(Today's post by Chris Queen)
2 Samuel 21
Chapter 21 starts off with kind of a shocking story, where David has to go to extreme lengths to atone for the wrongs inflicted by King Saul.
1 During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
2 The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) 3 David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?”
4 The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” David asked.
5 They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, 6let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the Lordat Gibeah of Saul—the Lord’s chosen one.”
So the king said, “I will give them to you.”
So David finds himself in the unenviable position of choosing who has to die to atone for Saul’s injustice against the Gibeonites. Naturally, grief follows. David is touched enough by what the mother of two of the victims does to protect the bodies that he exhumes and reburies Saul, Jonathan, and the victim’s bodies in a family tomb. And God ends the famine and leads His people to victory against the Philistines.
It’s not often that we have to atone for the sins of previous generations, but sometimes we have to atone for our past sins to repair relationships. We may not even remember how we wronged someone else, but it’s worth the pain to restore or repair the relationship.
Have you ever had to right your past wrongs? How did you handle it?
Have you ever had someone offer to atone for their past mistakes? How gracefully did you accept them?