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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 21

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-14

The Difficulty with the Gibeonites Adjusted

v. 1. Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year, three successive years, a fact which made the visitation seem a special punishment; and David enquired of the Lord, he sought the face of the Lord, by consulting with the high priest, after earnest prayer. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul and for his bloody house, the house upon which blood-guiltiness rested, because he slew the Gibeonites, he had put to death a number of those people to whom Joshua and the princes of Israel had sworn immunity, Joshua 9:15.

v. 2. And the king called the Gibeonites and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites, as the author here inserts for the sake of the people of his time, were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites, this name here designating the heathen nations of Canaan in general; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them; and Saul, disregarding the oath and the covenant, sought to slay, to exterminate, them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah;)

v. 3. wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? And wherewith shall I make the atonement, expiate the wrong done and appease the Lord's anger, that ye may bless the inheritance of the Lord? He wanted them to change their maledictions upon Israel into blessings.

v. 4. And the Gibeonites said unto him, we will have no silver nor gold of Saul, they wanted no compensation of money in exchange for the blood shed by Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel, they had no right to put any one to death; they wanted blood revenge, but could not proceed without the consent and command of David. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you. It is really a question asking them to express themselves more exactly, to state their request in specific terms.

v. 5. And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, who had slain the best of their tribe and practically annihilated them, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel,

v. 6. let seven men of his sons, descendants, near relatives, be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up, punish them by crucifixion, unto the Lord, before His face, to appease His anger, in Gibeah of Saul, whom the Lord did choose. Saul had been the "chosen of Jehovah," king of Israel, when he had done this wrong, and therefore the whole people was being punished. And the king said, I will give them. He was ready to make the atonement.

v. 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. The oath of the covenant between David and Jonathan had included the promise of sparing the sons of Jonathan, 1 Samuel 20:15-16.

v. 8. But the king took the two sons of Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth, the sons of Saul's concubine, and the five sons of Michal, the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for, literally, "had born to," Adriel, the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. Evidently Michal, who had originally been the wife of David, 1 Samuel 18:27, and was later given to Phaltiel, 1 Samuel 25:44, to be returned to David upon his accession to the throne, 2 Samuel 3:15, had also, for some years, been the wife of this Adriel, for after her contemptuous behavior towards David, 2 Samuel 6:23, she had no children, she bore no children to David.

v. 9. And he, David, delivered them, the seven men selected by him, into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them, impaled them with extended limbs, 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, at the very beginning of the summer in that climate, about the middle of April,

v. 10. And Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, the mother of two of the hanged men, took sackcloth, the usual garment of mourners, and spread it for her upon the rock, to serve as her bed, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, until the falling of rain some time during the summer indicated that the anger of God was appeased, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night. This being a case where the bodies mere to serve as a sign of expiation, they were not taken do-m from the stakes in the evening, Deuteronomy 21:22. Since ravenous birds and beasts were not permitted to come near the bodies, they probably dried out quickly.

v. 11. And it was told David what Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.

v. 12. And David, touched by this evidence of a mother's faithfulness and loving care, went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan, his son, from the men of Jabesh-gilead, in the country east of Jordan, which had stolen them from the street, from the open place near the city gate, where they had been fastened to the wall, 1 Samuel 31:10-12, of Bethshan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa;

v. 13. and he brought up from thence the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan, his son; and they gathered the bones of them that were hanged.

v. 14. And the bones of Saul and Jonathan, his son, buried they, most likely with those of the seven executed men, in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the sepulcher of Kish, his father, not far from Gibeah; and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was intreated for the land, He did not permit the famine to continue. Even the lowliest of men are in God's care, and He may punish an entire country for an injustice done to them. It is the duty of the believers, therefore, to help the poor and lowly obtain justice.

Verses 15-22

Exploits During the Philistine Wars

v. 15. Moreover, the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, his standing army, his heroes, and fought against the Philistines; and David waxed faint, he was overcome with weariness.

v. 16. And Ishbi-benob, which was of the sons of the giant, one of the giant race of the Rephaim, to which also Goliath belonged, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, that is, the brazen head of his lance weighed about eight pounds, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David.

v. 17. But Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, one of David's commanders, succored him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him, thus saving the life of David. Then the men of David swam unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, not take part actively in battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel, for so David was regarded by his men, as a symbol of Israel's life in fortune and honor.

v. 18. And it came to pass after this that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob, probably a small place near Gezer; then Sibbechai the Hushathite, a general in the standing army, slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant, also a member of the ancient giant race.

v. 19. And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan, the son of Jaare-oregim, or simply Jair, 1 Chronicles 20:5, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam.

v. 20. And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature that had on every hand six fingers and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant, he was likewise a member of the giant race.

v. 21. And when he defied Israel, as Goliath had done in the Valley of Elah, 1 Samuel 17, Jonathan, the son of Shimeah, the brother of David, slew him.

v. 22. These four were born to the giant in Gath and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants, for they were killed by the heroes of David while he was their commander in the field. David here appears as an example to all believers, for they all should work while it is day; for the night cometh when no man can work.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/2-samuel-21.html. 1921-23.
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