In the background of the famine taking place during David’s reign sat a dirty secret. Joshua made a promise to protect the Gibeonites and Saul acted counter to that promise. No action had been taken to resolve the injustice and some may have not even been aware of the injustice. The famine faced by Israel brought the injustice to light. In David’s actions, we find four elements required for dealing with injustice.
Seek God. Notice that David prayed first. He sought God’s direction. He knew something was amiss but was not sure what. Instead of consulting meteorologists and land managers, he turned to God for insight. The irony of David seeking God first is that the promise made to the Gibeonites resulted because of the failure of Israel’s leaders to seek God’s counsel (see Josh. 9:14).
Initiate Open Conversation. Once God revealed to David that the famine occurred because of unjust actions toward the Gibeonites, David initiated a meeting with them. David got to the point, giving them the opportunity to define the appropriate steps. Once again, David could have consulted advisors, religious leaders, or other associates. Instead, he went straight to the offended party.
Take Appropriate Action. Notice that when David opened the conversation with the Gibeonites, he stated that his goal was to help them be a blessing and not a curse (see 21:3). He was looking forward and not backwards. He was not trying to make up for a past wrong but was trying to build a future. We see the same principle in Acts 6 with the choosing of the seven. These seven men were called upon to take care of the needs of a group of neglected widows from that day forward. They too looked to the future once they became aware of a past problem.
Demonstrate Dignity. In ancient days, people executed were not regarded as being worthy of a funeral or interment. Rizpah guarded the remains of the seven men for days on end, which caught the attention of David. He went against the customs of his day and saw to it that the remains of these seven men — and the remains of Saul and his family — were placed in the family tomb. The injustice of the past did not warrant another injustice to the offending family, with David demonstrating dignity for all parties involved.
What lessons can we learn from David when we encounter an injustice?
Leonard Davis says
It is great that David broke the pattern of those who were in leadership positions before his time by inquiring of the Lord. Joshua and the tribal leader failed to consult God regarding the Gibeonites before they agreed to let them live. They failed to consult God before they required the Gibeonites to be servants (which required that they had to protect them from the five Canaanite kings who were going to attach the Gibeonites for being a traitor to their cause), Saul did not consult God before he initiated the action of killing many of the Gibeonites. David did ask God the cause of the abnormal conditions of the three year famine. David did not consult the Lord regarding an acceptable remedy to the injustice. When the Gibeonites told David what they were NOT interesting in having, again David failed to consult the Lord as to what would be a suitable compensation. Instead, he handed the Gibeonites a blank check. They responded with a retributive justice that was typical of the pagan culture of which they were still a part of.
What might God have advised David to offer? Maybe the answer can be found in what God provided for us who were enslaved? As we know, He provided redemption which set us free from servitude. I would think that the Gibeonites would have readily embraced being given their freedom from being servants (slaves) to the Israelites. Maybe that would have produce a much better outcome that would have been in keeping with Kingdom principles rather than hanging seven sons of Saul.
Pastor Val says
I think David did the right thing. When someone is aggrieved they want to know they are a part of the decision making to rectify the harm that has been done to them. Israel might have lost seven men but the Gideonites lost many more as a result of what Saul did. Retributive justice was practiced and endorsed by Israel’s laws.
Further to make the Gibeonites a free people among the Israelites sounds like a bad idea based on God’s instructions to Israel of being a separate people. We cannot interpret old testament behavior in light of new testament theology or there is hardly a godly man in the old testament that we could not vehemently condemn. The old and new don’t conflict but as Hebrews so clearly explain the new is a better covenant. Thats why Jesus could say, “You have heard it said, but I say unto you..”
I like that . Didn’t pick up on David not going to God before handing over the 7 men.