II Samuel 21

Sunday, October 25th, 2015



There are some things recorded in the Scriptures which we just don't fully understand. As we work our way through II Samuel, the passage we come to today is one of those things.

At the same time, we know the truth of Romans 15:4 ; and we know that it applies to II Samuel 21.

Romans 15:4 - For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

We also know that God is always right and never has respect of persons. He never treats people unfairly.

We note that -


II Samuel 21:1 a - Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year [i.e. for three successive years]. . . .

We note also that -


II Samuel 21:1 b - . . . And David inquired of the Lord.

When we lack wisdom, it is always good to ask the Lord for it.

James 1:5-8 - 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

Next, we note that -


II Samuel 21:1 c - . . . And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody [i.e. bloodthirsty ] house [implying Saul's bloodthirsty family], because he slew [i.e. he killed] the Gibeonites.

In the days of Joshua, Joshua made a promise to the Gibeonites. In his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah, but not in his zeal for the Lord, Saul had violated this promise.

For background on this, let's look at Joshua 9:1-21 -

Joshua 9:1-21 - (1) And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan [i.e. the west side of the Jordan River], in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon [i.e. all the kings from west of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea], the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard thereof [i.e. when all these kings of the nations between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai]; (2) That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord. [They were intent on destroying Israel before Israel destroyed them.] (3) And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, (4) They did work wilily [i.e. craftily], and went and made as if they had been ambassadors [i.e. as if they were a delegation representing a distant country], and took old sacks upon their asses [i.e. upon their donkeys], and wine bottles, old [i.e. worn out], and rent [i.e. torn], and bound up [i.e. mended or patched]; (5) And old shoes and clouted [i.e. old and patched sandals] upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy [They disguised themselves and pretended as if they were a delegation which had traveled a great distance to meet with Joshua when in reality they had only come a very short distance.]. (6) And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league [i.e. make a covenant, make a treaty] with us. [There is a lesson for us in this. Take note that things are not always exactly what they appear to be. Learn to check things out and to verify what you can. Be careful of making commitments without knowing all the facts.] (7) And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure [i.e. perhaps] ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league [i.e. how will we make a covenant, how will we make a treaty] with you? [Assuming that you are permitted to live among us, on what terms should we make a treaty with you?] (8) And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants [i.e. We'll be your slaves.]. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye? [i.e. where do you come from?] (9) And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants [i.e. your slaves] are come because of the name of the Lord thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, (10) And all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan [i.e. east of the Jordan River], to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth. [The Gibeonites told the leaders of Israel exactly what they wanted to hear. It sounds like some of our politicians, doesn't it? They made it sound like they really wanted to get to know the LORD because they had heard glowing reports of what He had done.] (11) Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals [i.e. provisions] with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants [i.e. We'll be your slaves.]: therefore now make ye a league [i.e. make a covenant, make a treaty] with us. (12) This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is mouldy: (13) And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent [i.e. they are torn]: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of [i.e. Our clothes and our shoes have become old because of] the very long journey [These statements were lies.]. (14) And the men [i.e. the leaders of Israel] took of their victuals [i.e. took some of the Gibeonites' provisions], and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. [Oh! Oh! Not consulting the Lord was a big mistake. We should always seek the Lord's direction in everything we do.] (15) And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league [i.e. made a covenant, made a treaty] with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. (16) And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league [i.e. made a covenant, made a treaty] with them, that they [i.e. the leaders of Israel] heard that they [i.e. the Gibeonites] were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them. (17) And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities [i.e. unto the cities of the Gibeonites] on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim. (18) And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured [i.e. grumbled, complained] against the princes. (19) But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. (20) This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them. (21) And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water [i.e. let them be wood cutters and water carriers] unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them.

Back to II Samuel 21 . We see that -


II Samuel 21:2-6 - (2) And the king [i.e. David] 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. [i.e. Saul violated the covenant the elders of Israel had made with the Gibeonites in the days of Joshua. Saul did this in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah but not in his zeal for the LORD

.]) (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? (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. (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, (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.

We should be careful not to assume that these seven were totally innocent of all wrongdoing in this matter of the Gibeonites. We do not know if they were involved at all in killing the Gibeonites or to what extent they may have been involved. Don't make the mistake of accusing God of unfairness. God is always fair and just. Although it seems harsh to us, we have no idea of how many of the Gibeonites Saul was responsible for murdering. It could have been a rather large massacre. These seven men may also have been deeply involved in the killing of the Gibeonites.

I remember something which occurred a long, long time ago when I was a youth pastor. It was way back in the mid-1960s. That would be about 50 years ago. My wife and I took our church teens on a bicycle hike. As I recall, we road about 8 or 9 miles to a park where we spent some time doing various things. When it came time to ride back to the church, we noted that my wife's bicycle tire was low on air, but not so low that it couldn't be ridden. However, it would be too hard for her to ride it. So, I asked one of the boys if he would trade bikes with her and ride her bike. I learned something interesting later on. Little did I know at the time, but the boy I asked to ride her bike just happened to be the same one who had let some of the air out of her tire. In my ignorance, God led me to select the very person who caused the problem.

It would not be shocking to learn that the seven would turn out to have been involved in some way in this murdering of some of the Gibeonites. Don't bet against this possibility, but recognize that we really don't know why these seven were chosen to be hanged. But do note that God approved of this action and ended the famine as a result.

Galatians 6:7 - Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Proverbs 26:27 - Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.

We see that -


II Samuel 21:7 - 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 see next that -


II Samuel 21:8 - But the king took the two sons of Rizpah [i.e. she was Saul's concubine] the daughter of Aiah, whom she [i.e. Rizpah] bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth [i.e. not the same Mephibosheth who was the son of Jonathan in verse 7]; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.

Well, here's another difficulty. According to II Samuel 6:23 , Michal died childless; so, how can we explain the five sons of Michal when Michal died without having any children?

Some have suggested that this verse, which reads five sons of Michal, should read five sons of Merab. Merab was the wife of Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; so, this would make sense. However, the text clearly says five sons of Michal. How can this be?

Consider that Michal may have raised Merab's five sons. The text says, whom she brought up for Adriel. Did Merab, Michal's sister and Adriel's wife, die or become incapacitated in some way with the result that Michal stepped in and raised the children for Adriel? It seems to me that this would be a better explanation than stating that the text is in error and should read Merab rather than Michal.

What do we know about Merab and Michal from the Bible?

I Samuel 14:49 - Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchishua: and the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal.

Saul promised his older daughter, Merab, to David to be David's wife.

I Samuel 18:17 - And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD'S battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.

But, Saul reneged on the promise he made to David and gave Merab to someone else, to Adriel the Meholathite.

I Samuel 18:19 - But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul's daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife.

So, Saul determined to give Michal, his younger daughter to David as David's wife.

I Samuel 18:20 - And Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. 21 And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain [i.e. in one of the two].

I Samuel 18:27 - Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale [i.e. in full number, in full count, meaning all two hundred of them] to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.

Again, after Saul had given his daughter Michal to David as his wife, while David was fleeing for his life, Saul gave Michal to someone else.

I Samuel 25:42-44 - 42 And Abigail . . . went after the messengers of David, and became his wife. 43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives. 44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.

After Saul's death, Abner [i.e. Saul's uncle] made Ishbosheth, Saul's son, king of Israel. A few years later, Abner defected to David; and David demanded that Abner return Michal to him as part of the deal.

II Samuel 3:12-16 - 12 And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, Whose is the land? saying also, Make thy league [i.e. Make your covenant, Make an agreement] with me, and, behold, my hand shall be with thee, to bring about all Israel unto thee. 13 And he said, Well; I will make a league with thee [i.e. I will make a covenant with you, I will make an agreement with you]: but one thing I require of thee [i.e. there is one stipulation for my making this agreement with you], that is, Thou shalt not see my face, except thou first bring Michal Saul's daughter, when thou comest to see my face. 14 And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul's son, saying, Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines. 15 And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish. 16 And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner unto him, Go, return. And he returned.

We jump ahead to the time when the ark of the covenant was brought into Jerusalem.

II Samuel 6:16 - And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

II Samuel 6:20-23 - 20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! [i.e. David had taken off his royal robes and dressed like other people.] 21 And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. 22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour. 23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death. [This seems to be very definitely stating that she died childless.]

Back to II Samuel 21:9

II Samuel 21:9 - And he [i.e. David] delivered them [i.e. these seven men] 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.

There is a lesson to be learned from this episode. We must not spare anything in our effort to be right with the Lord. His mercy may well be withheld from us until we give over everything.

We must confess and forsake sin.

I John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Proverbs 28:13 - He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

We must also stop all involvement in sin.

Colossians 3:5-11 - (5) Mortify [i.e. put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth [By members, Paul means your parts. These are members or parts which characterized believers' lives prior to their salvation but are no longer to characterize them. These members refer to sins which had characterized the lives of the Colossian believers before they were saved.]; fornication [i.e. sexual immorality], uncleanness [i.e. impurity], inordinate affection [i.e. passion, lust], evil concupiscence [i.e. evil desire], and covetousness [i.e. greed], which is idolatry: (6) For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience [i.e. those who are disobedient to the gospel message]: (7) In the which ye also walked some time [i.e. in which you formerly conducted your lives], when ye lived in them. (8) But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication [i.e. filthy language] out of your mouth. (9) Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; (10) And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (11) Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Back to II Samuel 21 Furthermore, we see that -


II Samuel 21:10-14 a - (10) And Rizpah [i.e. Saul's concubine - remember that according to verse 2, two of those hanged, Armoni and Mephibosheth, were Rizpah's sons] . . . Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her [i.e. for herself] upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven [i.e. until it rained on their dead bodies], and suffered [i.e. allowed, permitted] neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night. [The seven were left hanging where they had been hanged until it rained. The rain apparently indicated that the curse was ended and the corpses could be taken down and buried.] (11) And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done. (12) And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabeshgilead, 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. (14a) 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. . . .

We also see that -


II Samuel 21:14 b - . . . And after that God was intreated for the land.

It indicates that God approved of the restitution that was made to the Gibeonites in the hanging of these seven sons or grandsons of Saul.

Finally, we see that -


II Samuel 21:15-22 - (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 [i.e. grew faint, became exhausted]. (16) And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass [i.e. his spearhead weighed about 7 1/2 pounds] in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David. (17) But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him [i.e. helped David, came to David's aid], and smote [i.e. struck] the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel. (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. (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. (21) And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea the brother of David slew him. (22) These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

Just as there seemed to be no rest in fighting the enemies of God, there is no furlough in the fight of faith. We will always have giants to face in our spiritual growth.


What conclusions can we draw from this episode in II Samuel 21 ?

1. The Lord had intervened on behalf of the Gibeonites - v. 1

2. God approved what was done, thus, indicating His will in the matter - v. 14

3. Although we don't understand it entirely, we recognize that there may very well be some details which have not been revealed in the Scripture which would clarify the matter for us.

So, why did God include this portion of Scripture in the Bible?

We can learn a number of lessons from this passage:

1. Troubles do not come in a haphazard manner. If all of a sudden you are plagued with troubles, examine your life. The Lord may be trying to tell you something. On the other hand, remember that Job, who experienced all kinds of troubles, was only being tested and was not guilty of sin; but God allowed this testing.

2. David did not lean unto his own understanding. He took the matter to the Lord in prayer, even if it did take him three years to do it.

Proverbs 3:5-6 - (5) Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

3. Sin must be put right, sometimes even by succeeding generations of people. What does this say about the abortion problem in our country and also throughout the world?

4. We must remove the sinful thing(s) from our lives.

5. Let's not make the Lord chasten us for three years before we get matters straightened out with Him.

6. God's waiting many years demonstrates His longsuffering.

7. We must desire to do the will of God - not just to know it.

8. God expects us to keep commitments we have made.