Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 21

The murder of Gibeon’s people

2 Samuel 21:1

When he was king, Saul was guilty of many terrible crimes. His grandson, Mephibosheth, said that the whole family deserved to die as a punishment (19:28). One of Saul’s worst crimes was the murder of most of the people from Gibeon. Those people did not belong to Israel; their families came from the nations that formerly lived in the country. Several centuries earlier, Israel’s people had promised not to kill them, in a peace agreement (Joshua 9:15).

Gibeon’s people had lied to obtain that peace agreement. Still, even centuries later, the promises in that agreement mattered to God. So, when Saul murdered so many of them, the people in Gibeon called to God. They appealed to God to act as their judge.

David then became king, and several more years passed. Still, he did nothing to deal with this matter. It was not even clear what he could do: Saul was already dead. However, the Bible says that murder ruins the land (Numbers 35:33). In addition, the promises that Israel’s people made to Gibeon’s people, like God’s promises to Israel, affected the land.

So, in the end, there started to be troubles in Israel. Those troubles happened in the relationship between the sky and land, between heaven and earth, and between God and his people. Enough rain did not fall (compare 2 Samuel 21:10); the ground became dry, and the crops gave a poor harvest. This continued for three years, and David prayed about it. God showed him that the reason for these troubles was the murder of the people from Gibeon. God had heard their desperate appeals for help, and David must now deal with the matter.

Next part: A crime without remedy (2 Samuel 21:2-4)


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