Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 21

Rizpah protects the dead bodies

2 Samuel 21:10

Usually, if people hung up a body in Israel, nothing would remain for anyone to bury. The wild birds called vultures would attack it, as if it were only meat. Then wild dogs would come by night, and they would even take away the bones. The people in Israel often saw how that happened to the bodies of animals. They believed that every person should have a proper grave. God’s law told them to bury even those criminals who died for their crimes (Deuteronomy 21:23).

Rizpah’s sons had died for a terrible crime, although perhaps they themselves were not responsible for it. God’s anger was against Israel – and nobody wanted to bury the bodies until rain fell. That rain would show that Israel’s people had satisfied God in this matter. However, Rizpah was desperate that her sons, and the other members of Saul’s family, should still have a proper grave.

So, because of her love towards her dead sons, she began her awful task. She prepared for herself a bed of rough, poor cloth. Once she had lived with the king, Saul; now, she desired no comfort for herself. Both by day and by night, she must guard the bodies. In Israel’s climate, the rains do not normally fall until six months after the start of the harvest.

Rizpah did not care how long she had to wait. She was deeply sad, both about the death of her two sons, and the terrible circumstances that made those deaths necessary. Her actions were not a protest; she humbly accepted what had happened. She only desired that she could wait long enough to bury her sons properly.

In time, the rains did come – and God gave to Rizpah what she desired.

Next part: David buries the men from Saul's family honourably (2 Samuel 21:11-14)


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