… Psalm 65: Making Matters Right

David is once again in Jerusalem, reigning as King of Israel.  It was a long, hard struggle for David as he waited for God to fulfill his promises.  There were a number of years of success as King over Israel, but this success led to carelessness, and ultimately to David’s fall.  The outcome was a great deal of suffering and adversity—topped off by the rebellion of his own son Absalom and having to leave Jerusalem.  David’s difficulties after his moral decline were many, and they were extremely painful. There is much to learn from them.    David did sin, and he did repent, but things did not just go on as before. David’s life was never the same.  Sin is never worth the price, and David’s life illustrates that.  What followed were difficulties that ultimately were for David’s good, and for the good of God’s people. David’s difficulties also served to humble David, and to make him more dependent upon God. It produced even greater humility and graciousness in him.

We can also see the “turning points” through out where God intervened in David’s life and for the kingdom in a very direct way.  Do we ever wonder why David didn’t just stay in Jerusalem and defend his throne from Absolam?  By leaving for the wilderness of Ephraim, He would not have to go to battle against his own people.  The people of Israel we God’s chosen as well as people under his own reign.  David’s Covenant with the God would have been immediately broken and a great sin would have occurred.  This, was a major turning point.  David did not sin against God and He intervened and worked all out all for His glory.  Another can be seen in The rebellion of Sheba,

… a Benjamite, who came against David saying,  “We have no share in David, nor do we have an inheritance in the son of Jesse. Every man to his tents, O Israel!” So every man of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri.  David had appointed Amasa commander in place of Joab after the killing of his son Absalom, and by this wins back the favor of the men of Judah.  When Amasa is late in returning to Jerusalem with his army, this prompts David to send Abishai,  Joab’s brother, to search for Amasa.  A dropped sword and an unsuspecting Amasa become the opportunity for Joab to eliminate Amasa and to take back his place as commander.   Joab went on after Sheba, when a wise woman from over the wall of Israel speaks out, convincing Joab that he need not make further war because of  Sheba’s rebellion.  The people inside cornered Sheba and killed  him and threw his head over the wall to Joab.  Here is the unseen hand of God at work in saving the lives of His people Israel.

The men of Judah, from the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, remained loyal to their king. The people of Israel are again arguing with the people of Judah.  The Israelite’ s argued that since they consist of ten tribes they have ten times more ownership of David–or should we say David is ten times more obligated to them. But when the people of Judah speak of their relationship to David, their claim to him is that he is near kin. Neither speak of David as God’s anointed king.  Both tribes follow David for self-serving reasons.  We can see the spiritual condition of these people.  Israel’s sinfulness in relationship to the divinely appointed leadership of David, as if they believed their king was obliged to give them what they wanted, when they wanted it, and felt free to reject him when they didn’t get their way.  Their  rebellion against David is also rebellion against God.

Making Matters Right with the Gibeonites

A famine has come to the land of Israel.  There are two events in  2 Samuel 21 that show us there are times when God intervenes in the lives of men.  No matter how “out of control” things may have looked, God was in complete control, using the most unlikely means to achieve what He had purposed and promised.  He is using David to make “right” the breaking of covenant between the Gibeonites and Israel 400 years earlier.

I am using the commentary of Bob Deffinbaugh. (Bible.org).  The Israelite’s made a covenant with the Gibeonites four centuries before the days of David. (Joshua 9 )    It fell to David to deal with the sins of Saul regarding the breaking of this covenant.

2 Samuel 21:1-14   Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the LORD. And the LORD said, “It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.”  So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah). Thus David said to the Gibeonites, “What should I do for you? And how can I make atonement that you may bless the inheritance of the LORD?” Then the Gibeonites said to him, “We have no concern of silver or gold with Saul or his house, nor is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “I will do for you whatever you say.” So they said to the king, “The man who consumed us and who planned to exterminate us from remaining within any border of Israel, let seven men from his sons be given to us, and we will hang them before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD.” And the king said, “I will give hem.”  But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the oath of the LORD which was between them, between David and Saul’s son Jonathan.  So the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, Armoni and Mephibosheth whom she had born to Saul, and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she had born to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. Then he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the mountain before the LORD, so that the seven of them fell together…

Now Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until the late rains poured on them from heaven. And she did not allow the birds of the air to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night.  And David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.  Then David went and took the bones of Saul, and the bones of Jonathan his son, from the men of Jabesh Gilead who had stolen them from the street of Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them up, after the Philistines had struck down Saul in Gilboa.  So he brought up the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from there; and they gathered the bones of those who had been hanged.  They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the tomb of Kish his father. So they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God heeded the prayer for the land.
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Gibeon was the hometown of Saul’s forefathers (1 Chronicles 8:29-30, 9:35-39). It was also the place where 12 of Ish-bosheth’s men (Saul’s son) engaged in a contest with 12 of David’s men, which turned into a bloody battle (2 Samuel 2:12-17). It was also the place where the “great stone was located, where Joab met Amasa and killed him.  Saul’s actions were a violation of Israel’s covenant with the Gibeonites, made nearly 400 years earlier–a covenant foolishly entered into by the then leaders of Israel (Joshua 9).   Now the Israelites are obligated to keep this covenant… but God brings a famine upon the land of Israel, prompting David to inquire into this matter and then make it right.  David inquired of the Lord concerning the reason for this famine. God’s answer was clear:

“It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites” (2 Samuel 21:1b, KJV).

Atonement must be made for Saul’s sin of seeking to annihilate the Gibeonites, with whom the Israelites had entered into a covenant of protection. Seven of Saul’s sons” were executed by the Gibeonites and thus the famine was removed in answer to the prayers of God’s people.  Because of the sin of Saul, the Gibeonites had been wronged.  David called the Gibeonites and asked what he should do to make this matter right.   “Nor is it for us to put any man to death in Israel” (verse 4).

The story of Saul, David, and the Gibeonites teaches that sin must be atoned for by the shedding of blood, and that there will one day be a payday for sin. How gracious God was to bless these people (Gentiles), and through them to bring blessing back to Israel.

 .PSALM 65      His Salvation and Providence  Pointing to the Messiah

1 Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion;
     And to You the vow shall be performed.
2     O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come.
3     Iniquities prevail against me. 
     As for our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them.
4    Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You,
     That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with
     the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple.
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5     By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us,  O God of our salvation, 
     You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of the far-off seas;
6     Who established the mountains by His strength, being clothed with power;
7     You who still the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves,
       and the tumult of the peoples.
8     They also who dwell in the farthest parts are afraid of Your signs–
     You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice.
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9     You visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it–
      The river of God is full of water; You provide their grain, For so You have prepared it.
10   You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows, You make it soft with showers,
      You bless its growth.
11     You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance.
12     They drop on the pastures of the wilderness, and the little hills rejoice on every side.
13     The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered with grain;
       They shout for joy, they also sing.
  AMEN
 
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