2 Sam. 20-21: “The Revolt Of
1.1. In our last study, we looked at chapters 18 and 19.
1.1.1. We saw that when David and his men went into battle against Absalom and his forces that Absalom was killed in battle.
1.1.2. We saw then the process that
occurred as David was accepted back to
1.2. In our study today, we are going to look at chapters 20 and 21.
1.2.1. We are nearing the very end of the reign of King David. We are winding down and learning about the events that marked his life as he was now an old man and losing his strength.
1.2.2. Even in his old age, David is still suffering the consequences of his sins for the sword has not departed from his house (2 Sam. 12:10) and he faces yet another revolt to take over the kingdom from him.
1.2.3. In chapter 20, another
rebellion to take over the kingdom breaks out as a man named
1.2.4. In chapter 21, there is a
flashback to the early part of the reign of David when the nation of
2. VS 20:1-2 - “1 Now a worthless
fellow happened to be there whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a
Benjamite; and he blew the trumpet and said, “We have no portion in David, Nor
do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; Every man to his tents, O Israel!” 2
So all the men of
We saw in our last study that contention had arisen when David returned
to reign as king after Absalom, the son of David, was killed and his rebellion
squashed. At that time, the 10 tribes of
The scripture tells us in Prov. 15:1 a very important principle which
we are wise to live by, “1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, But
a harsh word stirs up anger.” The men of
We discussed in that last study also that if Israel was so glad to have
David back as their king then why should they worry about who brought him
back? Now, we find out where the hearts
and motivations of
2.4. The Israelites are a living example of the fickleness of men in general.
2.4.1. How many people have we seen in our day come into the church and confess that they have committed their lives to Christ and they love Him and are living their life for Him, and yet when some trials or temptations come their way instead of persevering in their faith and looking to the Lord for strength and help they leave the fellowship of believers and begin to live a life compromising with sin, Satan, and the world?
It is nice here to see
2.7. So, David has more difficulties in his life now as yet another revolt against his throne comes about. Is it not always true in our lives as Christians that not too long of a time passes before we run into difficulties and trials at the hand of the Lord. Mark Twain once said, “Life is just one darned thing after another.”
3. VS 20:3 - “3 Then David came to his house at Jerusalem, and the king took the ten women, the concubines whom he had left to keep the house, and placed them under guard and provided them with sustenance, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as widows.” - David placed his 10 concubines under guard and provided sustenance for them, yet he never had relations with them again
During his insurrection, Absalom, David’s son, had at the counsel of
Ahithophel and in the sight of all
4. VS 20:4-10 - “
4 Then the king said to Amasa, “Call out the men of
4.1. We saw in our last study that Amasa was David’s nephew (1 Chron. 2:17). Yet, he had been the general that Absalom, David’s son, had chosen to lead his army after Absalom had created the insurrection to take the throne away from his father.
4.2. Amasa though was not nearly the fighting man and general of Joab, the man who had previously been placed over all of David’s army. Not only this but he has problems getting an army called together within a given and realistic timeframe.
We looked in our last study at how over time that Joab had become
bitter towards David and had ceased to carry out David’s wishes as king, and
instead was living for himself and his own agenda. Joab needed to be replaced, however because
of the popularity and power base of Joab, David had no easy way to replace
him. But, when David had appealed to
4.4. Remember, Joab was also a nephew of David’s. Joab was the son of Zeruiah, David’s half sister (2 Sam. 2:18). Joab and Amasa were cousins therefore.
4.5. The treachery and brutality of Joab is stunning. He is a man who neither feared God or man. When he sees Amasa, Joab feigns showing that kind of filial love common in the middle east at this time by pulling on cousin Amasa’s beard and kissing Amasa’s cheek, however he just uses this opportunity to grab the small sword attached to his waist and to stab Amasa in the gut and spill out his innards on the ground.
4.6. We see here also that though Abishai is commissioned by David to get some men together to go after Sheba that it is Joab and the Cherethites and the Pelethites all of the mighty men that pursue Sheba.
5. VS 20:11-13 - “11 Now there stood by
him one of Joab’s young men, and said, “Whoever favors Joab and whoever is for
David, let him follow Joab.” 12 But Amasa lay wallowing in his
blood in the middle of the highway. And when the man saw that all the
people stood still, he removed Amasa from the highway into the field and threw
a garment over him when he saw that everyone who came by him stood still. 13
As soon as he was removed from the highway, all the men passed on after
Joab to pursue
The men are stunned to see Joab murder general Amasa in cold blood
before them, especially in light of the fact that David had appointed Amasa as his
general and commissioned Amasa to assemble an army to fight against
5.2. One of ‘Joab’s young men’ uses psychology on all of the men telling them that if they favor David and Joab then they must now follow Joab as he goes into battle against Sheba. I think that if David had seen Joab murder Amasa he would have looked at things from a much different perspective than what this young man of Joab’s proposes.
5.3. All of the men though are paralyzed and cannot leave and go into battle as they see Amasa wallowing in his blood. Seeing this, this young man of Joab’s drags Amasa’s body off of the highway. Then, the men follow Joab and pursue Amasa.
5.4. Note here that by being murdered Amasa received the consequence for his sins in siding with Absalom in his previous insurrection attempt against King David. The Lord is always working in our world providentially as He is behind all of the scenes in our world and in our lives, even when the wicked triumph momentarily.
6. VS 20:16-22 - “14 Now he went
through all the tribes of
This wise woman from the city of
6.2. Joab then tells the woman that he does not desire to swallow up or destroy the people of the city but is just chasing a bad man who has lifted up his hands against King David, Sheba. The woman tells Joab that they will throw the man’s head over the wall of the city, which they do, ending the seige.
7. VS 20:23-26 - “23 Now Joab was over
the whole army of Israel, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the
Cherethites and the Pelethites; 24 and Adoram was over the forced
labor, and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder; 25 and
Sheva was scribe, and Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 26 and Ira
the Jairite was also a priest to David.” - The
officers in the newly re-established
Notice that because Joab killed Amasa he again is over the entire army
8. VS 21:1-9 - “1 Now there was a
famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought
the presence of the Lord. And the Lord said, “It is for Saul and his
bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” 2 So the king
called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the
In Joshua chapter 9 we read the story of how after the battles of
Jericho and Ai that a group came to Joshua disguised as weary travelers from a
long journey who had come because they had heard about the great things that
Joshua had done and they wanted to honor him and make a covenant of peace with
him. Joshua was taken in by the deceit
of the Gibeonites and made a covenant of peace with them. However, he later learned that the Gibeonites
don’t live far away but rather are near neighbors in the
8.2. It appears that the events of this story actually occurred early during the reign of David, not after the late date that the events in chapter 20 occured.
Even though we have no account in the scriptures of this event, we
learn here that Saul sometime during his reign attacked the unarmed and trusting
Gibeonites and killed many of them. Saul
had been commissioned to go and to fight the Philistines, however he balked at
this command, however now we find out that Saul went and killed those whom the
Lord had not commissioned him to kill, the Gibeonites. Perhaps because the Gibeonites were so
vulnerable Saul killed them just because he could do it plus he knew that he
was supposed to go and attack someone.
8.4. There are a couple of spiritual principles revealed in God’s word that these verses reinforce to us :
8.4.1. The Lord does in fact judge nations and hold nations accountable for their actions.
22.214.171.124. The Old Testament books of the major and minor prophets reveal judgment after judgment that is leveled against the nations of the world because of their sins in turning away from the Lord as well as their persecution of God’s people.
126.96.36.199. Michael Schluter in a paper
he has written says, “God judges nations within time, just as he judges
individuals outside time.” In the
same article he also quotes
188.8.131.52. J. Vernon McGee wrote, “God
does deal with nations; he does judge
nations. God holds nations
responsible—it does not make any difference what nation it is. God judged
184.108.40.206. I believe that the problem
that America currently has with terrorists as well as the “9/11” attack has
come about because of the Lord judging America because we as a nation have been
moving farther and farther away from being a Christian nation and honoring God
as a nation. Since we have taken God out
of our constitution and our government, it is no wonder that God allows us to
suffer judgment as a nation. We as a
nation make it legal to kill babies, we live in extreme materialism, we make it
illegal for kids to pray in schools, etc., etc., etc. Should we not expect that
God should judge
8.4.2. God does not forget about our sins, that is, until we confess and repent of them.
220.127.116.11. Interestingly, even though
18.104.22.168. We Christians need to realize that though we may go on in our life after committing sins thinking that everything is going to be alright and we are going to have the Lord’s blessing, that until we repent of those sins and have them covered in the blood of Jesus that we too are going to be hindered from having the Lord’s blessing in our lives. We must apply 1 John 1:9 to our sins whenever we realize that we have committed them : confess, repent, and then His blood will cover our transgressions and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
8.5. As the sin of one man, Achan, had caused the nation of Israel to be defeated at Ai, when in the book of Joshua they were conquering the land of Canaan, so also here the sin of Saul has brought difficulty in the form of famine upon the entire nation. Just one person can cause the chastening hand of the Lord to fall upon His people.
8.6. As with Saul, there is much misguided zeal for the Lord in our day today. Horrible atrocities throughout history have been done in the Name of the Lord. Today, those claiming to be Christians are often involved in causes and actions that the Lord has not called or commanded them to do. Churches often get caught up in many things that have nothing to do with what the scriptures tell us we have been commissioned to do. We in the church have the responsibility of keeping the “main thing” the “main thing” in the church. The gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection and preaching this gospel to all nations making disciples of them is what our function in this world is to be.
After 3 years of famine David finally came to recognize that the famine
was coming about from the hand of the Lord because of
8.7.1. For us as Christians, it is so often the case that when we finally come to the Lord in prayer and contrition for help concerning our difficulties that it is after we have endured huge and needless suffering. The hymn that we sing tells it just like it is for us, “Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
8.7.2. It is a very wise thing for us as God’s people to realize that we need to “seek the Lord early in our crises,” for if we do this we will save ourselves much suffering and difficulty.
8.8. The word for ‘son’ in these verses can refer in the scriptures to sons, grandsons, or even great grandsons. It was the grandsons and great grandsons of Saul who were slain because of the murder of the Gibeonites.
8.9. The Old Testament prohibited the punishing a son for the sins of his father (Deut. 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; Ezek. 18:1-4, 14-17), however it is intimated here by the house being called a “bloody house” that these grandsons of Saul were possibly involved in the murder of the Gibeonites.
8.10. The Hebrew word used in 21:6 for ‘hang’ actually means “to expose a dead body to public view.” Thus, it appears that these men were executed in some sort of a way such a way as to expose their dead bodies to continual public humiliation.
8.11. Because of David’s commitment to Jonathan, Saul’s son who was David’s ally and who was killed in battle along with Saul, David spares Mephibosheth’s life, as Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son whom David had invited to come and live with David in his palace and eat at the king’s table. Another Mephibosheth is however among these 7 men who are executed.
8.12. The Gibeonites reveal their noble character in several ways in our story :
8.12.1. They did not get the attention of King David to carry out justice on their behalf by lobbying him. Rather they quietly waited upon the Lord to bring about His vengeance, which He eventually did by bringing about a famine to get the king’s attention.
22.214.171.124. Rom. 12:19 tells us to never take our own revenge but to leave room for the wrath of God, “19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”
8.12.2. They could have asked for huge financial compensation, but they do not. Instead they only require a small emblem of justice for the wrong done to them.
126.96.36.199. The scriptures tell us as Christians that we are not to be suing our brothers and sisters in the legal courts but to take matters before the church and let the church leaders make decisions in our cases when we feel we have been wronged. However, today we are living in a greedy “sue happy” world and even Christians often sue each other, however these actions by Christians are a blight upon the church.
188.8.131.52.1. 1 Cor. 6:1-8 exhorts us in regard to suing brothers and sisters in Christ, “1 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? 4 So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, 6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.”
8.12.3. They require that only 7 men should suffer for the many killed at the hands of Saul. Perhaps they also realized from the scriptures that 7 was the number for perfection and thus they determined that 7 men could suffer and bring about the justice due them.
9. VS 21:10-14 - “10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until it rained on them from the sky; and she allowed neither the birds of the sky to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night. 11 When it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, 12 then David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the open square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them on the day the Philistines struck down Saul in Gilboa. 13 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. 14 They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zela, in the grave of Kish his father; thus they did all that the king commanded, and after that God was moved by prayer for the land.” - The mother of two of the young men who were hanged stays with the exposed bodies of the 7 young men, protecting them, until the fall rains began
9.1. In the Old Testament dead bodies were to be buried on the same day as their execution (Deut. 21:22-23), however in this case evidently the justice of God required that the bodies of these men remained exposed in public sight from the barley harvest in April until the early rains of October. At least we know that this is what the Gibeonites thought would be ample punishment and the Lord had withheld His hand of blessing on the nation until justice was served on the house of Saul.
9.2. Rizpah, the mother of two of the young men who were hung for the murder of the Gibeonites stays consistently there with the bodies of the 7 men keeping predators away from them. This went on for 6 months or more.
9.3. When David hears that Rizpah has kept a vigil up with the bodies of the 7 young men for 6 months he arranges for the bodies as well as the bones of Saul and Jonathan to have a proper burial in the grave of Kish, Saul’s father.
Note here that after the bodies were properly buried that the Lord
relented of the famine from the land and again heard the prayers of
VS 21:15-17 - “15
Now when the Philistines were at war again with
10.1. The fighting career of David, the courageous warrior of the Lord, has now ended.
10.2. In this battle we see that David in his old age has now lost his natural strength and stamina and is almost killed in battle simply because he could not sustain the energy and strength required. David’s life is saved by Abishai.
10.3. After this battle, the men of David disallow David from again going out to fight in battle with the army.
VS 21:18-22 - “18
Now it came about after this that there was war again with the
Philistines at Gob; then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Saph, who was
among the descendants of the giant. 19 There was war with the
Philistines again at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite
killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 20
There was war at
This is the story of how the four sons of Goliath, the Philistine giant
killed by David when he was just a young lad, were killed by the fighting men
11.2. Don’t expect trials to dissipate in your later years. Here we see that some of David’s fiercest enemies are finally conquered towards the end of his reign: the four sons of Goliath the Philistine giant David slew as a youth.
11.3. When David had gone up to fight against Goliath he had placed 5 smooth stones in his bag and then he slew the giant with one of them. Commentators sometimes mention that David had those other four stones as spares in case he missed with the first stone. However, it is possible he planned on getting a stone to kill Goliath and then his four sons who would possibly pursue David after he killed their father.
12. CONCLUSIONS :
12.1. As we consider the events in our study today, especially those regarding the 3 year famine in the land caused by the sin of Saul against the Gibeonites, we need to remember some things :
12.1.1. Take everything in your life to the Lord in prayer : Phil. 4:6-7, “6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
12.1.2. Seek the Lord early in your crises ( don’t wait for 3 years like David ).
12.1.3. Confess and repent whenever you realize that you have violated God’s commands. Keep short accounts with God ( IOW don’t wait for a 3 year famine to get things right with God ).
12.1.4. Realize the Lord’s hand in all that happens in your life working behind the scenes ( even though you won’t necessarily understand why everything happens to you ).