saph [Sippai].” This is a double-faced giant;
exceedingly crafty, mean, and mischievous. “Lying lips are abomination
to the Lord” (Proverbs 12:22; Revelation 21:8).
Ø Hatred, or ill will; and (in various forms) envy, revenge, anger, and
strife. “Elhanan, the son of Jaare-oregim [Jair] the Bethlehemite
[ch. 23:24] slew Goliath the Gittite” — possibly a son of the giant
whom David slew, and of the same name; or (more probably, as in
Chronicles), “Lahmi the brother of Goliath, the shaft of whose
spear was like a weaver’s beam.” He is a powerful, fierce, and
obstinate foe; and only by the strength which God gives [Elhanan]
can he be overthrown.
Ø Dishonesty; “a man of stature [measure or length] that had on each
hand six fingers, and on each foot six toes, four and twenty in number”
etc.; slain by Jonathan, David’s nephew.
Dishonesty has a powerful grasp; covets, seizes, and steals the possessions
of others, in defiance of right and justice. There are many other giants,
o Superstition, and
onslaught upon ourselves and others. IF WE DO NOT CONQUER
THEM, they will conquer us. (One might say, it is a form of self-defense –
however in a day of “conceal and carry” – to such a practice “giants and
those mentioned in the first paragraph of this section, are opposed!
And we can conquer them only by:
Ø Faithfully following “the Captain of our salvation;” obeying His
commands, and depending on His might. (Hebrews 2:10)
Ø Incessant vigilance and firm resistance.
Ø Ever renewed and courageous effort.
Ø Confident assurance of victory, inspired by many promises, the presence
of our Divine Leader, and the success which has been already achieved.
“These conflicts of David’s servants are typical of the spiritual combats
of Christ’s soldiers with the family of the evil one” (Wordsworth).
“Fight the good fight of faith” (I Timothy 6:12; I Samuel 13:1-7;
14:1-15). “Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ!”
(II Timothy 2:5)
Giant Killers (vs. 16-22)
These huge monsters were dangerous enemies. To slay them was to do
valuable service to king and country. To assail them required much
courage. Those who killed any of them gained great renown; and their
names and deeds were recorded in the chronicles of the kingdom, and, as
to some of them, have found a place in the Book of books.
THAT NEED TO BE DESTROYED. We may name superstition, whether
pagan, papal, or protestant; infidelity; selfishness; pride; tyranny,
ecclesiastical or political; slavery; sensuality; intemperance; war;
mammon. Singly, or in partial union, they assail the subjects of Christ, and
oppose them in their endeavors to extend His kingdom. And behind lie the
devil and his angels, ever active and formidable (Ephesians 6:11-12).
ALL CHRIST’S SERVANTS.
Ø It is involved in their Christian calling. The new nature which is given
to them is instinctively hostile to Satan and his works. The endeavor to
serve God and benefit men necessarily brings them into conflict with these
powers of darkness. The attacks made on themselves compel them to fight
in self-defense (I Peter 5:8-9).
Ø They are supplied with arms and armor for the purpose.
Ø The enslaved and degraded condition to which these giant evils have
reduced their victims appeals to and stimulates them.
Ø Their own happy condition under the reign of Christ supplies them with
a powerful motive.
Ø Regard for Him impels and strengthens them. Loyalty, desire for His
glory, the hope of His approval, and of the honors and rewards He
Ø Who are the heroes? Not those who engage these giants (nominally) as
a profession and for the sake of earthly rewards. But such as:
o renounce for themselves their service, which all who profess to
oppose them do not;
o show great zeal in contending against them;
o cheerfully expose themselves to hardship and peril in doing so,
displaying conspicuous courage and endurance. Those faithful in
times of persecution, confessors, martyrs. Those who bear the gospel
to savages, or encounter dangerous climates in seeking its extension.
Ø Their honors and rewards.
o In many cases, success; not, alas! in killing these giants — they are not
dead yet — but in preserving themselves, and rescuing others from
their power, and in diminishing their dominions.
o Enrolment in the Divine records. Many illustrious names are written in
human records; more have been overlooked; but all are in the “book
of remembrance written before” God (Malachi 3:16).
o Final promotion to honor, power, and blessedness (see II Timothy
4:7-8; and the promises made in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 to
“him that overcometh”).
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