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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 21

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-22

2 Samuel 21:1-14 Seven of Saul’s Sons are Hanged in Divine Judgment - This is the story of how God judged the land of Israel for the sins of its past leader, King Saul. When King David realized that the blessings of God were no longer operating in the land, he began to ask God the reason. God showed him the cause of divine judgment and David went and remedied the problem and brought God’s blessings back upon the land. Joshua experienced a similar situation during his conquest of Canaan when Israel fell to the city of Ai because of the sin of Achan (Joshua 7:1-26). When Joshua judged the wrong, the blessings of God returned to the children of God and they took the city.

There have been a number of times in my life when I perceived that the hand of God was not upon my life, and a time of drought had come. It usually takes a month or two to become clear that the windows of heaven had shut up. I pray and find that I need to deal with unforgiveness in my life over someone or some situation in which I feel that I was wronged. We must keep our hearts pure or else the blessings of God leave in every area that we have been given dominion over in this life.

2 Samuel 21:1 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

2 Samuel 21:1 Comments - In Joshua 9:3-27, Israel made a man’s covenant with the Gibeonites against God’s will. In 2 Samuel 21:1 we see that God held Israel to their word, thought the covenant was made outside of God’s will.

David knew a famine meant that some sin had brought the curse of the law upon Israel. So, David inquired to God about this. David always asked the Lord about going into battle (2 Samuel 5:19). David was simply following the Mosaic Law in inquiring to the Lord (Numbers 27:21).

2 Samuel 5:19, “And David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand.”

Numbers 27:21, “And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.”

2 Samuel 21:6 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.

2 Samuel 21:6 Scripture References - Note:

Numbers 35:33, “So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.”

2 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.

2 Samuel 21:7 Comments - Three oaths were involved in this passage of Scripture:

1. Joshua to the Gibeonites:

Joshua 9:15, “And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them.”

2. David and Jonathan's covenant:

1 Samuel 20:15-16, “But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the LORD hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth. So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David's enemies.”

3. David to the Gibeonites - 2 Samuel 21:6 “I will give them.”

2 Samuel 21:9 And he delivered them 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.

2 Samuel 21:9 Comments - Study this time of the year to see if it coincides with the Passover sacrifice, then see how these seven sons were symbolic of the sacrificial lamb.

Here we see that it was the time of year approaching the Passover, for the ten plagues preceded the Passover (Exodus 9:31).

Exodus 9:31, “And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled. But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up.”

2 Samuel 21:10-14 Rizpah Mourns for Her Sons - Rizpah sat alone day and night driving off birds and beasts, while smelling and seeing her two sons and the five sons of Michal decay.

2 Samuel 21:10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.

2 Samuel 21:10 Comments - The phrase “to rest on them” in 2 Samuel 21:10 refers to the seven dead bodies. Rizpah the daughter of Aiah stayed right by those bodies day and night. There was an interesting story similar to this event on CNN International News. An Afghan child was accidentally shot by U.S. soldiers. Although the child was taken and treated in a local hospital, the mother lay upon the ground at the spot where the child was injured and refused to move until her child was returned. This placed the U.S. soldiers in an uneasy position of having to take care of the mother as well as the child. [66]

[66] “World News,” CNN International (London, dated June 22, 2004), television program.

Why would a woman do such an act of suffering? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that women in oriental and Middle Eastern societies have few rights, if any, to bring about justice. The only alternative left is to afflict themselves until someone has enough mercy to recognize the need and give assistance.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/2-samuel-21.html. 2013.
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