Rizpah: The Influence of Faithfulness

Scripture: Psalm 91:4, 2 Samuel 3:6-11, 2 Samuel 21:1-6
Date: 11/27/2010 
Lesson: 9
Though only specifically mentioned twice in the Bible, Rizpah demonstrates that faithfulness is not connected to the circumstances of our lives.
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Good morning and a very Happy Sabbath to those of you who are tuning in and joining us on this beautiful Sabbath day here in Sacramento, California on the west coast of the United States of America. We welcome you. If you're watching from across the world, and across the country and around the world this morning, whether you're listening on the radio, watching on our website at saccentral.org, or on the various television networks, we welcome you. And we're so glad that we get to sing songs with you this morning, your favorites of course that you've sent in. I'd like to introduce to you our special guests this morning that you see behind me. This is the modesto men's chorus joining us from modesto, California, not too far from here. And they will be singing for our church service this morning.

So we're excited to have them with us. "Marvelous grace," 109. Pull out your hymnals those of you at home and join us as we sing, "marvelous grace." This is a request from anne marie in antigua and barbuda, ralph, birdie, mildred, mae and silvia in bahamas, sanita in barbados, jacqueline in Canada, consetta in england, lew and katie in Georgia, demy and cora in Hawaii, dulcie, silvan, lushane and rasheed in jamaica, and also richard, kerri-ann, marcice and tamika in jamaica, leo and dorothy in Michigan, bright in Minnesota, juliet, kevin, mara, stefan, martin and nellie in New York, gerald and ching in thailand, and sylvester in Virginia this morning. So sing loud those of you at home, 109, all three stanzas. [Music] All together! Oh, that sounds so lovely having the men's group.

And it's a beautiful song. God's grace, marvelous grace. What would we do without it? Absolutely nothing. If you have a favorite Christmas request that you would like to sing with us, get them in. You have a couple weeks to do that.

And we're going to start singing Christmas songs. Yea! Go to our website, saccentral.org, click on the "contact us" link. And you can send in your favorite Christmas song, and we'll start singing those, like I said, very soon. Our next song, "marching to Zion," 422. Here's a good one.

Alex in Alaska, heimo in austria, nikka in bahamas, cleonce and bob in brazil, tracee in California, stacey-ann in Canada, luis in england, anne in Georgia, bob and Paula in Idaho, chloe in jamaica, hazel in japan, the adventist international congregation in Jerusalem, Israel. This, I believe, is our first request out of over 10,000 from Jerusalem, so that is very exciting this morning. Tina in Montana, Michael in New York, jenny, jamie, vern and sandie in North Carolina, melvert in the Philippines, abel in puerto rico, alexa in saint vincent and the grenadines, steve and eun in south korea, susan in togo, trisha, tony, leslie in trinidad tobago, brian in the united kingdom and lee in West Virginia. 422, All 4 stanzas, "marching to Zion." [Music] We're Marching! Father in Heaven, we are Marching to Zion this morning. We're Marching to Zion because we love you.

We want to be there. And we want to take everybody that we can with us. We want to walk on those golden streets. We want to see you face-to-face. And I pray that the things of this world will not have such a stronghold on us, that we will miss out on the best opportunity that we could ever receive.

Father, we thank you so much for giving us that hope, and as Christians, we know that it's going to be very soon. We see the things that are going on around us in the church and the world, and we just, we get excited and at the same time fearful. And I pray that you will just give us the peace in our hearts, that love for you. And that every day we will just be coming more and more like you. We thank you for giving us that promise and assurance that with you all things are possible.

We pray that you'll be with us this morning as we open up Your Word and we study together with Pastor Doug. And we thank you so much for his ministry here at central. And of course he blesses so many people around the world as well. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time, our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our senior pastor here at central, Pastor Doug Batchelor.

Thank you debbie and jessica, cheri and our singers from modesto. We really appreciate them giving the stereo to The Song service today. I want to welcome all our friends who are here. Welcome our central members, visitors that may be here. I want to welcome the friends who are watching on satellite or the internet.

And we have a number of people who are actually members of Sacramento central that are stationed all different parts of the world because there is no church nearby they can attend. And every week they study with us on the internet, or they're watching on satellite. And we're very thankful that we're able to provide some connection with a church family to you. And we welcome you as well. We're in our Sabbath school study today.

And we have a free offer as always. The offer today is called "three steps to heaven," "three steps to heaven." And we'll send that to you just for asking. There's a phone number. It's 866-study-more. And when you call that number, toll-free number, ask for offer number 102.

And then we'll send you that book, "three steps to heaven." That will help enhance your Bible study along with our lesson today. We've been going through the quarterly dealing with "background characters in the old testament." And today we're on lesson number 9, and we're dealing with rizpah. And it's called, "the influence of faithfulness: rizpah." And this is based on principally four passages of Scripture: Deuteronomy 30:19, a section in 2 Samuel 3:6-11, 2 Samuel 21:1-9, and Mark 13:13. Now I'm just going to fess up right here at the beginning of the lesson. Last week we talked about joab, and there are about 130 references to joab in the Bible.

Today with rizpah, we've got four. Now joab speaks; rizpah never says a word. So you all pray for me, because we've got to really dig in this study today to learn what we can about rizpah, 'cause she never says anything. It's what she does that really gives us our content for the lesson. And then it really becomes a springboard to also talk about a number of other issues in the Bible that you often don't hear addressed.

And so I am actually looking forward to getting into some of these things. We have a memory verse: psalm 91:4. By the way, if I sound like I'm a little lower than normal, in Sacramento, this time of year all the pine trees explode with yellow powder. And we've got three of them in our backyard. And everything in our backyard right now has a film of yellow over it.

We're looking forward to the rain that's supposed to come tomorrow or Monday. But it's all around our house and so I think I have a little bit of allergic reaction to that yellow talcum all around our house right now. But I feel fine. I know I may not look fine, but I really feel fine. So I just want everyone to know that.

Yeah, and I can sing baritone right now. Alright, memory verse. I gave you the verse; we never read it. Psalm 91:4, and by the way, this is from the n.i.v. Version.

You ready? "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." That's a beautiful verse. Now the first section in our study talking about rizpah, it's talking about the King's concubine. Now anyone here have a concubine that you want to confess? Not too many people today have concubines. If they do, you don't hear about it until it comes out in the papers.

But concubines are a little more common in Bible times. Maybe I should say a word first about rizpah and the name. I always like to look at what a word means. Bible names often have meanings. Her name means "glowing coals or bread heated over coals or ashes.

" And that was common back then. They'd heat up the bread over the coals. And those glowing coals they'd use to bake the bread. It was called rizpah. It's interesting.

And so her name means bread coals or glowing coals. She was Saul's concubine. Now the Bible tells about Saul's wife, but it wasn't uncommon in Bible times for them to have other wives. Now one way they got these other wives is if they conquered another nation. Some of the nations in Israel, they were to kill everybody.

Remember when they conquered-- I know it sounds brutal. I'm just telling you what the Bible says. When they conquered Jericho, they weren't to spare anyone. When they went and they conquered the amalekites, they were given the command, "don't let anybody live." The people were diseased. They were given over to a vow to annihilate their enemies, and so any offspring, you could never really trust them.

Or anyone that was spared, they were sort of, they'd make a vow that they would attack you. And there's just no way ever to integrate them in your culture. But there were some nations, especially some of the other outlaying nations. The jews also if they conquered the amorites, edomites or moabites, were allowed to spare them because they were distant relatives of Israel. When that happened--well, let me read it the way it appears.

Turn in your Bibles to Deuteronomy 21, and we're going to read verse 10-14. Deuteronomy 21:10-14, "when you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hand, and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her and would take her for your wife, then you shall bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and trim her nails." Now some of that I think was just because some of these nations maybe there was-- for a purification purposes. Shave her head, trim her nails. "She shall put off the clothes of her captivity, and remain in your house, and mourn her father and mother a full month." Give her time to adjust to this terrible transition. She's been conquered.

It says, "and after that," "she shall be your wife." "You may go in to her as a husband, she shall be your wife. And it shall be, if you have no delight in her--" that would be adding insult to injury-- "then you'll set her free, but certainly you'll not sell her for money; 'cause you've treated her brutally, because you've humbled her--nor shall you treat her brutally, because you have humbled her." That was the law. Now that was just a common practice back then when they would conquer someone. Often the wives that were taken in captivity were concubines. They were not used or given the same status as the regular wives.

So rizpah was probably from-- it says here she was a hivite. It's--every time rizpah's name is mentioned, it says that she was from ahiah. It's sometimes ahijah, same word. And you find them first mentioned--this was The Son of zibeon in Genesis 36:14. They developed into the hivites that co-married with the edomites.

And so she was a distant relative. Now sometimes concubines, because they still had the allegiance to their former people, it could be a problem in any family. 1 Kings 11:13. I've got some verses you're going to help me read. Who did I give that to? 1 Kings 11:3, rather, 1 Kings 11:3.

Okay, back here. Hold your hand up and someone with a microphone will bring you a microphone. I'm going to give out another verse. Judges 20:4, Judges 20, did we give that to somebody? Judges 20:4, oh, that's back there also, not far away. Alright, why don't you start our reading for us 1 Kings 11:3.

1 Kings 11:3, "and he, Solomon, had seven-hundred wives, princesses, and three-hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart." He not only had a lot of concubines; he had a lot of wives. One of the purposes for the concubines was they were to have children that were considered the King's children and to ensure the continuance of the monarchy. And another thing to consider, back then they did not have medicare, medicaid, social security, unemployment. And your security as you aged was in your children that were to honor their father and mother and to care for you. And so part of your insurance for your retirement was to have a whole gaggle of children.

Now if you married somebody and they didn't start producing children fairly quickly, there was some apprehension. That's part of the reason henry viii had so many wives. None of them would have--several of them had problems having children and the ones who had children had girls. That's how queen elizabeth ended up taking the throne. Henry wanted so much to have a son.

Why do you think elkanah--he married hannah, he loved hannah, but she couldn't have children. So what did he do? Took an additional wife, peninnah. And you just see a lot of examples of this in the Bible. Abraham and hagar. And even--who suggested that? Abraham? Sarah did! She said, "well, I want you to be cared for in your old age, and who's going to be heir of all this? And God has withheld children from me so take my handmaid.

And it wasn't just Sarah. What did rachel do? She brought bilhah to Jacob. And when her sister Sarah--leah said, "I'm not having children anymore. I need to have children to catch up," she brought zilpah, her handmaid. And they were concubines.

So but The Sons of Jacob, did he discriminate between the children of the wives and the children of the concubines, or did he call them all his sons? They were all called his sons. He gave preferential treatment to Joseph, because he loved rachel. But they were all considered sons. And so that's just giving you a little backdrop for what's going on here. Well, Saul, not only had a wife, but he had rizpah.

Now this dear woman, boy, she had a tough lot. Oh, I gave someone out Judges 20:4. Why don't you go ahead and read that for us? Judges 20:4. Judges 20:4, "so the levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, 'my concubine and I went into gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin, to spend the night.'" Alright, now these husbands often showed a lot of respect for their concubines. This story that you find in Judges, very disturbing story.

But it's just a concubine played the harlot, but he loved her and he went to Bethlehem to pursue her. By the way, that's an analogy of Christ. It's talking about how Jesus comes pursuing his church, right? And so here it says, "the husband, my concubine." And so even though she was a concubine, he was referred to as her husband. And so the relationship was intimate, but the concubines didn't always have the same status. I went into a Bible dictionary, and bear with me, I don't like to just read definitions for people, but this is probably worthwhile.

"Concubine: in the Bible it denotes a female conjugally united with a man, but inferior to that of a wife. Among the early jews, the difference between a wife and a concubine was less Marked than it would be among us. The concubine was a wife of secondary rank. There are various laws recorded providing for their protection, and setting limits on the relation they sustained to the household to which they belonged. They had little authority in the family, nor could they share in the household government.

" By the way, the firstborn son, if it happened to be from the concubine, Moses said he was to be treated as the firstborn even though it was from a concubine rather than from a regular wife. "The immediate cause of concubinage--" that's a new word for me-- "might be gathered from the conjugal histories of Abraham and Jacob." In other words, they used Abraham and Jacob as an excuse for this continued behavior. But how did extra wives work out in the household of Abraham? Did it make things happier, or did it cause a lot of heartache? Now it talks about Abraham's concubine. Someone read for me Genesis 25:6. Genesis 25:6, "but Abraham gave gifts to The Sons of the concubines which abram had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east.

" Alright, so it says he gave everything to Isaac, but he gave gifts to The Sons of the concubines. Now can you name the concubines of Abraham? I just mentioned one. Hagar. The next one was keturah. When you think about the miracle of Abraham having a son in his old age, was the miracle really Abraham having a son? Or did he get married again after Sarah and he had another whole litter of kids? Have you read about that? With keturah.

The real miracle was with Sarah being past the time of bearing. And so anyway but all of the other children from the concubines, meaning hagar and keturah, he provided well for them, but he said the main promise and the inheritance was to go to Isaac. Moses later said they weren't to repeat that behavior, but if a man took a wife and he took a concubine, the concubine had the firstborn, he was to get the right to the firstborn. So that's interesting. Alright, now we're going to look at something else, just giving you a background that this was--rizpah was the concubine of Saul.

She already had a hard time because she feels like she's wife number two. I don't know anybody that would apply for that job. In the Bible, whenever that happened, leah felt left out. She was miserable because she said you really wanted my sister, you didn't want me. There was a dispute between hannah and peninnah, conflict there between hagar and Sarah, even rachel and leah.

You just go through the Bible, it never worked out well. Someone said, "show one verse that says a man can't have more than one wife. And I told you of course it says, "no man can serve two masters." And so we know it doesn't work out. Now she lost her husband. It would already--it would be tough to be married to Saul, because here he's moody.

You know, once he sort of grieved away the Holy Spirit, he just became a little bit bipolar. And he had these big mood swings. They'd bring in David, he'd play for him. Ultimately Saul, he just went on the war path to try and hunt down David. He neglected the Kingdom, neglected fighting the philistines, and he's fighting David, 'cause he's so threatened with his position.

He probably wasn't really happy at home. Anyone here want to be married to Saul? Get angry and throws a spear. Threw a spear at his own sons, jonathan. He was moody. Ultimately he grieves away the Holy Spirit, goes to a witch, falls on a sword, kills himself.

And in one day, Saul dies, jonathan dies, melchishua and I forget the third, the name of Saul's third son. His three sons die and he dies a suicide. And rizpah now has lost that. And then, basically there's a civil war to see who's going to be king. So she's been through a lot to, you know, lose any status that she may have had even as a concubine.

Now abner, after Saul dies there is a battle between the tribes of Israel. Judah and Benjamin are sort of--they're loyal to David. And they're thinking David should be king now. And they bring him to reign in hebron. But Saul who was from benjamite, and the other tribes in the north, they said, "no, we want to keep following the house of Saul.

" So you got David and joab, and then you got abner, the general of Saul and kind of a weak son of Saul. He was really too young. The valiant sons of Saul all died in that battle, ishbosheth. And the civil war goes on for a few years, about 3 years. And rizpah's sort of in the background of all this.

Her husband has died. And now she's accused. I don't know. There was probably some cause for this. It could be that abner felt sorry for her.

He maybe felt some affection. He may have stopped to try and encourage her, because she had, you know, lost so much. And it says here now in 2 Samuel is where you find this story. 2 Samuel 3:7-11, "and Saul had a concubine, whose name was rizpah, the daughter of aiah." And now that aiah is also found in Genesis, aijah, same person. "So ishbosheth says to abner, 'why have you gone in to my father's concubine?'" Ishbosheth was probably a little insecure that he was going to lose the throne.

But I'll get to that in just a minute. No, maybe I'll get to that now. Someone read for us 1 Kings 2:17. Did we give that to somebody? I got a hand over here. 1 Kings 2:17.

And you'll see why that there was a lot of insecurity about that, ishbosheth would even accuse abner of something like that. Are we ready? Go ahead. 1 Kings 2:17, "then he said, 'please speak to king Solomon, for he will not refuse you, that he may give me abishag the shunammite as a wife.'" Alright, does everyone remember that king David, when he got old, he evidently had some circulation problems or congestive heart failure. And whatever it was, he just was cold all the time. He just couldn't get warm.

And they didn't have electric blankets back then. And someone suggested, "well, you know, the King is constantly cold. Why don't we find a beautiful young virgin, and let him take her." You'd think he could just take one of his other wives. But they'd kind of grown old with him, I guess, and didn't have the same circulation. And so they said, you know, get some pretty young thing, let her snuggle the King and keep him warm.

That's exactly what they did. So they didn't look very long, and they found the shunammites. They were a people lived in the north. You remember the shunammite woman that Elisha stayed with. They're supposed to be very intelligent, good-looking.

And just I don't want to take this too far, but if you read The Song of Solomon, the whole Song of Solomon is written about Solomon evidently and a shunammite woman that he's in love with. And it could be that Solomon also fell in love with this young woman. Now it says that David never knew her. She was strictly... It was a clinical need.

And to just really keep the King warm. So if you took one of the King's wives, after the King died, you were sort of trying to set yourself up for the throne. That often still happens that the spouse can be the corridor to power. Some of you remember when aquino--i can't remember the gentleman's name. I remember his wife's name.

He was running for president or he was campaigning against marcos in the Philippines and he was assassinated when he got off the plane. Most people think marcos was behind it. And it looked like it was all over. And everyone said to the wife, "you should run." No experience in politics at all. And she ran, corazon aquino, and she became president.

That's happened several times. Sometimes you got senators that die, and next thing you know, their wives are running. Well, adonijah, after Solomon was installed, remember he wanted to be king. And he goes to bathsheba, and he says, "look, you know, abishag, she never slept with David. She's a beautiful woman.

She's now sequestered in the palace. I'd love to take her as wife. Can you talk to Solomon?" Solomon recognized, "oh, you want to take my father's wife so you can kind of lay claim to the throne. And you're going to maybe plot a coup or an assassination. I know what you're up to.

" By the way, when absalom tried to overthrow his father, what did he do to seal among the people that there was no going back? He slept with David's concubines. That's kind of hideous thing to think about. At least abishag was still a virgin, but he slept with his--and then David never went back into 'em again when he got his kingdom back. You remember that? So this was sometimes an appeal to power. And so when ishbosheth saw abner treating rizpah fondly, what do think he thought? "I'm a weak king.

I'm young. Abner's got the strength. How easy would it be for him to take rizpah, kill me, and be the new king of Israel?" So you can understand his insecurity. But abner wasn't thinking that way. He was just--he was just-- he was being loyal to Saul.

He felt, abner and Saul, he followed them for years, they were friends. With all his problems, he was a friend of Saul's. And he thought, you know, "in memory of Saul, I am going to install one of Saul's sons as king." And he didn't have to do that. He would have taken the throne right then, when Saul was dead. But in honor to his friend, maybe he had made a promise, he said, "I will make sure one of your sons sits on the throne.

" And so after doing all that for him, to have this young whippersnapper say, "you're messing around with my father's concubine," abner blew a gasket at that point. You go back to 2 Samuel 3, and I think this is verse 10, "abner became very angry at the words of ishbosheth. And he said, 'I am a dog's head that belongs to judah?'" He says, "don't you realize how judah--I'm the one that's fighting off this kingdom that wants to take your throne." "Today I show loyalty to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hand of David." At any point I could have turned you over to David." He says, "here I've done all this to try and make you king, as spineless as you are." He was young and inexperienced. He ended up being assassinated by some of Saul's servants. "And delivered you--" he said--where am i? "To his friends and have not delivered you into the hand of David; and you charge me today with a fault concerning this woman? May God do so to abner, and more also, if I do not do for David as the Lord has sworn to him.

" He says, "David already promised it. the Lord already promised to David that he would be king. And we may as well just surrender to that and I'm going to hand over the Kingdom to him since you've accused me of this." Wow, that must have made him a little insecure. "If I do not do for David as the Lord has sworn to him, to transfer the Kingdom from the house of Saul, and set up the throne of David over Israel and over judah, from dan to beersheba." "And he could not answer abner another word, because he feared him." So what's happening here now is rizpah is going from not even being a widowed concubine in what's left of Saul's kingdom. She's now watching because of this false accusation the whole kingdom being transferred to David.

And what would her status be then? Nothing. No income, no anything. And so she's seeing everything being taken away from her. You put yourself in the place of some of these background characters, and it's pretty tough. Yeah, let me see.

We'll go over to that now. "An eye for an eye, a convenient solution." Now this is a difficult passage, but I'm glad that we can study it because a lot of people have misunderstood this. Turn in your Bibles. This is a whole section here we need to read. Turn in your Bibles to 2 Samuel 21:1-2, 2 Samuel 21--well, I'll read actually several verses.

"Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year." And of course that makes--that hurts the economy, it hurts the food, it hurts the people, and it must have been a pretty heavy famine. Now typically when there were famines in Israel--when there was a famine for 3 1/2 years in the days of Elijah it was because of what? It was the global warming? Was it just an environmental cycle? Was it meteorological problems? Was it the burning of the rainforest? What caused the famine in the days of--you know, when we think of dry spells today, we blame everything except God, right? What was the famine caused by? They turned away from the Lord. You know, there is that passage in 2 Chronicles that says, "if my people, which are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, I will forgive their sin and heal their land." What does it mean, "heal their land?" The blessings of God on the land that gives life. If there's a famine, everything dies. There's no food, everything goes bad.

And he says he healed their land. You know, we just came out of a famine--a famine--we just came out of a drought in California. This last year was a good year for rain. Several years before that, we were struggling with fires and dry weather. But I just watch these things in the Bible, I wonder does God still send rain, or we're too sophisticated to believe now that that could ever--that the blessings of the land could ever be connected with the sins of the people or the faith of the people? Is there a connection biblically? That's if you believe the Bible.

So David begins to wonder. First he just thinks, "well, you know, we have good years and bad years." But now David's wondering, "maybe there's a spiritual connection, because this is a severe, it's a lasting famine. Maybe it's because of our sins." And so it lasted 3 years. "And David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord said, 'it is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the gibeonites.

'" Now what does that mean? First of all, his battle against the gibeonites, that attack is not recorded anywhere in Bible history, or in history. But all you got to do is read that and say, "evidently Saul attacked the gibeonites. What's wrong with that? Well, God had made a vow back in the days of Joshua, a covenant to protect these people. Does God forget his promises? Go to the book of Joshua 9. No, I didn't distribute this verse, but someone read for me, Joshua 9:15, Joshua 9:15.

We got--andrew's got his hand up here. And this is the whole story, you need to read all of Joshua 9 to get the whole story of the gibeonites and how they sort of tricked Israel into making a covenant with them, that they would protect them and let them dwell among them. And the trick worked, and they made a promise. Go ahead, andrew, read 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 swear unto them.

" Alright, so the gibeonites, they were connected with the hivites, which by the way, are also the people of rizpah, that's what we read a moment ago. They had made a covenant with them that they would protect them. And Joshua honored it so much that when this confederacy of nations came to attack the gibeonites, Joshua went to defend them. And so they said, "you are our people. You are our servants.

And we're going to protect you like we would any employee." And they were to work in the temple of God. They were to draw water and cut firewood to keep the laver full of water and to keep the fire burning on the altar. And they were part of the Israelites. Well Saul, he said, "ah, they're foreigners. Who knows what came over him.

He was moody and irrational and erratic. And he attacked the gibeonites unprovoked evidently and just slaughtered 'em. Didn't kill 'em all, but just attacked them. Well, God made a note of that. Now when God says something in His Word, after 50 years, he said, "okay, there's a statute of limitations.

Your sin does not apply anymore." Is that how God operates? There's a statute of limitations for many things in our country, right? Certain laws, they say, "after 7 years, you know, if you're able to dodge the draft, then we'll let you go." Who knows, there's different laws, they got different statues of limitations where you could file a complaint. There is no statute of limitations on some things. And there is no statute of limitation on the promises of God. You remember when Jesus left the temple, he said to the religious leaders as he left, "behold your house is left unto you desolate. And all of the blood from abel unto Zechariah The Son of barachia will I require of this generation.

So when the Romans came to Jerusalem, have you ever read that horrific account of-- the book, "Great Controversy" begins with it. The destruction of Jerusalem, it is awful. I mean, there were mountains of bodies. Blood was streaming out of the temple. Crosses were like a forest of those crucified.

There was a terrible judgment that fell on the people. And God said, "look, I've been making note. And I'm going to require it of this generation." You know there's a statement, I forget the verse; someone might look it up and remind me. It's in Ecclesiastes, and it says, "because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of The Sons of men are fully set in them to do evil." Because God is patient, we misinterpret his patience that he's forgotten. He doesn't forget.

And even though Saul was dead and gone, God was going to require a punishment for what had happened. So let me read on now. And it's because of Saul, verse 2, I'm once again in 2 Samuel 21:2. It says, "so the King called the gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but they were the remnant of the amorites; the children of Israel had sworn protection to them, but Saul had sought to kill them and in his zeal for the children of Israel and of judah.

" Saul was going out just kind of fighting everyone indiscriminately. "Therefore David said to the gibeonites, 'what shall I do for you? And by what means shall I make atonement, that you may bless the inheritance of the Lord?" How can we obtain forgiveness? What do you say? "And the gibeonites said, 'we will have neither silver nor gold from Saul or his house, nor shall you kill any man in Israel for us.'" In other words, don't just kill among the people. He said, "'whatever you say, that will I do.' So they answered to the King and they said, 'the man who consumed us and plotted against us, that we should be destroyed from the remnant--from remaining in any of the territories of Israel, let seven men of his descendants be delivered to us, and we will hang them before the Lord in gibeah of Saul, whom the Lord chose." "And the King said, 'I will give them.' 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. "So the King took armoni and mephibosheth--" now this is same name, mephibosheth the uncle of mephibosheth, jonathan's son, "the two sons of rizpah," so two of her blood children were among the seven picked, "the daughter of aiah, whom she bore to Saul, and the five sons of michal. Now this is--this is actually a typo in the King James translation.

It's merab. Michal had no children. It says that other places in the Bible, even by the other husband she had beside David. She was barren to her death. But what happened is her sister had children.

Michal adopted her sister's children and raised them, 'cause maraba died. Okay? "The five sons of michal, the daughter of Saul, who she brought up for adriel--" merab's husband. You got that? So she basically was the aunt, michal the first wife of David that Saul gave to David, she helped raise these five boys of her sister's. "The Son of barzillai the meholathite; and delivered them into the hands of the gibeonites, and hanged them on the hill before the Lord. So they fell, all seven together, and they were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of the barley harvest.

" Now I'll stop there. Does God endorse human sacrifice? Doesn't this sound like they're saying, "in order for me to send the rain, you gotta do human sacrifice. Throw them in the volcano. Cut out their hearts like the aztecs." Who was it? The Hawaiians that said, "throw 'em in pele." "Throw 'em in the volcano. Human sacrifice? Is that what we're doing here? Well was Jesus a human sacrifice? If you don't get the rest of the story here, I think it causes serious problems.

Did God call for human sacrifice when he told Abraham to take his son? Did he let him sacrifice Isaac? What about jeptha, his daughter? He said, "whatever comes out of my gates, I will offer unto you. When I come home, a burnt offering." So his daughter came out and it says, "he did unto her as he had said." Did he offer his daughter? No. The way that you offered a human was you offered an animal in its place, and they were then consecrated to the Lord. And it says that the daughter--the friends of jeptha's daughter went to visit her yearly at the temple. You remember it tells us about anna who had consecrated herself to the Lord.

She could--jeptha's daughter could never marry. And jeptha mourned because he would now have no children 'cause she was his only daughter. So they didn't practice human sacrifice. So why were these sons of Saul given over? Well you read in adam clarke's commentary, and I agree with him on this one. "These boys, meaning The Sons and grandsons or other near branches of his family, it is understood that these persons chosen were principle in assisting Saul to exterminate the gibeonites.

" They had been accomplices in encouraging Saul to kill them. And then according to the law, there was to be vengeance for that. Let me read it to you. Deuteronomy 19:10, this helps it all come together. "Lest innocent blood be shed in the midst of your land, which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and thus guilt of bloodshed be upon you--" that's where there'd be a plague and a famine.

"If anyone hates his neighbor, and lies in wait for him and rises against him and strikes him mortally that he dies, and he flees to one of these cities, then the elders of the city shall send and bring him from there and deliver him over to the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. Your eye will not pity him, but you will put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel." The gibeonites were innocent. Saul and his sons and grandsons during some rampage, maybe he couldn't find David and he went after them. They went and they killed the gibeonites. These sons and grandsons had been accomplices in that.

That's why they were handpicked. That's why the gibeonites said, "we're not looking for money. A lot of people when they sue, they say, "oh, you know, this person, what they did, it was terrible to us." They said, "well, what do you want? Do you want to go to jail?" "No, but we want money." They wanted justice and they were following the law of Moses that said if innocent blood was slain, they were to be handed over to the avengers of blood, the gibeonites in this case; they could be executed. And that's what happened. Does that make sense? It's wasn't in--they weren't just arbitrarily saying, "we want human sacrifice because of what Saul had done.

" Now doesn't the Bible say, "The Son will not bear the guilt of The Father, and The Father will not--" Ezekiel 18:20, "the soul that sins will die. The Son will not bear the guilt of The Father, nor The Father bear the guilt of The Son. The righteousness of the righteous will be on him. The wickedness of the wicked will be upon him." The only way you can reconcile this biblically is that those sons and grandsons of Saul had been involved in some way as accomplices in attacking the gibeonites. That works for me.

I hope it works for you. But now, what about poor rizpah? What's she going through? Lost her husband, the stepchildren, her children. What does she do about that? They hang them before the Lord. And they basically leave their bodies during the harvest out there, hung from the trees, seven of them, to appease the wrath of God somehow. And they're waiting for the rain to come.

"And rizpah the daughter of aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock," near the tree where they're hung there's a rock, "from the beginning of harvest until the late rains poured on them from heaven. This must have been for several weeks. And she did not allow the birds of the air to rest on them nor the beasts of the field by night. When the birds or beast of carrion tried to come after these bodies, she stayed awake, probably had very little sleep, 24 hours a day, probably with a stick or something, and drove them all away to protect the remains of her children and their siblings, or their kin. And David heard about that, and he said, "look, we need to do something for her.

" "When David was told," verse 11, I'm still in 2 Samuel 21, "David was told what rizpah the daughter of aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done. And David went and took the bones--" by the way, it says they left them there until rain came. Eventually the rain came. But before the rain came, this is the harvest. She's wearing mourning.

What color is that? Black. She's out there in hottest time of the year wearing mourning clothing, sweating, exposed, out on a rock, just watching over the remains of her children. That's the example of faithfulness there and a love that endures beyond death. "And David when he heard this, he took away the bones of Saul, and the bones of jonathan his son--" by the way, how did David feel when the remains--we're going to talk just a moment here about human remains. Should they be treated with respect? Why? They're dead.

I mean I've heard people say, "ah, you know, once they're dead, lights out, it's just dirt. Doesn't matter what you do. Throw it in a ditch." Why do Americans go to foreign countries where soldiers have been found dead, and they fly their remains home? Well, I think that when people cease to show respect for the human form that is made in the image of God, you've lost something sacred. Now am I going to make a statement here about the benefits of cremation over burial? Well biblically, the majority of the time, it's a regular burial. There's a couple of examples.

Saul's son jonathan was cremated. Do you expect to see him in the Kingdom? Cremation will not prevent you from being resurrected. Some people think if you grind a human body up enough and spread it to the wind or throw it in a stream that God won't find all the pieces and he can't put him back together again. God is not doing it that way. And he could speak anybody back into existence again.

That's not a problem for him. But what she did was unique. When Saul and jonathan had been pinned to the walls of beth-shan and the men of jabesh-gilead showed respect. And they went and risked their lives to remove, the day after the battle, they went to take the remains of Saul and the remains of his sons. They brought them down and they brought them back to gilgal I think it was.

Well, how did David respond? Was he moved by that? He was. And he blessed those men for their courage and for showing respect for the remains of Saul and his family. And there's more to it than that. How did David feel about Saul? He was the Lord's anointed, the Lord's anointed. You remember they told David several times, "you have a chance to kill him.

" He said, "how can you lift your hand against the Lord's anointed?" And he wouldn't do it. Matter of fact, one time after Saul killed himself, there was an amalekite who pretended that he killed the King. He got the crown and the bracelet, brought them to David, concocted this story that he had killed Saul, and he thought he'd get rewarded. He said, "Saul was trying to kill you, David, and now you're going to be king. I'm giving you the crown.

I killed him. Do I get a reward?" And he said, "yeah, you do get a reward." He had him killed on the spot. He said, "how come you weren't afraid to lift your hand against the Lord's anointed? Now, you know, the Bible talks about us respecting people that are called. And I think we ought to respect people in positions of leadership that are called by the Lord. Sometimes you'll get stuck with a pastor, and maybe you think, "oh man, is there anyone else?" And it's real easy for people to speak against their leaders.

How does the Lord feel about us when we lift our hand against his anointed? Even Saul, Paul in the new testament, when he called the high priest a whited sepulchre, but Paul needed glasses. He didn't know who it was. And the guard said, "are you reviling God's high priest?" And Paul said, "oh, I didn't know who that was. I'm not supposed to speak against the Lord's anointed." He rebuked himself for doing that. Didn't he? Remember? But it goes beyond that.

Who do the anointed represent? What does the word "Christ" mean? What does the word "Christ" mean? Cristos is Greek for "the anointed." It's the Messiah, the anointed. And so in showing respect for the remains of the anointed and his children, for the body of the anointed and his children, what does that represent? Who had the great honor of seeing Jesus rise first? Who was the last at the tomb to leave? Mary. Do you remember when Jesus appeared? She said, "if you've born away his remains, tell me and I will take care of his remains. She showed respect for the remains of the Lord. And then Jesus revealed herself to her.

Does God care how we treat the human body? By the way, the church is the body of Christ, right? And so this is, you know, in our culture today, I think that we've lost appreciation for some things that are sacred. And man made in the image of God, I think that there is to be a respect that's shown. And when we take our kids, sometimes we'll go to a cemetery because it's a service, or we might even go as a picnic. You ever heard someone say, "don't stand on the graves." You ever heard someone? It used to be taught that. There was to be a gravestone falls over, stand it back up again.

Show respect, because these people were made in the image of God. And it's a time to show respect. That's--even Solomon said, "better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting. I think when people cease to show respect, they've lost something sacred. They've lost something divine at that time.

So here you've got The Son of David, who is blessing this woman for showing respect for the anointed. You actually see that played out again in the cross. There were certain women at the cross that oversaw how Jesus' body was cared for. And all of that makes us think of rizpah. She is a woman; she is a symbol of the church.

And concubine, she's part Israel, part edomite, part gentile. And it kind of represents the church today. When David knew that, "he took away the bones of Saul and the bones of jonathan his son from the men of jabesh-gilead that had stolen them from the street of beth-shan," where the philistines had hung them, after the philistines struck down Saul. "So he brought up the bones of Saul and the bones of jonathan his son from there; and they gathered the bones of those who had been hanged," all the other sons and grandsons of Saul. "They buried the bones of Saul and jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in zelah, in the tomb of kish his father.

So they performed all the King's command. And after that God heeded the prayer of the land." What do you think that means? They poured out the rain again. The blessing of the land came again because justice had been cared for. But God still wanted them to care for the remains too. So there you've got poor rizpah.

She had a tough life, didn't she? And you think David gave her an allowance and took care of her? I think he did, just like he did for mephibosheth. I think he felt some obligation there. Hey, don't forget, friends. We're out of time for our study. We do have a free offer.

If you've missed it, it's called, "three steps to heaven." We'll send it to you just for asking. Call that number: 866-study-more. And we'll be happy to share that with you. It's offer number 102.

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