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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

2 Samuel 21

Verses 1-14

  1. INTRO:
    1. Asia Bibi: Read page. Watch Video.
    2. Pray.
    3. 2 Samuel closes w/2 national calamities: a drought caused by King Saul’s sin(21), & a plague caused by King David’s sin(24). In between these 2 tragic events we’ll see 4 victories.
    4. Outline: Sin, Retribution, Compassion.
  2. SIN! (1)
    1. Nowhere in Scripture are we told when or why Saul slaughtered the Gibeonites.
      1. Saul killed several but intended to wipe them all out, so it was a case of “ethnic cleansing” & genocide.
      2. Another weird twist...Jeiel(Ja-EYE-l), Saul’s great-grandfather was the ancestor of the Gibeonites(1 Chron.9:35-39). So he slaughtered his own relatives.
        1. Gibeon was located in the tribe of Benjamin’s territory (which was Saul’s tribe). Maybe that is a clue to his behavior?
        2. It was bad enough they had to live in Israel, but in my neighborhood? [Maybe Saul was the 1st to coin the phrase, “Not in my neighborhood!”]
    2. 3 years passed before David took the famine seriously to heart; or realized that it might have a special cause.
      1. 1st year, “huh, an unexpected change in weather?” (El Nino); 2nd year, “It’s bound to improve”; 3rd year, David sought the face of the Lord.
        1. At 1st I said, “David it took you 3 years to figure that out?” You’re slipping!
          1. Then God whispered in my heart, “How long to you take to figure out things?” 3 years didn’t seem so long!
    3. Strange reason for a famine!
      1. Story is in Joshua 9 (read 9:4-6; 14-16,18,21). At a time when God had told them to take/conqueror the land.
      2. They obtained Joshua’s oath by fraud, but God regarded it binding.
  3. RETRIBUTION! (2-9)
    1. We today, who have the NT, & understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, view this episode with mingled disgust & dismay.
      1. But we must keep in mind that we’re dealing with law, not grace; & Israel, not the church.
      2. We must keep in mind though, the death of the 7 men was not atonement but legal retribution.
    2. Saul had been dead for over 30 years, & the Lord had patiently waited for this sin to be dealt with. This was “Deferred Retribution!” (i.e. Postponed punishment)
      1. Deferred Retribution? - Yes, maybe like, “Wait till your father gets home.”
      2. Some this postponed punishment is 30 minutes, 30 days, or in this case 30 years.
        1. Often Gods looong-suffering waits out a persons whole life…& then deals with it then.
        2. Often there thought as forgotten sins…but they’re NOT forgotten!
          1. Prov.8:36 he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
        3. Thats why the gospel message includes, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Jer.31:34
    3. The gibeonites didn’t want money; they knew that no amount of money could ransom a murderer or recompense the survivors.
      1. Saul should have known...Numb.35:33,34 you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. Therefore do not defile the land which you inhabit, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the Lord dwell among the children of Israel.
    4. How is it that they can leave the bodies hanging on the tree? Slide #6 There is a law written in Deut.21:22,23 which reads, If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.
    5. What was the reason for this law? So that…(why there is a famine, Saul defiled the land)
    6. How does that explain the exception that is made here? The land was already defiled.
      1. Deut.28:1-4 He would send rain to the land if His people would honor & obey Him.
    7. The beginning of barley harvest(vs.9 - April) till the late rains(vs.10 - Oct). 5/6 months!
  4. COMPASSION! (10-14)
    1. (10) It was a heathen practice to expose to ridicule the hung body; Remember the Gibeonites were not bound by the laws of Israel.
    2. Rizpah! Picture: a women, alone, keeping watch day & night over the dead, unburied bodies of her 2 sons & Saul’s 5 grandsons. Keeping watch from wild dogs & carnivorous vultures. Alone, weary, on a rock. That’s got to be creepy, in the pitch black of night, you &...7 rotting corpses.
      1. Some I’m sure would see her as the crazy women of town. Others would see her dedication as an act of love & courage on her sons & nephews.
      2. She couldn’t keep them from being hung, but she could watch that no further dishonor be done to their bodies.
        1. There she is...she is still there, she is still mourning, she is still loving, she's still praying, she's still interceding, she's still mediating.
        2. Look at your bulletin covers, a painting by Gustave Dore.
        3. Joseph Turner painted one of the most famous of these pictures. The 7 bodies are depicted lying on the rock, covered w/sackcloth. Rizpah has her face covered w/1 hand; w/the other she waves a lighted torch to frighten off wild animals. A lion crouches near, & a bird of prey circles in the air.
      3. Her sackcloth (Course cloth woven from the hair of goats & camels) spread out to shield her from the hot summer sun by day, & to rest on at night.
      4. What Faith! - She believed, sooner or later, God would deliver the land from famine & her dear ones might at least have an honorable burial.
      5. Rizpah’s name has come to mean intense suffering, such as only a devoted mother can endure.
        1. Rizpah, in her suffering, typifies thousand’s of wives, daughters, & sisters, either sitting by the bedside of loved ones or mourning at their death.
        2. A present day photo that grabbed our hearts & minds recently was when a chocolate Lab named Hawkeye, walked down the isle & faithfully laid at the coffin of his master, fallen Navy SEAL Petty Officer Jon T. Tumilson, for the whole service!
      6. Rizpah had to endure the death of her 1st husband Saul (along with the knowledge of his beheading & mutilation of his body). Then, she was fought over by Abner(Saul’s general) & Ishbosheth(Saul’s youngest son). Abner won, but then was stabbed by Joab. So, she lost her 1st husband, 2nd husband, she only has left her 2 sons Armoni & Mephibosheth whom she now just witnessed being executed.
        1. And now, a unrelenting perpetual death. One you cant bury, or get past, or move on.
      7. Rizpah who once worn queenly garments while a concubine in Saul’s court, now donned sackcloth for mourning.
      8. Rizpah is one of literature’s most beautiful/tragic examples of a mother’s love.
        1. In spite of her circumstances, she got through with determinate devotion and love that birthed hope in her heart.
        2. We wonder if her story suggested Alfred Lord Tennyson’s, Rizpah, which transfers a resolute devotion to a different but equally tragic setting. [The Lawyers hung her son forstealing, which he did on a dare]
          1. Flesh of my flesh was gone, but bone of my bone was left –
            I stole them all from the lawyers - and you, will you call it a theft? - My baby, the bones that had suck`d me, the bones that had laughed and had cried - Theirs? O, no! they are mine - not theirs - they had moved in my side.
            Do you think I was scared by the bones? I kiss`d `em, I buried `em all - I can`t dig deep, I am old - in the night by the churchyard wall. My Willy`ll rise up whole when the trumpet of judgment`ll sound, But I charge you never to say that I laid him in holy ground.
    3. Are you a woman of Tragedy? A man of Tragedy?
      1. Tragedy = (def.) an event causing great suffering, destruction, & distress.
      2. Maybe the tragedy is with your spouse, your kids, your parents, your job, your friends, your co-workers, your dreams, your hopes,...maybe all the above?
      3. How did she get through it? She wasn't deterred by her hunger, by exhaustion, by the stench of the decomposing bodies, by her own grief, by hopelessness of her situation, by the reactions of others who passed by; but her tribulation worked patience, and her patience experience, and her experience hope. She never gave up! She loved, and because she loved she was devoted, and because she was devoted she persevered, and because she persevered it gave birth to hope in her heart.
      4. How do you get through it? How do I get through? Hope. You see when you lose hope, you lose everything.
      5. I was talking last night to Lori Fischer at Starbucks. She was saying so many of our friends (our age) dealing w/the deaths of our grandparents, parents!
    4. (11) Love Ignites Love! (Read vs.11, David following Rizpah’s lead)
      1. Paul echoes Rizpah's sentiment and passion in 1 Corinthians 13, does he not? 'Love suffers long. Love is kind. Love endures all things. Love never fails'.
        1. Shakespeare's 116th sonnet: 'Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds...O no! it is an ever-fixed markThat looks on tempests and is never shaken...Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom'.
      2. The devotion of her love became contagious; even stirring the kings heart to treat with similar honors the remains of Saul & Jonathan.
      3. Fire spreads itself w/o depleting itself. Go on doing what is right at all costs; it will stir others to deeds of heroic zeal!
    5. So David brought the whole family: Saul, Jonathan, & these 7, & gave them a proper burial in their family tomb.
      1. To have a proper burial with one’s ancestors was the desire of every Israelite.
    6. (14) After that God heeded the prayer for the land.
      1. Falling rain(10b) proved that the famine was ended.
    7. We compliment David on how swift he moved, as soon as he understood the problem; & dealt drastically with sin for the sake of the nation.
    8. If love ignites love; or love inspires love; Who inspires you?
      1. Who inspires you as: a writer, a thinker, a preacher, a radio/TV talk show host?
      2. Who inspires you to dig deeper in Gods word?
      3. Who inspires you as an athlete?
        1. Kelly saw women running a marathon, w/2 artificial legs; inspires her to run on diff days
      4. Who inspires you to care for the homeless; for someone that is hurting; for those less fortunate than you?
      5. Who inspires you to be hospitable?
      6. Who inspires you to w/their lifestyle?
        1. Quote: “A recent study showed that there are 3 things you can’t teach to people: lifestyle, morals, and attitudes.” [They really need to be shown!] (Leadership)
        2. I’m challenged by Francis Chan’s lifestyle I read about in his book Crazy Love.
        3. I’m challenged by David Platt’s lifestyle challenge in his book Radical.
        4. I’m challenged by Richard Stearn’s lifestyle change in Hole In The Gospel.
      7. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Who inspires you to love others?
        1. David Eubank (FBR); Steve Gumaer (Partners) “Free & Full lives for the children of Burma”.
      8. What movie has inspired you? Courageous! - A MUST to see. (4 Law Enforcement Officers learning courage & honor start at home)
        1. Film by Sherwood Pictures(Sherwood Bapt Church, Albany Georgia) Facing the Giants/Fireproof
      9. What music inspires you?
    9. Who have you Inspired? Who will you Inspire this week?
      1. Mother Theresa inspired so many to love others, and thus, 'Missionaries of Charity' was born. It was established in 1950. It now consists of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries. Members must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty, & obedience, and the fourth vow, to give "Wholehearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor".
    10. We all know of another time, 3000 years later in history, another hanging of 3 men, with another woman at the foot of the cross (& others).
      1. In St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh. There's a impressive stained glass window in the church, and it portrays a picture of the crucifixion. There at Calvary are these three crosses, and the Lord at the centre, two thieves either side. But the artist portrays a great throng around the foot of the cross, and that whole crowd is turned facing the spectacle. The guide at the Cathedral points out, that right at the bottom right-hand corner there was a face that was not looking toward the cross, but was looking toward us. The reason was to draw us into the crowd Slide #13b - to realize that we had a part, our sin laid on Him.
      2. Those ghastly corpses might well have affrighted Rizpah, especially by night, but in our Lord, at whose foot of the cross we are sitting, there is nothing revolting, but everything attractive. Never was living beauty so enchanting, as a dying Saviour!
        1. Love Ignites Love!​​​​​​​
    11. Very End: Fire spreads itself w/o depleting itself. Go on doing what is right at all costs; it will stir others to deeds of heroic zeal! Be a Rizpah.

Verses 15-22

  1. Intro:
    1. Last week: “Love Ignites Love”; This week: “Giant Killer begets Giant Killers!”
    2. Lessons from famous soldiers:
      1. A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him. Douglas MacArthur
      2. We are not retreating - we are advancing in another direction. Douglas MacArthur
      3. I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom. George Patton
      4. A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. George Patton
      5. A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood. George Patton
      6. Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory. George Patton
    3. Lets listen in today for another soldier(David) & the lessons he left us with. [Read 15-22]
    4. David was engaged in a battle with the Philistines.
      1. This battle took place when David was past the prime of his life(65-70); and in the battle...the old warrior grew weary.
      2. David’s enemy sensed the king's vulnerability, and filled with confidence, he presses his advantage.
      3. Furious and unrelenting in his assault, David was on the defensive, and only able to block one blow after another.
      4. David could not hold out much longer; he was about to die, but then Abishai came to his rescue.
        1. God's man is rescued, and we learn some valuable lessons from the old soldier.
  2. LESSON #1
    1. WE DO NOT LOSE OUR VALUE BY LOSING AN ABILITY! (17b) (Some Notes taken from Ron Parker, Lessons from an old soldier.)
    2. We may not always be able to serve the Lord in the same way we do now or the way we used to
      1. It may be a source of frustration and grief, to lose abilities we once had.
      2. Our health will not always allow us to do what we so desperately want to do.
    3. (17b) David’s men said that he could no longer go into battle with them.
      1. Here was a man who still had the fight in him, but who could no longer be in the fight.
      2. Was it a sign that he had lost his value, or that he could no longer be a contributing member of his nation?
      3. The very reason his men insisted that he not return to battle was his value [lest you quench the light of Israel]
      4. His very presence was such a force among God's people, that it was too precious to lose.
      5. It is wrong to measure our usefulness by only the external measures of activity.
  3. LESSON #2 (15,18,19,20)
    1. WE SHOULD EXPECT CONSTANT ATTACK FROM THE ENEMY!
    2. Just like Israel and the Philistines; we know that there will always be another spiritual battle to be fought.
      1. There is no point in Christian maturity that marks the end of the conflict.
        1. David battling giants till the very end.
      2. Battle is part of our Christian life.
    3. God likes to arrange such odds in life: [A David against Goliath; Moses against Pharaoh; Gideon against Midiantes; Elijah against prophets]
      1. Why? Causes us to be dependent on Him. When we are weak, He is strong. And, it brings Him the most glory.
    4. There is no blessing without a battle.
      1. God uses the battle in our life to teach us stability and faithfulness, along with other things.
      2. We should thank God for the battles in our life, rather than complain about them.
      3. As long as we are a threat to the devil, he will be attacking.
  4. LESSON #3
    1. ​​​​​​​THE ENEMY ATTACKS US WHEN & WHERE WE ARE WEAK! (15,16)
    2. When did the giant move in for the kill? When David grew faint.
    3. Example: An important part of football is “Scouting”. A person who watches games, video tapes, take notes & analyzes all the tendencies of a players such as, how wide receivers get off the ball, & how quarterbacks break from the huddle. Why? So you can find the weaknesses and strengths of the opposing team/players.
      1. We can be sure that the devil has a "scout book" on you.
      2. He knows when we are growing faint, where we are vulnerable, and to what we are susceptible.
      3. None of us have the luxury of an unguarded moment, or an area without growth.
  5. LESSON #4
    1. ​​​​​​​WATCH OUT FOR AN OLD ENEMY W/A NEW WEAPON! (16)
    2. Notice what we can know about Giants: Big! Goliath over 9 feet tall; Strong! Emphasizes weight of armaments; Well equipped! new sword, idea of cutting edge technology; Well trained & Defiant against God!
    3. ​​​​​​​He girded him w/a new sword –
    4. New swords work!
      1. Ask Iraq; smart bombs and high-tech weaponry caused them to surrender in droves
      2. An ancient Chinese general wrote, "When I have won a victory I do not repeat my tactics, but respond to circumstances in an infinite variety of ways."
    5. The devil is no less smart.
      1. While the temptations are the same, the labels and packaging are changed all the time.
  6. LESSON #5
    1. ​​​​​​​WE NEED THE HELP OF OTHERS IN THE BATTLE! (17)
    2. We would do well to learn, that spiritual warfare is just too heavy a burden to carry alone.
      1. Eccl.4:9,10 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his companion: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has no one to help him up.
    3. Even David needed the aid of Abishai.
    4. Paul described Epaphroditus as, my brother, & companion in labour, & fellow soldier Phil 2:25
      1. David didn't fight alone, and Paul didn't fight alone, and neither should we.
      2. If our situation is not like that of David, then we should be like Abishai, and looking out for those who are!
    5. What is in your life today that God wants to slay?
      1. We all have giants of one form or another to overcome, and giants that we need to band together to overcome!
  7. LESSON #6
    1. ​​​​​​​WE SHOULD DEVELOP THE POWER OF A GODLY INFLUENCE! (18-21)
    2. Until David showed up on the scene to bring some food to his brothers, no one dared to take on Goliath. But years later, after David was a veteran soldier, Scripture records several giant killers following his footsteps.
      1. ​​​​​​​Sometimes all it takes to move others to the next level is “an inspiring example of someone who does something no one ever thought of trying to do.”
    3. In this passage, we see 3 more servants of David, who were named as “Giant Killers!
      1. We live in a time when giants roam the earth, killers who devour God's people.
      2. Spiritual giants, but giants nevertheless, and giants which must be slain
      3. Sibbechai, Elhanon, and Jonathon were giant killers, and all 3 were under the influence of that man of God, who pioneered Giant Killing!
    4. ​​​​​​​It seems that those who were around David caught what he had. [caught not taught]
      1. Saul rarely went to battle with his men. He stayed in the tent in the rear and commanded men to lay down their lives. This kind of leader doesn’t inspire valor in his men.
      2. These men grew up hearing about the victories of David, and aspired to victories of their own.
      3. These looked up to David, and wanted to be like him.
      4. There is nothing wrong with having heroes, but they need to be the right heroes.
    5. (22) Is a summarization of what happened.
      1. We should notice that is says they fell by the hand of David and his servants.
        1. Why does it say that they fell by the hand of David, when he did not kill any of them.
      2. David had raised up and influenced a generation of giant killers; their victory was his victory!
      3. The giant killer had begotten giant killers. Giant Killers beget Giant Killers!
        1. ​​​​​​​If a certain genetic strain produces gigantism, what spiritual genetics are needed to produce spiritual giant killers?
        2. It takes being a giant killer to make one. Valor begets valor. Faith begets faith.
        3. Read Ps.71:7-9; 17,18
      4. May God enable us to do the same.
    6. Chapter 23 chronicles all the mighty men that followed after David. To have a legacy of 37 valiant men who follow your example is incredibly awesome! Though they were not known for being giant killers, we’ll read in a few weeks what mighty exploits they each did to gain their name of fame?
    7. Conclusion: This world will be won for Jesus Christ one neighborhood at a time when we follow the footsteps of those who have inspired us and we in turn inspire others to walk boldly for Christ.
      1. One back hills country preacher in a small community in South Carolina preached faithfully every Sunday for years and wondered if he would have any affect on those who listened. He died without knowing that one of the young boys listening each week in that little country church was one of the greatest evangelists of all time… Billy Graham.
      2. And you, soldier of Jesus Christ…Who will take up the sword after you? Who will fill your shoes?
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/2-samuel-21.html. 2017.