2 Sam 21.1-6 tells us about a famine that had been on the land for three years, so the Lord was inquired. The Lord said it was because Saul slaughtered the Gibeonites and this was contrary to the oath Joshua gave them in Josh 9.15. David called for them and asked what would satisfy them according to justice. The Gibeonites were killed in Saul’s zeal to possess their cities and goods. According to Num 35.33, only the blood of him who shed blood could atone, and they considered themselves as blood avengers. So the Gibeonites required that seven sons (number of completion) of Saul were to be hung (after they were killed).
2 Sam 21.7-9 says that because David swore to Jonathan that he would not cut off his seed, he did not turn over Mephiboshet, but he did turn over the two sons of Rizpah, Saul’s concubine (2 Sam 3.7). He also turned over the five sons of Michal, who were actually the sons of Merab (1 Sam 15.9) whom she brought up for Adriel. Micah had no children to the day of her death. David delivered these sons into the hands of the Gibeonites. They were put to death first, then hung, like Moses did in Num 25.4. This happened in the first days of the barley harvest, around Passover.
2 Sam 21.10-14 says that Rizpah guarded the bodies until God sent the rain to end the famine by setting up a canopy for herself. She did this to drive away the birds of the sky that would rest on them by day and the beasts by night. According to the Torah in Deut 21.22 the bodies should have been taken down and buried the same day. However, they were killed by non-Israelites so that verse did not apply to this situation.
Now, David heard about what Rizpah did and was moved to give the sons of Saul a proper burial. So he took the bones of Saul and Jonathan from Jabesh-gilead, and the bones of those who were hung, and they were buried in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the tomb of Kish his father . After that, the rains came (21,14).
In 2 Sam 21.15-17 it says that the Philistines were at war with Israel again and David went down with his warriors and fought them, but David got weary. He was getting too old to fight these battles. Abishai protected him from a giant named Ishbi-benob (“his dwelling is Nob”), a descendant of Goliath, or of another giant. Abishai said David should not go to war again so that David’s “lamp” (life) not be extinguished.
2 Sam 21.18-22 goes on to say that after this there was a battle at Gob (“pit”) and there were individual duels (1 Sam 17.8). This was a common practice between armies so that both armies would not be engaged. Sibbecai (“Lord sustains”) the Hushathite killed Saph (“sea moss”), and Sibbecai was one of the Givorim (“mighty men”). Elhanan (“God is gracious”), the son of Jaare-oregim (“city of weavers”) the Bethlehemite, killed the brother of Goliath named Lahmi (“my war”-1 Chr 20.5).
There was war again and there was a man of great stature who had six fingers and six toes, born to a giant. He defied Israel and Jonathan the son of Shimei (also called Shammah in 1 Sam 16.9 and Shimma in 1 Chr 2.13) the brother of David struck him down. These four were born to one of the giants of Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by his Avadim (“warriors”). They were descendants of the Anakim (Josh.11.22). Including Goliath, there were five. This may allude to the five rocks David picked up from the brook in 1 Sam 17 and it may also allude to the five times the word “rock” is used in Deut 32 and coming up soon in 2 Sam 22.
2 Sam 22.1-51 contains a song which is also associated with Psa 18. Now, whenever we see a song (psalm) in the Scriptures it will have messianic messages in it. But, if we only see the messianic implications will may miss other aspects. This is the Haftorah reading for Deut 32.
We have already mentioned that the word “rock” is mentioned five times here, and in Deut 32, and how it alludes to the five rocks David used (1 Sam 17 40) and how David and his men killed five giants (2 Sam 21.22). It also alludes to the five books of Torah that Moses wrote; how the Psalms are arranged in five books; how Nebuchadnezzar’s giant statue is dropped by a rock (Dan 2.34-35, 45) and how Zechariah talks about the “burdensome stone (or rock) in Zech 12.3.
David wrote this in his last days (23.1) and some of the passages apply to Yeshua. 2 Sam 22.2-3 are quoted in Heb 2.13 and 2 Sam 22 is quoted in Rom 15.9. There are many things in this song that allude to Yeshua as a servant and mediator encompassed by snares and sorrows.
2 Sam 22.2-10 speaks of the “rock”, which we have mentioned, and the “shield” which are messianic terms. The shield (magen) is referred to as a “he” in Prov 30.5, and called the “word of God.” This shield is also the “horn” or “power” of David’s salvation (“yishi” related to “Yeshua) and “saviour” (“moshiach”). He goes on to say that Yehovah (v 4) has saved him from his enemies. Death encompassed him and torrents of destruction overwhelmed him. The “cords of Sheol” surrounded him, meaning he was near death (v 6). He called on Yehovah and he was heard. Then the earth quaked and the foundations of Heaven was trembling. Smoke went out of God’s nostrils (He was angry) and fire from his mouth, meaning strong denunciations.
It goes on to say in 2 Sam 22.10-12 that God came down with “thick darkness under his feet and he rode on a cherub and flew (like an eagle-Deut 28.19). He appeared on the wing (“kanaf where the tzitzit are) of the wind (Ruach) and he made darkness (hidden from human eyes) canopies (sukkot) around him, a mass of waters, thick clouds of the sky.
These verses are seen as part of what is called the “Ma’aseh (work) Merkavah” (work of the chariot/throne of God). This is similar language to Ezekiel 1, which is also called the “Ma’aseh Merkavah” in Hebrew thought. We will get into that concept when we get to Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Ezekiel. David is alluding to Mount Sinai in these verses and is describing what the Lord will do to his enemies. This can also apply to the Messiah and how the Lord delivered him and “drew me out of many waters” (saved me) and what will happen at the coming of Yeshua. As we read this chapter, keep in mind what Yehovah did for David, but also what he did for Yeshua.
We will conclude Second Samuel next time.