Reading through the Bible together
In this chapter we learned more about the historiographers of David’s life. We tend to think that they were disorganized and not chronological. They did have a system of chronology. For example, David ruled 7 years and six months from Hebron and then moved to Jerusalem from which he ruled for 33 years until his death (2Samuel 5:5). David did not provide for the needs of Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan and the grandson of Saul, until he moved to Jerusalem as mentioned in 2 Samuel 9:13 where it says that Mephibosheth ate continually with David.
Before this we learn about a situation that is not pleasant, having to do with the enemies of Saul and his sons as pawns for political recognition from which Mephibosheth was spared. The Gibeonites, a remnant of the Amorites had made a mutual agreement with the Israelites during the time of Joshua. Although their city lay in the territory of Benjamin, Saul unjustifiably massacred some of its inhabitants. A famine was God’s punishment for the deeds of Saul. Later David gave in to the request of the Gibeonites to give them seven men from Saul’s family to be hanged as a repayment for what Saul had done to them. David eager for peace agreed, but did not give them Mephibosheth. It was in the first days of the barley harvest (2 Samuel 21:9) that they hanged these seven on the side of a mountain as a display that life for life justice had been carried out. Two of Rizpah’s sons were also hanged (she was the daughter of Saul’s concubine Aiah). Rizpah, camped by the rock day and night to keep the birds and animals away from the bodies (verse 10).
Before this, the men of Jabesh-Gilead had gone to the city of Beth Shan at night, where the Philistines had fastened the bodies of Saul and Jonathan to the wall, took the bodies down, brought them home and gave them an honorable burial. After the experience with the Gibeonites, David went to Jabesh-Gilead, repossessed the bones of Saul and Jonathan, added to them the bones of the seven men, and buried all of them in the tomb of Saul’s father. Then God answered the prayer of the land (2 Samuel 21:12-14). But why is God seemingly pleased with the death of seven descendants of Saul and to listen to the prayer for the land? It is not God, but the Gibeonites that are satisfied with justice and turned back to God, and God responded.
The historiographer has one more point to discuss with us, namely, who was involved in the Philistine wars with Israel. The point is that the soldiers of David did not want him to continue to go out into the thick of the battle because David easily became weary. So the scribe tells us about the men who replaced David’s legacy of fighting giants. For instance, the giant Ishbi-Benob was killed by Abishai the son of Zeruiah. In another battle, the giant Saph was killed by Sibbechai. In a later event, Elhanan killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite. The last in the list is a battle at Gath where Jonathan the son of Shimei killed the giant who had six fingers on each and hand and six fingers on each foot. Each of these giants was armed with every conceivable weapon needed. Although the name of the Lord is not mentioned in this list of wars and events, one can conclude that the Lord protected David and gave him victory over his enemies by the hand of his soldiers.
We are living in a world of divisions and migrations of partitions and hybrids. Also true religion is compromised on every level but through all this we have the surety that you will guide and lead and protect the faithful ones and take care also of us in our daily needs. In Jesus name. Amen
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea