"If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house." Proverbs 17:13
"Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the Lord. And the Lord said, 'There is blood-guilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.'" 2 Samuel 21:1
As I read through 2 Samuel 22: 1- 14 several things stand out to me. One of the first thing we see is that the Lord used things such as extended famines to get His peoples attention. Long after Saul and Jonathan had been killed everyone in all of Israel had all but forgotten about the sin that had happened when Israel went back upon their promise to spare the Gibeonites. Apart from this famine, life would have went on and no one would have given this subject a second thought.
I have often known Christians who have lived life by seemingly reading things into tragedies, natural disasters and common occurrences. To such people repeated numbers and random events take on significant meanings. I am often cautious of these things and would hate to write this in such a way that someone would be influenced to do so. Notice that we are told that David sought the face of the Lord. David does not assume to know why this is happening. He does not guess as to what the significance would be in it. But, rather, he seeks the face of the Lord. Oh that we would all do this when we are tempted to hypothesize about things that seem to be significant.
Also notice that David, as king, sought the Lord in this matter. As king David had responsibility over the welfare of the nation. As king David was to be aware of the needs of the people and to seek the Lord in these things. David did not live in a palace and not concern himself with the needs and hurts of the people. He was not so isolated from these things that he was unaware of this need.
Just today I heard a newer believer talk to a seasoned Christian as if the seasoned disciple had no concept of sin and its effects. He spoke as if this older mature Christian was aloof to such things. I looked at the seasoned disciple and smiled and he smiled back at me. We know what sin is, we know what it can do, and we are affected by it often. So it is with David here. The famine was not the result of his sin but it was the result of sin; and of sins effects David is well aware.
Three years this famine struck the land and so David cried out. Three years and then David sought the Lord. How many years go by that I do not call out to the Lord over such things? Three years seems about the right time for David to see a pattern. It might have taken some of us significantly longer to put the pieces together. Yeah for David to do this rather efficiently. May it be so in my life as well.
So often today people seem to want to say that our sins are not bad if they do not effect anyone else. This story reminds us that sin and the discipline of that sin effects a lot of people. Saul's sin has now many years later caused great hardship and suffering to the people of Israel. Saul's sin had effected the Gibeonites whom he sought to kill and it continued to effect their offspring. Saul's sin would now cost the descendants of Saul their lives.
All these years later the Lord has called Israel to account for this sin. They might have said that this was an insignificant oath between Israel and the Gibeonites. They may have said that they were not bound to it since the Gibeonites had been deceptive in it to begin with. But here the Lord shows that an oath is to be honored and that there are consequences when it is broken. In the end, the significance of this action by Saul is seen in the words, "...because he put the Gibeonites to death." What is insignificant to the abortion clinic worker is still the death of a child to God. What is seen as a right of a person to die when they want to those who assist in assisted suicides is still the putting to death of a person who is made in the image of God. We would do well to see these things as significantly as the Lord does. And we also see that the Lord responds now because there is bloodguillt on Saul and upon his house for this action.
This is a bit of a speculation on my part but I wonder if this does not say something about the way in which the Gibeonites have responded to this. I am sure they noticed that for Israel life went on. There seemed to be no justice on their behalf. But I wonder, speculating on my part, if they were not still trusting that their would be? I say this because Israel often sinned by failing to trust that God does not forget such sins. They often failed to remember that God is just and that all sin is dealt with. For example, in Malachi 2:17 they wearied the Lord by asking, "Where is the God of justice?"
Now when David discovered that this sin was the issue and that it needed to be atoned for, he sent to the Gibeonites and inquired of them what needed to be done? Interesting that God did not tell David this. And thus I think that God's timing in all of this is as much a reflection of the heart of the Gideonites as anything else. They could have said, "Give us half the kingdom." Or they could have said, "Give us gold and silver." But they did not ask for these things. They did not randomly call for the death of the men of Israel; but instead, they asked that members of Saul's household die as a result of this.
Today, few want this sort of justice. Most of our cases, it would seem, is about profiting from our misfortune or injustice. It is not uncommon for us to hear of large settlements and large payoff's to victims. I am not saying that all of this is wrong but I do think that this text keeps the emphasis upon the biblical perspective of sin and redemption. Money cannot deliver a man in death. Man must be redeemed from their sin by blood. An animal does not suffice. The blood will either be that of the sinner who sinned or of Jesus who took his place upon the cross.
I used to work for a construction company and I would do the service calls for them. On one occasion the man did not like his stoop in the front that had a crack in it. He told me that he would be OK with the stoop if we would put a brick column up in front. This seemed like a good compromise because removal of the stoop and a new one would cost far more. But the owner of the company rejected that offer. He told the man that if he did not like the stoop now he would not like it even with a brick column. In the end the owner wanted the man satisfied and not just happy.