Are we like David seeking to please God? The famine is not pleasant, and it is good to see David seeking God’s counsel in the midst of it. Imagine how surprised David was when he heard God’s explanation. “The famine has come because Saul and his family are guilty of murdering the Gibeonites.”
We are not told when this famine takes place other than it’s during David’s reign. We have just entered the final chapters of 2 Samuel that begin with this narrative. However, it’s a random story, and where it fits into the scheme of David’s reign is not clear. We’ll need to read 1 Kings 1 to take up where our last chapter left us.
We know from our earlier reading that Saul had fallen out of God’s good graces for his “innocent” rebellion. I put it that way because his disobedience was “innocent” if you listen to Saul’s account. God didn’t care about the reason or excuse Saul came up with, he was still apart from God because he had disobeyed.
What did surprise me a little was the troubling spirit God sent to torment Saul. I thought immediately of those odd days that happen for me, when I’m feeling out of sorts. Could that be God teaching me a lesson? I don’t think so. Saul’s affliction seems permanent, more than just a temporary attitude adjustment.
I love the story of David’s anointing. There is so much going on in these few short verses. As you read through, take time to imagine the reality of the situation that unfolds. We can envision all sorts of emotions even if they aren’t mentioned directly.
Samuel was fearful of Saul’s reaction to this mission for God. Rather than keep his weakness to himself, he told God, and God gave him a solution. His visit would be cloaked to look like a mission of cleansing and sacrifice. Brilliant!
The story really has a happy ending for everyone. Joshua has his work cut out for him in his conquests of the land. From the sounds of it, his neighbors are less than thrilled to have the Israelites in their midst. “These kings combined their armies to fight as one against Joshua and the Israelites.”
But before Joshua has to contend with them, the Gibeonites showed up seeking mercy. They certainly didn’t come right out and ask. They feared the Lord and felt like they had to hide their intentions in deception. I have to admit that had they waltzed into Joshua’s presence with a plea of safety, they would probably have been laughed at! Joshua knew what his role was, and befriending close neighbors was not part of it.
You can’t read these words and not be touched by some emotion. This is especially true when we let our minds fully imagine how this prophecy played out in Jesus’ final hours. Just as God orchestrated Israel’s fall to Assyria and Judah’s fall to Babylon, he sent his own son to die for us. God’s plan has always been full of purpose and intention. As mere humans, we are not always capable of understanding.
As I read this passage, I also try to envision what those first hearing the words must have thought. It’s easy for us to look back and see how well the descriptions fit with what we know happened. I understand that some of the imagery might bear resemblance to other heroes of the faith, like Ezekiel or Jeremiah. In what ways was this message helpful to those living in captivity?