2 Sam. 21 Some Questions Can’t Be Answered Here
There are a number of issues concerning the record of this chapter on multiple levels, which we’ll attempt to respond to.
As a foundation, remember that every word of God is inspired and serves as a guide, lamp and light for our lives. God’s Word is Truth! This refers to Jesus the Living Word, as well as the written “logos” of God.
David sought the Lord as to the “why” of a three year famine; of which there is no record of in any of the historical accounts. In response to David’s inquiry, the Lord responded it was because of Saul’s desire to kill the Gibeonites, which the Lord says in the phrase, he did in fact do. Here is another challenge from a Biblical and historical perspective; this account against Saul is only found here, as the famine is.
From this point on, David seems to take aggressive action, based on his zeal for seeing the famine come to a close; rather than seeking the Lord as to what should be done. Why would the king inquire from the Gideonites, who were essentially heathens; asking what David should do as a result. Because they were heathens, they asked for 7 men from Saul’s household.
For David to willingly present these seven men to the Gibeonites for hanging, is hard to understand. God does not require the shedding of human blood for atonement; Jesus was man, but also God and it is only by His shed blood we have forgiveness available.
To David’s credit he didn’t turn over Armoni or Mephibosheth, because of the covenant established with Jonathan. There were five sons of Rizpah, though that were hung and two others in latter part of March. She stood by the bodies, even though likely buried, for over six months in mourning. Her actions prompted David to take the remains of the seven, as well as what may have been the ashes of Saul and Jonathan to be buried in Kish’s sepulcher.
With all the challenges surrounding this, the Lord “heeded the prayer for the land.” Why we will not know until we’re in His presence, if that will even matter at that time.
In the second half of this chapter we have record of 3 consecutive wars fought by David and Israel. One of Goliath’s sons saw David had grown “faint”; and decided to kill David. However Abishai came to David’s aide and killed him. It was at this point the leadership declared the king would no longer put himself in harm’s way, as the lamp of Israel might go out; referring to the house of David and Israel.
As with the first war, the second seems to have been ignited by children of Goliath who came to battle Israel. Yet each of their leaders were slain by those with strong allegiance to David.
The final battle recorded speaks of a man who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. However Shimea, killed him as well. There by establishing relative peace for Israel.