Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
2 Samuel 21:1 (NIV)
During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
2 Samuel 21:1(MSG)
There was a famine in David’s time. It went on year after year after year—three years. David went to God seeking the reason. God said, “This is because there is blood on Saul and his house, from the time he massacred the Gibeonites.”
“There was famine in the days of David for three consecutive years; and David sought the presence (face) of the Lord [asking the reason]. The Lord replied, “It is because of Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” -AMPLIFIED
At the end of chapter 20 of 2 Samuel it appears that things are finally settling down for David. We close out the chapter with these words, “Joab was again commander of the whole army of Israel. Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; Adoniram over the work crews; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was clerk; Sheva was historian; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; Ira the Jairite was David’s chaplain.” -2 Samuel 20:23-26 (MSG)
We then find chapter 21 opening with our text for today. Right away we see that David is once again dealing with a problem. This time there has been a three year long famine. (My first thought is why did it take David three long years to finally come to the point of seeking the Lord’s face?) Something finally brought David to the point of desperation where he began to search for an answer and pursue God for a resolution.
God delivers to David His answer. “The famine is because of the guilt of Saul and his family, for they murdered the Gibeonites.” -2 Samuel 21:1 (TLB)
Always remember, our sin and disobedience have long term affects on those around us. Saul’s choices, while he was king, ended up having an affect on David and his reign. The affect, this time, turned out to be a famine; which actually affected the whole nation of Israel.
Once David found out what the issue was scripture tells us how he handled it, “So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons (descendants) of Israel but of the remnant (survivors) of the Amorites. The Israelites had sworn [an oath] to [spare] them, but Saul in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah had sought to strike down the Gibeonites). So David said to the Gibeonites, “What should I do for you? How can I make it good so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance (Israel)?” The Gibeonites said to him, “We will not accept silver or gold belonging to Saul or his household (descendants); nor is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” David said, “I will do for you whatever you say.” So they said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to exterminate us from remaining in any territory of Israel, let seven men [chosen] from his sons (descendants) be given to us and we will hang them before the Lord [that is, put them on display, impaled with broken legs and arms] in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen one of the Lord.” And the king said, “I will give them.”” -2 Samuel 21:2-6 (AMP)
First, he called the party that had been wronged. Second, he asked the wronged party what he could do to make things right. Third, he listened to them with an open mind and heart. Fourth, he made restitution.
Remember, it was not David’s sin that had caused this problem. BUT if he did not make things right Saul’s sin would have continued to affect not only him, but the whole nation of Israel. David agreed with the Gibeonites on what restitution should be. Scripture tells us that he handed over seven sons of Saul to the Gibeonites and they were hanged as compensation to the Gibeonites for what Saul had done to their people.
Many of us may struggle with this decision in our hearts and minds. Why would God expect David to do such a thing? Why did these people have to pay a price for a sin that they did not commit?
“David’s dealings with the Gibeonites, at its roots, is a matter of keeping covenants. Israel had made a covenant with the Gibeonites. Even though this covenant was 400 years old, it was still to be honored. Saul broke that covenant by trying to rid the land of them. No matter how good his intentions might have been, the covenant must be kept. The breaking of that covenant had serious consequences. It cost Saul and his sons their lives. It brought a famine on the land of Israel. There were other covenants involved as well. Much of what is described in our text looks like the fulfillment of God’s warnings for breaking the Mosaic Covenant in Deuteronomy 28-30.” -Bob Deffinbaugh (Promise Breakers and Promise Keepers)
David knew that somehow he had to make things right. He had to make restitution or atonement for Saul’s sin or the people would continue to suffer. He had to restore the covenant that had been made with the Gibeonites so long ago. (Even if it was a foolish covenant or promise; God still expected it to be fulfilled.)
This should be a warning to us all concerning the need of being careful about making promises; especially promises that we may not be able to keep. Hence why Jesus warned his followers, “Again, you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not make false vows, but you shall fulfill your vows to the Lord [as a religious duty].’ But I say to you, do not make an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God; or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you are not able to make a single hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’ [a firm yes or no]; anything more than that comes from the evil one.” -Matthew 5:33-37 (AMP)
Lord, you are a covenant keeping God and I know that this is what you expect from your children. Help me not to make promises that I cannot or will not keep. I am a representative of you and I need to be a man or woman of my word; just as you are. Help me, Lord, to be a promise keeper.