2Samuel 21:1-14

Sunday Morning Bible Study

May 5, 2002


We’re going to look at a story that seems to take place toward the end of David’s reign.

:1-9 Ending the Drought

:1 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years

faminera‘ab – famine, hunger


Tough times can get your attention

It seems that God will sometimes resort to allowing us to go through tough times in order to get our attention and turn us back to Him.  In the book of Deuteronomy, God warned His people that if they walked away from Him, He would bring difficult times in order to bring them back.
(Deu 28:23 KJV) And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.
Tough times aren’t intended simply to punish us or wipe us out. God doesn’t punish us for every little sin we commit.
(Psa 103:10 KJV) He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
But sometimes we’re doing something that just isn’t safe. God needs to get our attention to turn us back to Him, where it’s safe.
The Bricklayer’s Accident Report
Dear Sir/Madam:
I am writing in response to your request for additional information. In block number 3 of the accident report form, I put “trying to do the job alone” as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully, and I trust that the following details will be sufficient.
I am a bricklayer by trade. On the date of the accident I was working alone on the roof of a new 6-story building. When I completed my work, I discovered that I had about 500 pounds of brick left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley, which fortunately was attached to the side of the building, at the sixth floor.
Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out, and loaded the brick into it. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of brick. You will note in block number 11 of the accident report that I weigh 135 pounds.
Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate up the side of the building.
In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley.
Fortunately, by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my pain.
At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground—and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed approximately 50 pounds.
I refer you again to my weight in block number 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building.
In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles and the lacerations of my legs and lower body. The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of bricks, and, fortunately, only 3 vertebrae were cracked.
I’m sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the bricks, in pain, unable to stand, and watching the empty barrel 6 stories above me—I again lost my presence of mind, and I let go of the rope. The empty barrel weighed more than the rope as it came back down on me and broke both my legs.
I hope I have furnished the information you require as to how the accident occurred.
Sincerely, Billy Wohlnut

If you are going through tough times, it might be that you’re not in a safe place. Is God trying to get your attention?

:1 David inquired of the LORD

The Hebrew here says David “sought the face of the LORD

David had a sense that things weren’t as they should be. He sensed that this famine had a cause, and so he sought God’s help.

:1 It is for Saul…because he slew the Gibeonites.

Keep in mind that God is the one that comes up with this conclusion.  It is God who tells them that the famine came because of a problem with the Gibeonites.

Gibeonites – These are the inhabitants of the city of Gibeon. These were some of the original Canaanites who lived in the land when Joshua brought Israel in to conquer the land. When these people found out about the Israelites (Josh. 9), they decided the best way to fight the Israelites was to join them. They sent messengers disguised as travelers from a distant country and made a peace treaty with Joshua and the nation. When Joshua and the people found out later that they had been tricked, they didn’t try to get out of their promise, but they kept their promise to the Gibeonites. They knew they needed to keep their promise to God.


Keep your promises

The whole problem of the famine came as a result of Saul breaking a promise.
God is very serious about us being people who keep promises. (Mat. 5:37)
(Mat 5:37 NLT)  Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.' Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong.
He wants the world to know that He keeps His promises.
(2 Cor 1:20 NLT)  For all of God's promises have been fulfilled in him (Jesus)

:2 the Gibeonites …Saul sought to slay them in his zeal

zealqana’ – to envy, be jealous, be envious, be zealous

Apparently, Saul had at one time gone on a campaign to kill the Gibeonites. We don’t have a record of this campaign, except for this mention.


Beware of misplaced passion

Zeal and passion can be a good thing, when it’s in the right place.
When Jesus cleansed the temple, the disciples realized that a Scripture, Ps. 69:9, was being fulfilled:

(John 2:17 KJV) And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

When Jesus establishes His kingdom on earth, He will do it with “zeal”, with “passion”.

Isa 9:7 Of the increase of [his] government and peace [there shall be] no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Jesus said,

(Rev 3:19-20 KJV) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. {20} Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

When we realize that we are in a bad place, we ought to be “zealous” about how we turn around. We ought to be “passionate” about turning from our sin.

But sometimes our “passion” can be misplaced.
Paul at one time had “zeal” for God, but he misused it to persecute the church.

Php 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church

Paul wrote that the Jews had a “zeal” for God, but it was incorrect.

Ro 10:2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

It’s good to be passionate. But we need to be careful that our “passion” doesn’t get ahead of God. We need to be sure that our “passion” stays within the boundaries of God’s Word.
Gifts of the Spirit – some of us can be quite passionate when it comes to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I think speaking in tongues can be quite a passionate experience. We believe that God works today through the gifts of the Spirit just like in the days of the New Testament. But I think we need to be careful that we don’t get misled by our “passion”.
The Corinthian church apparently was quite familiar with the gifts of the Spirit. They spoke in tongues. They prophesied (1Cor. 1:5). And Paul rebukes them for being carnal and immature (1Cor. 3:1-3).
Just having the gifts of the Spirit doesn’t make you mature. You still need to learn to work within God’s guidelines.

It’s not uncommon when a person first receives the gift of tongues to think that they’ve become something special.  But keep in mind, Paul classifies the gift of tongues as least important gift (1Cor. 12:28-30).

Paul says that if the entire church is speaking out loud in tongues and a visitor comes to the church, they are going to think that you’re crazy (1Cor. 14:23). Not a good thing. Instead, Paul says there ought to be rules about speaking out in tongues, and he talks about it in 1Cor. 14.

Does this mean we shouldn’t seek spiritual gifts? Absolutely not. Look at how Paul uses the word zeal in this matter:

(1 Cor 14:12 KJV) Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We need spiritual gifts, but we need to use them properly.

:3 What shall I do for you? …that ye may bless the inheritance of the LORD?

This is important. David is asking the Gibeonites what will make them happy. Don’t think that God is going to give these requirements. These are going to be the things that will make the Gibeonites happy.

:4 We will have no silver nor gold of Saul

We can’t be bought off. It’s not about money.

:4 neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel.

Not just any person’s death will do.

:6 Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us

This wasn’t God’s requirement. This is what the Gibeonites want.

:8 the two sons of Rizpah

Rizpah – this was the gal that Ishbosheth had accused Abner of having an affair with.

:8 the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:

Michal – this raises some problems.

If “Michal” is correct, this would be the gal that was the first wife of David. And she was childless (2Sam. 6:23).

One suggestion is that there was a copyist error here, and so the newer translations all have “Merab”. This would fit the rest of Scripture a little better since it was Merab who was married to Adriel:

(1 Sam 18:19 KJV) 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.

One other suggestion is that these five were the sons of Merab, who died, and who were raised by Michal.

:10-14 Burial

:10 And Rizpah …suffered neither the birds

In those days, crucifixion had not yet been invented. These men were put to death, and then their dead bodies were displayed. It was a great shame that a body hung out for all to see and in most cases, bodies were not allowed to hang for more than a day (Deut. 21:22-23).

As a part of appeasing the Gibeonites, the bodies were kept out in the open from the barley harvest in April until the early rains of October.

Rizpah kept guard over the bodies the entire time to keep them from being eaten by the birds or animals.

:14 in the sepulchre of Kish his father

David gathers up the bones from Saul and Jonathan which had been in Jabeshgilead, and takes the bodies of these seven men, and buries them all in the burial place of Kish. I think David is trying to offset the shame that Saul’s house has had to endure.

:14 And after that God was entreated for the land.

God wasn’t withholding rain and causing a famine because He was offended. He was withholding rain because the Gibeonites were offended. It wasn’t until the Gibeonites were satisfied that God was satisfied.  The Gibeonites were “outsiders”.  They are kind of a picture to us of unbelievers.


Offending Unbelievers

Sometimes our lives will be offensive to an unbeliever.
(John 3:19-21 KJV) And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. {20} For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. {21} But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
Not everyone likes to have their deeds exposed. Sometimes you don’t even have to say anything. Sometimes just because people know you’re a Christian, they feel convicted about their sin.


A well-known professional golfer was playing in a tournament with President Gerald Ford, fellow pro Jack Nicklaus, and Billy Graham. After the round was over, one of the other pros on the tour asked, “Hey, what was it like playing with the President and Billy Graham?” The pro said with disgust, “I don’t need Billy Graham stuffing religion down my throat!”  With that he headed for the practice tee. His friend followed, and after the golfer had pounded out his fury on a bucket of golf balls, he asked, “Was Billy a little rough on you out there?”  The pro sighed and said with embarrassment, “No, he didn’t even mention religion.”

Sometimes people are offended at the message of the cross.
(1 Cor 1:18 KJV) For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Some people have a problem understanding what God did on the cross.

They have this idea that the cross is horribly morbid and bloody.

Yet on the cross, Jesus took the punishment that I should have received, and through His death on the cross, God is able completely forgive me of all my sins.

Though at times I don’t understand the kind of love that drove Jesus to give His life for me, I can’t help but be thankful that He DOES love me.

Though there will be some things about a Christian that are supposed to offend an unbeliever, we need to be careful that through our disobedience we don’t become the thing that causes an unbeliever to “curse God”.
(Luke 17:1-2 KJV) Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! {2} It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

I think about the difficult time the Catholic Church is going through right now. A few monstrous priests have caused great offence to many. But Catholic priests aren’t the only people who have ever caused people to stumble.

I think that sometimes our own irresponsibility can cause people to stumble.



A young man gets engaged to a young woman and goes to meet her parents over dinner. After dinner the father takes the young man into the drawing room to find out his plans for life with his daughter. “So, what are your plans?” The father asks the fiancée. “I am a Biblical Scholar” he replies “A Biblical Scholar. Admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice home for my daughter to live in, as she deserves?” The father asks. “I will study” the young man replies “...God will provide for us.” “And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?” The father asks. “I will concentrate on my studies, God will provide for us.” the young man replies. “And children” the father asks “how will you support your children?” “Don’t worry sir” the young man replies “God will provide.” The conversation proceeds like this, and each time the father asks a question the young man insists that God will provide. Later, the mother asks about the discussion, “So, how did it go?” The father replies “He has no job and no plans, but the good news is he thinks I’m God.”

(1 Pet 2:12 NLT) Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world.
God wants our lives to be such that people will want what we have.


Drought ends when we turn around

THE RED UMBRELLA Retold by Tania Gray
As the drought continued for what seemed an eternity, a small community of mid-west farmers was in a quandary as to what to do. The rain was important not only in order to keep the crops healthy, but also to sustain the townspeople’s very way of living. As the problem became more urgent, the local church felt it was time to get involved and planned a prayer meeting in order to ask for rain. In what seemed a vague remembrance of an old Native American ritual, the people began to show. The pastor soon arrived and watched as his congregation continued to file in. He slowly circulated from group to group as he made his way to the front in order to officially begin the meeting. Everyone he encountered was visiting across the isles, enjoying the chance to socialize with their close friends. As the pastor finally secured his place in front of his flock, his thoughts were on the importance of quieting the crowd and starting the meeting. Just as he began asking for quiet, he noticed an eleven year-old girl sitting in the front row. She was angelically beaming with excitement and laying next to her was her bright red umbrella, poised for use. The beauty and innocence of this sight made the pastor smile to himself as he realized the faith this young girl possessed that the rest of the people in the room seemed to have forgotten. For the rest had come just to pray for rain.....She had come to see God answer.
I guess we could pass out red umbrellas this morning.  But I think God has another idea.  God would tell Solomon:
(2 Chr 7:13-14 KJV) If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; {14} If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

David humbled himself and sought God’s face. He asked God for directions. God said that David needed to make things right with the Gibeonites. And God answered with rain.

God tells Solomon that we are to do four things in a drought:

Humble ourselves


Seek God’s direction

Turn from our sin.

In response, God will forgive and heal. He will send rain.