Bible Readings for September 25th
Back in Joshua 9, the people of Israel entered into a covenant with the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites had lied to Israel, claiming to have arrived from far off. In fact, they were among the peoples whom Yahweh had instructed Israel to drive out of the land of Canaan, but Israel did not ask Yahweh for guidance. In today’s reading, however, we discover that King Saul actually violated the terms of the covenant by putting Gibeonites to death (2 Sam. 21:1). Interestingly, this revelation surfaces only because Yahweh has sent a three-year famine, prompting David to seek Yahweh’s face (2 Sam. 21:1). When David asks the surviving Gibeonites how he could make the situation right, they ask only to put seven of Saul’s sons to death for Saul’s bloodguilt.
Now, this puts David in a difficult position, since David had sworn in a covenant with Saul’s son Jonathan to protect Jonathan’s house (1 Sam. 20:12–17). Moreover, David had sworn to protect Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 9:7). To navigate this difficulty, David hands over seven of the sons of Saul to the Gibeonites (2 Sam. 21:8–9), but he specifically spares Mephibosheth “because of the oath of the LORD that was between them” (2 Sam. 21:7). Then, after the bloodguilt from Saul’s house is satisfied, Yahweh responds to the plea for the land by ending the famine (2 Sam. 21:14).
This is a fascinating story on many levels. In this passage, deep guilt has brought a curse upon creation itself, so that the king must hand over people to die sacrificially—although, importantly, David does not hand over the one who had committed the sins but rather the sons of the guilty one. Furthermore, we see that one of the offspring of the guilty man was spared on the basis of David’s covenant.
How can we possibly overlook the long shadow of Jesus cast over this story? Like the sons of Saul, our Lord took upon himself our guilt, not through his own sin, but by becoming the offspring of another sinner: Adam. Then, Jesus shed his own blood to heal the curse that had settled upon creation because of the sin of our race. Even more, Jesus died to spare you and me—the crippled, broken offspring of Abraham, with whom Yahweh had sworn a special covenant (Gen. 15).
And through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, Yahweh is healing the curse of sin by ushering in a new creation, in which we will dwell with God for all eternity. Therefore, let us groan along with creation “as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23), praying in the Holy Spirit for the Lord Jesus to come quickly to heal the physical and spiritual famine of this world.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.