2 Samuel 21

Vs. 1-9.

The very first thing we see here is that Israel had failed to keep a vow. it was a vow to the Gibeonites made hundreds of years before, Josh. 9:23.

1. 3 years famine... The first year of drought would not be cause for alarm. The second year would be cause for concern. The third year is alarm. When a problem persists, it needs to be examined. Is something on our part bringing it about?

David was wise enough to examine his life and his nation's life when things did not go right. We are to do the same when things don't go right.
Now, adversity is not always God chastening His people, but it is always a call for self-examination as David did here.

2. Turning from the Lord always results in a famine. Whether it is braking vows or just putting God on the back shelf of our lives and priorities, the result is always the same: the hand of God.

3. Notice what the hand of God did in this case. He did not send a plague or army against David. Rather, the Lord only withheld His hand of plenty.

4. David asks God. The Lord would have answered David sooner, but he just now gets around to checking with the Lord. God tells him that Saul had shed the Gibeonite's blood for no reason. They had not rebelled or fought against Israel in any way.

5. the vow was made hundreds of years previously, but not by David. Nor was David the one who broke it, but David pays the price for Israel not keeping the vow.

The Lord has no statute of limitations. He has a long memory, and the sins which intentionally remain in our lives will catch up in our family.

Our sins will neither be hidden from God nor forgotten by God. We cannot hide behind the barn from the Lord and it will be revealed in the following generations if we do not deal with it.

6. It had been a rash vow that was against the word of God; it was made without checking with the Lord. It was a vow that was not to Israel's benefit, and the Gibeonites had deceived Israel to make the vow. But it was still a vow, Ec 5:4.

7. Gibeon did not break the vow. They had not rebelled from under the hand of slavery, servitude. v. 6 gives s tan indication as to why God required Israel to be faithful to the vow. In fact, He judged Israel for not keeping the vow.

v. 6 indicates that they had converted to the God of Israel. They had submitted completely to the Lord, and they now served the Lord. If they had broken their vow, that would have been a different story, but Gibeon was now faithful to the law of God. More faithful, in fact, than was Israel.

Which leads us to a very important point:

When did Saul move against the Gibeonites?
At what point in David's reign did the famine take place.

Answers to these questions are speculation, but we do know that during the many years between Saul's move to destroy the Gibeonites by murder, v. 1, and the judgment of God upon David, the Gibeonites made no effort to revolt or take matters into their own hands.

The Gibeonites, by human measure, had every right to seek vengeance for the murders, but they did not; the left the vengeance in the hands of the Lord.

When are matters to be taken into one's hands? Many people claim to have the answer, but I must admit that I do not. I do believe that we will know what to do when the time comes.

In God's good time, He settled the score.

8. The violation of the promise, vow, was done in Saul's zeal to please the people, v. 2. It doesn't matter how zealous or sincere a person might be even for God, if they are acting contrary to the word of God then there is a famine coming.

Zeal does not make up for disobedience.

9. Notice who Saul sinned against: not the Gibeonites, but the Lord. But it still had to be made right with the Gibeonites before the Lord would forgive the sin.

We take our relationship with others far too lightly.

10. notice God's reward for their patient, Christian attitude, v. 3: the Lord gives the Gibeonites their hearts desire.

11. vs. 4-6. the request is according to the law, blood for blood, Num 25:4; 35:31; Ps 49:6, 7.

A. Exo 21:26, permitted them to request their freedom, but they didn't. They were more interested justice than in freedom.

B. Material possessions are vastly over valued. Silver, Gold and worldly wealth will not purchase atonement. Only blood will purchase atonement.

C. obviously, v. 6, their desire was for justice, not vengeance. before the Lord.

Notice, David would not kill Joab for his shedding blood outside of war, but he warned Solomon that he would have to shed Joab's blood because of the blood-guiltness of Joab. If he did not shed Joab's blood, it would be required of his kingdom.

12. the identity of the boys. The two sons of Saul's concubine and five of his grandchildren.

In 1 Sam 18:19, Saul broke a vow to David over Merab Saul's daughter. Now even that broken vow comes back to be visited upon his children: the five sons born to Adriel the husband of Merab are put to death. Evidently, Michal, Saul's daughter and David's wife raised these sons for her sister, Merab. Michal died childless according to the word's of David when she mocked him as he brought the ark of God into Jerusalem.

Again, there is no statutes of limitations with the Lord.

13. this was a public execution. It was a public crime with public results: nationwide famine. It also would cause people to fear to not keep their vows.

14. "Saul as a person did it, why should the whole nation pay the price?
The obvious answer is that the people of the nation carried out his orders against Gibeonites.

I realize that this now starts to get confusing, but I do think we have a clear teaching concerning our military. I realize it would be a very serious crime in the military, but the men should refuse to carry out orders which obviously go against the word of God.

15. the boys become a curse for Saul's sin. 7 is the number of perfection.

Christ becomes the curse for our sins. Remember, we are dealing with an eternal God, eternal payment, eternal curse, ect. He is not bound by time. Here the 7 became a curse "after the fact" of the sin. Christ becomes a curse for us "before the fact" of our sin. Same difference to the eternal God.


We as parents can rest assured not only will our children inherit our strong and good points, but they will also inherit our weaknesses and sins. Of course, Christ hung on the tree for our sins, but here is still the famine to face if we will not face up to the "violation of the oath" we took with Him (Lord Jesus Christ).

God's people have forgotten what it is to keep a vow.

Not only do we need ot ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us unkept vows in our lives, but also look for unkept vows in our parents and in our church. I believe that we can trace the politician's unkept vows to the root of Christian's not keeping their word. Society in general only reflects, or I should say magnifies, what is taking place in the church.

It is vain to expect the mercy of God unless we confess and hang our sins up before Him.

The law of God is satisfied, and the rain sent. And through Christ the sin marked up against us, God's justice is satisfied and there is no reason to have to live in the land of famine. We only live there because we fail to do what David did in v. 1: seek God's face and deal with the sin He reveals. God is entreated for us because of Jesus Christ. He sees that sacrifice has been made

1. Keep our vows.

2. Examine ourselves often. Be alert for the slightest hint of "famine".

Vv 10-14

To me, this is one of the saddest stories in Scripture.

The men were not only hanged, but were left hanging until the Lord showed that He accepted their sacrifice, until water dropped upon them out of heaven... and the curse was over.

Rizpah watched over the bodies of her boys. She did not protest the sentence of the boys hanging for their dad's sins, nor did she rebel against the sentence.

Her care for her two boys shows that the boys were not bad boys. These boys were probably young men, maybe as old as 30. These boys were no doubt her security in her old age, but they had to die. They were good, but they had to suffer for their dad's evil.

She not only testified to the world that her boys were good, but she testified that she loved them as she watched over them to keep the birds of prey off their bodies.

Modern day mother's need to watch over their children to keep the dirty birds off. Love keeps the dirty birds away; love does not allow the children to be picked to death by the birds.

Razpah's actions caused David to honour the dead bodies of Saul and Jonathan. David moves their bodies to their home land.

The curse is lifted, rain comes and God is entreated for the land. I think a very important point here is that the land itself suffers for man's sin, Rom 8:17ff

Ro 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

We have the hope that one day, through the sacrifice of Christ, the whole earth will be set free from the curse of sin which Adam placed it under.

As I meditated on this passage, I thought of what Bro McCurry said in his message at the ACUC. He told of seeing on TV caskets floating in the flood in the Midwest. He said that at least one cemetery was emptied of over 600 caskets. It is obvious that God sent the flood in judgment of the wickedness of America. The sin and wickedness of America is causing even the land to spue out the dead bodies of Americans.

This passage shows us that when justice is done on earth, vengeance from heaven ceases.

Vv. 15-21.

These battles are evidently toward the end of David's reign. He should have been able to take it easy, but thought the enemy had been subdued, he continually kicked up his heels.

1) the enemies of God never give up hope that they can overthrow God. Therefore, peace only comes when the enemy is subdued by the gospel.

2) David has grown old, but he has not grown lazy. He himself goes down to the fight. There is no excuse for quitting the battle with the enemies of God. The Lord's army has no retirement plan.

3) He did not need the glory of victory; therefore, his willingness to fight was for the good of the kingdom.

4) David waxed faint in the battle, so the giant sought to kill him. The enemy was confident that David's human frailty made David an easy victim of his new sword.

The enemies of God have not God in their thoughts; therefore, their overconfidence leads to their destruction. They do not realize that they are not fighting flesh and blood, but the Lord of Hosts. The Captain of the Lord's army never sleeps or slumbers.

The enemies of God are strong and confident in their own strength and abilities, but there is no strength, nor counsel, nor confidence against the Lord, Pro 21:30.

5) David waxed faint, but David did not flee. He stood his ground though death seemed emanate. The Lord then sent to David a deliverer, and David was made a conqueror.

Certainly, the battle is fierce, the enemy strong and the fate of the faithful seems settled (destruction). But there is a Deliver that changes the whole situation, Rom 8:37.

6) David protected from further danger in battle. We mentioned this previously when David was kept from Absolom, but we will mention it again: There are people who are more valuable to the just cause than are others. These important people should be protected.

V. 15, the giants

1) It is interesting that the giant in v. 20 had seen the other giants fall, yet he still defied Israel. This shows us that knowledge will not deliver anyone. This giant knew the truth, yet he was confident he would prevail anyway.

Sin deceives and blinds to the truth of any matter. Sin causes one to ignore the facts and pursue an ungodly course anyway. Thus the fallacy of Sex & Drug education, &c. Only the Spirit of God can reveal the truth and enable one to avoid destruction.

2) these giants were confident in their strength, yet they ignored God. They had everything needed in the worlds eyes for success, but God was against them, 1 Cor 1:27.

3) David opened his public life slaying the giant of Gaith. Now at the close of David's public life, he is credited with conquering four giants, v. 22.

Death is the greatest enemy a Christian must face, but it has been conquered, 1 Cor 15:26.