Ryrie describes the rest of II Samuel (Chapters 21-24) as "an nonchronological appendix" of events from David's reign.
21:1-2 Describes a three year famine and David seeking the Lord for the cause. The reason was when Saul was purging the inhabitants, he also slayed Gibeonites with whom Israel had a treaty. (Joshua 8:3-27)
So David reached out and asked what they wanted for atonement. They said not silver or gold, but seven of Saul's sons. David turned them over, except Mephibosheth because of his covenant with Jonathan. The Gibeonites hanged all seven together.
The mother of some of the sons, Rizpah, grieved mightily and publicly by laying out sackcloth over the bodies and kept scavengers away during the harvest and protecting it day and night.Word got back to David, so as a consolation, he brought back the bones of Saul and Jonathan and buried them with the seven sons on Benjamin land.
God was moved and I think it means the famine was over.
My impulse is to move right past this one because there are so many questions for God. And it's not my place to ask, as He owes me nothing; but I do ask as a daughter asks a Father, trying to understand what's being said.
- Why did the famine come during David's reign and not Saul's? Maybe God knew Saul wouldn't pursue and answer? Maybe He had priorities and this is when this came up? I don't know?
- Why would David give them a blank check, so he was stuck giving them what they wanted?
- Why would he hand over seven sons of the anointed king?
- Why would the Gibeonites murder seven people who had nothing to do with the crime and feel better about it?
- What is the modern application to these, seemingly barbaric, foreign ways?
My guess is, if I lean in and trust God's character, I will know Him more than if I shield my eyes and let it pass unexamined.
Ryrie says the Gibeonites were simply asking for the Biblical remedy- a life for a life (Numbers 35:31).
Ryrie goes on to point to Deuteronomy 24:16, and theorizes that these seven were implicated in the matter. So my knee-jerk presumption that God is unfair and David was callous, and these men were innocent- was misguided and unfaithful. God always deserves the benefit of the doubt and I should have stopped and thought through this same conclusion. (It's almost as if shielding my eyes and running away isn't the best way to get to know God better.)
And the famine came from God, not the Gibeonites. That should have clued me in that it was important to Him. Maybe these sons of Saul were plotting against God's new anointed king, putting His long term plans in danger. We have to trust that He knows so much more and has a view that we just cannot see.
Finally, it is a reminder that some of our suffering does come as a result of sin. We like to think of Jesus saying the boy wasn't blind because of his sin or his parent's sin; but for the glory of God. And we want that to be the case all of the time...but it is not. Sometimes there is a famine because of the hands of men.
Exploits Against the Philistines
David Fights a Giant, Again
David and his men were at war with the Philistines again and David was fighting a giant, a descendant of Goliath. David got weary and it sounds like he almost lost and died. But Abishai, his second in command, Joab's brother, came to his rescue and they beat the giant together.
As a result of this near-miss, his men insisted that he not go out in battle because the risk of losing him was to great to the future of Israel.
One or both of my commentaries theorized that this is why David was back in his palace for the Bathsheba temptation. I think the thinking is, even if he wasn't in battle, he could be at a safe distance leading with strategy and such, instead of completely retreating to his palace and leaving Joab to grow in stature and reputation.
A bunch of other giants and mutants were slayed by David and his men.