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

the Gibeonites.

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 Israel, but require that seven of Saul’s family should be

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

Hebron, he would be twelve and a half years of age. The famine lasted

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 Israel, because manifestly it

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

Providence, and to justify it the sin must be still fresh in the national

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 Israel stoned Achan, his sons and his daughters,

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 Gibeon to pray in the sanctuary, and consult God by

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:

 

  • THE NATURE OF TRUE WORSHIP. It is seeking the face of God, to

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:

 

  • THE POSSIBILITY AND WARRANT OF SUCH WORSHIP. There

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;

John 14:8-9).

 

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”

(Matthew 5:8).

 

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”

(Ephesians 2:18).

 

  • THE NECESSITY OF SUCH WORSHIP. We must seek God’s face

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

America and throughout the world if we would only repent and confess!

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)

 

  • GODLY MEN ARE DISTINGUISHED BY SUCH WORSHIP.

“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;

63:1-2).

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

upon them.

 

  • SUCH WORSHIP IS FRUITFUL OF BLESSING. It is never in vain

(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

Him:

 

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”

(Revelation 6:16).

 

2 “And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the

Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of

the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and

Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and

Judah.)”   Saul sought to slay them in his zeal. We gather from various

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 Palestine, in accordance with

Deuteronomy 7:2, and had especially massacred a large number of

Gibeonites, in violation of the covenant made with them by Joshua and all

Israel (Joshua 9:3, 15-27). And as he would thus acquire “fields and

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 of Israel and

Judah.” When his attempt was made is not certainly known; possibly soon

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 Gibeon); more

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

actions.

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

useful service.

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

Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you.”

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 Israel. The singular is used at the beginning of their

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 Israel; that is, “We refuse a money

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 Israel.”

 

 

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 Israel,”  The man that consumed us, etc. The strong

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.

 

  • A MOTHER’S LOVE IS MUCH TRIED. Not often as Rizpah’s was;

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.

 

  • IT OCCASIONS HER MUCH SORROW. Love, in this world, always

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.

 

  • IT IS UTTERLY UNSELFISH. She loves because it is her nature —

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”

(Bishop Hall).

 

  • IT IS MOST SELF-DENYING. Prompting to and sustaining in

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.

 

  • IT IS MOST PERSISTENT. Through six months Rizpah continued

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.”

(Wordsworth.)

 

  • IT IS SOMETIMES BROUGHT INTO NOTICE AND HONORED.

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

sepulchre of Kish his (Saul’s) father.” Thus a mother’s love, in this case,

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.

 

  • In conclusion:

 

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”

(Proverbs 23:22).

 

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”

(Proverbs 10:1).

 

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 Kish his father:

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 Kish, their common ancestor. But whether the

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

Benjamin.

 

 

A Story of Deferred Retribution (vs. 1-14)

 

  • PROVIDENTIAL CALLS TO THE CONSIDERATION OF

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.”

(Luke 16:25)

 

  • THE CONNECTION BETWEEN MORAL AND PHYSICAL EVIL.

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 Sodom should fall under fire,

Ø      that Pharaoh should be swept into the sea,

Ø      that Jerusalem should be trodden down,

 

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.

 

  • THE DUTY OF SEARCHING OUT THE MORAL ELEMENTS

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

our guidance.

 

  • MISSING CLUES TO THE SOLUTION OF DIFFICULTIES. There

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.

 

  • GOD HAS IN RESERVE AGENCIES FOR BRINGING THE FACT

OF SIN STRAIGHT HOME TO THE CONSCIENCE. The famine

aroused conscience. The men of Gibeon were God’s agents in bringing all

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

left Hebron to be king over the entire people, will explain why the

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).

 

  • THE PRINCIPLE OF RETRIBUTION IN HUMAN AFFAIRS. The

charge of the Gibeonites against the house of Saul was that he, contrary to

the solemn compact with Israel, had cruelly slain their countrymen, and the

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.

 

  • THE DUE MAINTENANCE OF NATIONAL HONOR. The

honor of Israel was at stake in the deed of Saul. Kings compromise the

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.

 

  • THE SACREDNESS OF PROMISES MADE BY RELIGIOUS

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.

 

  • THE CONFLICTING OF PUBLIC OBLIGATIONS WITH

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.

 

  • THE HONOR DUE TO MORTAL REMAINS. The conduct of

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

Israel, with the expiation of the sins that occasioned them” – ch. 24);  This

famine took place after Mephibosheth was brought to Jerusalem (v. 7; ch. 9.);

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:

 

  • CALLING FOR SPECIAL INQUIRY. “And David sought the face of

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).

 

  • LEADING TO UNEXPECTED DISCOVERY. “And Jehovah said

(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 Gibeon), for more than

four hundred years dwelling peaceably among “the children of Israel and

Judah(Joshua 9:17; here, ch. 4:3), professing the same faith, and

guilty of no offence; many of them being ruthlessly slain, others escaping

by flight.

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

possessions. It is said that he did this in his zeal for Israel and Judah, and

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

wrath.

 

“He turneth a fruitful land into a salt marsh,

Because of the wickedness of them that dwell therein.”

(Psalm 107:34.)

 

  • INVOLVING IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES; not merely that sin and

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

representative.

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 United States

of America!  For starters – abortion and anti-capital punishment

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)

 

  • EVOKING RECOGNIZED OBLIGATION. “And the king called the

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.

 

  • REQUIRING ADEQUATE SATISFACTION. (vs. 7-9.) The

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.).

 

  • AFFORDING SALUTARY INSTRUCTION (whether the victims be

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”

(Kirkpatrick);

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

true religion” (Chandler).

 

  • FOLLOWED BY MERCIFUL DELIVERANCE. “And after that

[the expiation] God was entreated for the land” (v. 14).

 

Ø      “Long forgotten sin had been brought to mind and acknowledged

and expiated;

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

impunity;

Ø      maternal fondness had been touchingly displayed; (Rizpah

vs. 10-11)

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 Israel, or (as it was believed)

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:

 

  • HER SPECIAL DESIRE AND AIM; for it was more than an instinct of

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!

 

  • HER EXTRAORDINARY DEVOTION; as it appears in:

 

Ø      Her unquenchable attachment. Others might despise them as criminals,

but she could only regard them and cling to them as children (Song of

Solomon 8:7).

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”

(Carpenter).

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

Holy Writ’).

 

  • HER EFFECTUAL ENDEAVOR. At length (how long is not

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

general discouragement.

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 Israel was to subdue and hold

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. Israel all along had

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

opposing forces to the kingdom of Christ, and so permanently establishing

a reign of righteousness in the earth, may be indicated as follows.

 

15 “Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David

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 Israel’s worthies. The source of the narratives

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

absence from Palestine of its authors, and their having to depend entirely

upon such knowledge of their language as survived at Alexandria, is more

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 Israel.”  The men of David sware unto him. David’s

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 of Israel. The lamp in the dwelling was the proof that

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 Israel was advancing to

freedom and empire. His death would have plunged the nation back into

weakness and probable ruin.

 

 

The Lamp of Israel (v. 17)

 

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:

 

  • KINDLED BY THE GRACIOUS HAND OF GOD, the true Glory of

Israel, the Father of lights, the Fountain of life and light (Psalm 36:9).

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 Israel.” Whatever his gifts, his graces, his

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;

Galatians 1:24).

 

  • CONDUCTIVE TO THE REAL WELFARE OF MEN. “Neither do

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.

 

  • EXPOSED TO IMMINENT DANGER OF EXTINCTION. The light

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).

 

  • WORTHY OF BEING HIGHLY ESTEEMED, carefully sustained,

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.

(John 12:26-28).

 

 

The Unquenchable Light (v. 17)

 

“That thou quench not the light of Israel.” “The men of David” who thus

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.

 

  • HE IS THE LIGHT OF MEN. Intended ultimately to “lighten every

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.

Ø      Joy.

o        In knowledge and conscious safety are:

§         peace,

§         happiness and

§         hope;

o        in ignorance,

§         doubt,

§         perplexity, and

§         unhappiness.

 

  • HIS LIGHT CANNOT BE QUENCHED.

 

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.

 

Then:

 

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.”

Matthew 5:16)

 

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 Gezer, and the Septuagint has Gath. It was probably some

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

Judah, in I Chronicles 4:4. Saph, which was of the sons of the giant;

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

beam.  20 And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great

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 Bethlehem, slew Goliath the Gittite.”

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

Bethlehem.” Whoever slew Goliath’s brother would certainly attain to high

rank among the heroes, but if the name Jair is right, the Elhanan there

spoken of is not the person who slew Lahmi.

 

21 “And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimeah the

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.

 

22 “These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of

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 Gath in large numbers, and to have been a fine race

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 Kingdom of God in the World

(vs. 15-22)

 

  • THERE IS A WIDESPREAD AND TENACIOUS PREOCCUPATION

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.

 

  • THERE ARE MANY IMPERFECTIONS INHERITED WITH THE

WORK WE HAVE TO DO. David’s people had not been as true to God

as was required of Israel by the great Law laid down for their guidance;

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).

Because Israel of the past had not been fully faithful, Israel of David’s age

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 Israel.

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.

 

  • THERE ARE OCCASIONALLY PRESENT GIANT FORMS OF

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.”

 

  • THE VARIABLE CHARACTER OF PROFESSING CHRISTIANS

INJURIOUSLY AFFECTS THE PROGRESS OF THEIR ENTERPRISE.

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 NEGATIVE INFLUENCE OF LEADERS IS WIDESPREAD.

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 Gath, and fell

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

Israel. And there are giants among us now. (They are the violent, anarchistic,

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. 

 

  • THEY BELONG TO ONE FAMILY. It is:

 

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 Canaan; and, amidst all the

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

17:43).

Ø      A selfish family. They all seek their own, and often contend against one

another.

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.

 

  • THEY ARE KNOWN BY VARIOUS NAMES. Here are long lists of

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.

Pride is:

o        haughty,

o        self-confident,

o        contemptuous, and

o        presumptuous.

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

with the Philistines at Gob [Gezer]: then Sibbechai the Hushathite

[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,

such as:

 

o       Ignorance,

o       Sloth,

o       Intemperance,

o       Impurity,

o       Profanity,

o       Infidelity,

o       Superstition, and

o       Idolatry.

 

  • THEY MUST BE FOUGHT AGAINST AND OVERCOME; in their

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.

 

  • SOME GIANT FOES OF THE DIVINE KING AND KINGDOM

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).

 

  • TO BATTLE AGAINST THESE MONSTERS IS THE DUTY OF

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.

(Ephesians 6:11-17.)

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

bestows.

 

  • HEROES IN THE FIGHT ATTAIN TO DISTINCTION AND

REWARD.

 

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).

 

 

"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."

 

This material can be found at:

http://www.adultbibleclass.com

 

If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.