The Gibeonites were the people in Canaan who tricked Joshua into making a treaty with them. They pretended to be from far out where the Lord didn't require complete extermination, so Joshua made a deal with them. In exchange they ended up being workers for Israel.
But this puts them in a position to expect protection from Israel, not attack.
The Bible doesn't say when or why Saul attacked them, but it sounds like he was trying to completely wipe them out. Which is werid because
- They were distant relatives. Saul's great-grandfather was a progenitor of the Gibeonites.
- He wouldn't even complete the required assignment of wiping out the Amalikites, as commanded by God.
Wiersbe addresses the appalling and horrifying aspect of this passage by reminding us that these people were all under the law. Blood had to be shed for blood. Wiersbe emphasizes that it was sacrifice. These men's blood could not atone for Saul's sin. It was legal retribution.
I cannot say it often enough, but thank you, Lord, that we live in the time of grace and mercy because of the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The law shows us that we cannot save ourselves and we cannot live together peacefully by our own works.
Wiersbe doesn't think they were hanged. He thinks they were pushed from a cliff.
Looking at all of the giants slayed in the last part of the chapter is, oddly, inspirational. When young David came on the scene, no one would take on the single giant taunting them. Now as the King, David has inspired and trained many men to slay many giants. Even giants getting the best of a weary David. Israel is changing and this one scene is a strong piece of evidence.
Patrick and I are always on the lookout for evidence of God's change in our lives. To compare a previous event and how we handled it to a new one. We see the renewing of our mind and the softening of our heart. We're slaying giants with the armor of God. Unearned, undeserved, but clearly changed for His glory.