Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 21

A crime without remedy

2 Samuel 21:2-4

When Saul killed the people in Gibeon, he was guilty of an even worse crime than murder. He had offended against the peace agreement that Israel made with Gibeon’s people (Joshua chapter 9). The result, by God’s judgment, was that Israel’s harvests failed for three years. God would not permit enough rain to fall, until Gibeon’s remaining people asked God to show kindness to Israel.

Clearly, some action was necessary to satisfy the people in Gibeon about this matter. Until that happened, they would continue to appeal to God about their troubles. So David invited them to see him. He asked them what he could do to satisfy their rights under the ancient peace agreement.

The people from Gibeon understood that the peace agreement gave them only the right to life. Their families, who made the agreement long before, asked for nothing else. They were content even to do hard physical work for Israel, if they could only live. So, they had no other rights.

There were, of course, the laws that God gave to Israel. Those laws did not permit the payment of money when a murder had happened (Numbers 35:31). Such a payment would not satisfy Gibeon’s people and they would not ask for it. By God’s laws for Israel, a murderer must die; but there must be proper proof (Numbers 35:30). Gibeon’s people did not have sufficient evidence to prove that any living person in Israel was guilty of murder. Saul was clearly guilty, but he had already died.

Next part: Seven men from Saul's family must die (2 Samuel 21:5-6)


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