Saul’s Family Punished
While David was king, there was a famine that continued for three years. So David prayed to the LORD. And the LORD answered, “Saul and his family of murderers* are the reason for the famine, because he killed the Gibeonites.” (The Gibeonites were not Israelites. They were a group of Amorites. The Israelites had promised not to hurt them, but Saul tried to kill the Gibeonites. He did this because of his strong feelings for the people of Israel and Judah.)
King David called the Gibeonites together and talked to them. David said to the Gibeonites, “What can I do for you? What can I do to take away Israel’s sin, so that you can bless the LORD’S people?”
The Gibeonites said to David, “There isn’t enough gold and silver for Saul’s family to pay for what they did. But we don’t have the right to kill anyone else in Israel.”
David said, “Well, what can I do for you?”
The Gibeonites said to King David, “The person who plotted against us was Saul. He is the one who tried to destroy all our people living in the land of Israel. Give us seven of Saul’s sons. Saul was the LORD’S chosen king, so we will hang his sons in front of the LORD on Mount Gibeah of Saul.”
King David said, “All right, I will give them to you.” But the king protected Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. Jonathan was Saul’s son, and David had made a promise in the LORD’S name to Jonathan.§ So the king did not let them hurt Mephibosheth. David gave them Armoni and Mephibosheth.* These were the sons of Saul and Rizpah. Saul also had a daughter named Merab who was married to Adriel son of Barzillai, from Meholah. David took the five sons of Merab and Adriel. David gave these seven men to the Gibeonites who then brought them to Mount Gibeah and hanged them in front of the LORD. Those seven men died together in the spring, during the first days of the barley harvest.
David and Rizpah
10 Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took a mourning cloth and put it on the rock. That cloth stayed on the rock from the time the harvest began until the rains came. Rizpah watched the bodies day and night. She protected them from the wild birds during the day and the wild animals at night.
11 People told David what Saul’s slave woman Rizpah was doing. 12 Then David took the bones of Saul and Jonathan from the men of Jabesh Gilead. (The men of Jabesh Gilead got these bones after Saul and Jonathan were killed at Gilboa. The Philistines had hanged the bodies of Saul and Jonathan on a wall in Beth Shan. But the men of Beth Shan went there and stole the bodies from that public area.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from Jabesh Gilead and buried them with the bodies of the seven men who were hanged. 14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the area of Benjamin, in one of the tunnels in the grave of Saul’s father Kish, as the king commanded. After that God again listened to the prayers of the people in that land.
War With the Philistines
15 The Philistines started another war with Israel. David and his men went out to fight the Philistines, but David became very tired and weak. 16 Ishbi-Benob was one of the giants.§ His spear weighed over 7 pounds.* He put on new armor and thought he would be able to kill David. 17 But Abishai son of Zeruiah killed this giant Philistine and saved David’s life.
Then David’s men made him promise that he would not go out to battle anymore. They said, “If you do, Israel might lose its brightest leader.”
18 Later, there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob. Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, another one of the giants.
19 Later, there was another battle at Gob against the Philistines. Elhanan the son of Jaare Oregim from Bethlehem killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath from Gath. His spear was as big as a post.
20 There was another battle at Gath. There was a very large man who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. He had 24 fingers and toes in all. This man was also one of the giants. 21 This man challenged Israel and made fun of them, but Jonathan killed this man. (This was Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimei.)
22 All four of these men were giants from Gath. They were killed by David and his men.
* 21:1 family of murderers Literally, “house of blood.” 21:2 The Israelites … them This happened in Joshua’s time when the Gibeonites tricked the Israelites. Read Josh. 9:3-15. 21:6 chosen king Literally, “anointed one.” § 21:7 David had made … to Jonathan David and Jonathan promised each other they would not harm each other’s families. Read 1 Sam. 20:12-23, 42. * 21:8 Mephibosheth This is another man named Mephibosheth, not Jonathan’s son. 21:10 rock This might be the Big Rock at Gibeon (read 2 Sam. 20:8), the rock that the bodies were lying on, or a rock that marked the place where her sons were buried. 21:12 Beth Shan Or possibly, “Beth Shean.” § 21:16 one of the giants Or “a son of Rapha (Rephaim).” Also in verses 18, 20, 22. * 21:16 over 7 pounds Literally, “300 shekels of bronze” (3.45 kg). 21:19 Lahmi … Gath See 1 Chron. 20:5. 21:19 post Literally, “a weaver’s rod,” the large beam across a loom.