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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 21

 

 

Verse 1

2 Samuel 21:1 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, [It is] for Saul, and for [his] bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

Ver. 1. Then there was a famine in the days of David.] Bella fame excipiuntur: Wars usually ended with famine: which, if it be extreme, is worse than war, [Lamentations 4:9]

In the days of David three years.] The first and second year he might look upon it as a punishment laid upon them for the common sins of the land: but when he saw it continuing a third year also, he thought there was something in it more than ordinary, and therefore, although he well knew the natural cause of this famine to be drought, [2 Samuel 21:10] yet he inquired after the supernatural, as wise men should do. Fools look only who stands on the next stair or step; but Jacob, when he saw the angels ascending and descending, he inquired who stood on the top of the ladder and sent them to and fro. Ezekiel also inquireth who standeth on the top of the wheel. Whatever is the instrument of our sufferings, let God be looked upon as the chief agent, and his favour reobtained. The whole people suffered for Saul’s sin; either because they approved it, or at least bewailed it not; neither did what they could to hinder it; whereby they became accessary.

It is for Saul and for his bloody house.] Which God had now a purpose to root out, that they might not be further troublesome to David - who had lately suffered so much - in the quiet enjoyment of the kingdom. We must also, whensoever afflicted, find out the cause, the special sin that God smiteth at, saying as Job, "Do not condemn me, show me wherefore thou contendest with me." [Job 10:2] "Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more. That which I see not, teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more" [Job 34:31-32]

Because he slew the Gibeonites.] Contrary to oath, and although they were proselytes, afterwards called Nethinims, as men devoted and given up to God. This sin of Saul’s slept a long time - viz., till forty years after: like a sleeping debt not called for of many years. So Joab’s killing of Abner slept all David’s days.


Verse 2

2 Samuel 21:2 And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites [were] not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)

Ver. 2. And Saul sought to slay them.] Taxing them with supposed faults, saith Diodate, aggravating their true faults, extending the particular ones into the general, depriving them of all commodity and favour, and raising great dissensions amongst them. Others think that when Saul expelled sorcerers and witches out of Israel, under that pretence he also sought to root out the Gibeonites, as being a remnant of the Canaanites, who were much addicted to those devilish studies.

In his zeal to the children of Israel.] Not to God - whose law, nevertheless, he might seem to have on his side, [Deuteronomy 7:16 Exodus 23:32-33] and would be ready to say as those vainglorious hypocrites, [Isaiah 66:5] Let the Lord be glorified - but to the children of Israel and Judah, whose good he pretended, whose applause he sought. And yet he might also be moved to this by covetousness, to gain their lands and goods: as also by malice against all that any way appertained to the priests whom he slew, as did these Gibeonites, who were hewers of wood and drawers of water to the tabernacle. The hypocrite is fitly compared to the eagle, which soareth aloft, not for any love of heaven, for her eye is all the while upon the prey which, by this means, she spyeth sooner, and seizeth upon better.


Verse 3

2 Samuel 21:3 Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the LORD?

Ver. 3. Wherefore David said to the Gibeonites.] Who had complained to God of Saul’s cruelty and perfidy; and he had heard them, for he is gracious. [Exodus 23:27] Their satisfaction therefore is by David endeavoured, and their prayers for Israel requested. See Job 29:13. This was an evident type, saith Pellican, of the calling of the Gentiles: and that, upon their prayers, God would one day receive the Jews again into grace and favour.


Verse 4

2 Samuel 21:4 And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, [that] will I do for you.

Ver. 4. We will have no silver nor gold of Saul.] It is not pecuniary satisfaction that we seek, neither would we suck any man’s blood in way of private revenge, but only to make atonement unto the Lord, who is displeased, and hath declared that this way he will be pacified; and that the famine may be removed, we thus demand and desire.


Verse 5

2 Samuel 21:5 And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us [that] we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel,

Ver. 5. The man that consumed us and devised against us.] Saul, who not only murdered and massacred many of us out of a blind and bloody zeal, but also plotted and practised our utter extermination, though we are proselytes and professors of the truth according to godliness.


Verse 6

2 Samuel 21:6 Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, [whom] the LORD did choose. And the king said, I will give [them].

Ver. 6. Let seven men of his sons.] Saul and some of his sons perished in that last battle of his against the Philistines, for the massacre of God’s priests: and now more of them for his cruel dealing with these Gibeonites. Murder is a crying sin; and albeit mortal judges may not punish the children for the father’s offence, - although the Japanese do so, they say; and it was the cruellest manner of Uladus Prince of Wallachia, together with the offender, to execute the whole family, yea, sometimes the whole kindred, (a) - yet God may justly punish the father in the children, though innocent in that particular, because all are sinners before him: children also are part of their parents’ goods, &c. women from Tekoah confessed that they were all worthy to die. [2 Samuel 14:14] and Mephibosheth stated. [2 Samuel 9:8]

Whom the Lord did choose.] And therefore his sin was the greater. As he perished "as though he had not been anointed with oil," [2 Samuel 1:21] so he sinned as if he had not been elected of God for king of Israel. Junius referreth it to David, and readeth it, "O thou who art the chosen one of the Lord": but the former interpretation seemeth to be the better.


Verse 7

2 Samuel 21:7 But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the LORD’S oath that [was] between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul.

Ver. 7. Because of the Lord’s oath that was betwixt them.] That oath, if it had been rightly thought on, should have saved Mephibosheth’s land as well as his life. If it kept Mephibosheth: from the gallows, how much more shall the Father of all mercies do good to the children of the faithful, for the covenant made with their parents?


Verse 8

2 Samuel 21:8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:

Ver. 8. But the king took the two sons of Rizpah.] By God’s warrant and direction doubtless, who can, at his pleasure, dispense with his own laws.

And the five sons of Michal, the daughter of Saul.] Or, Of Michal’s sister, - via, Merab: whose children, Michal, having none of her own, had adopted and educated. See the like ellipsis, 2 Samuel 21:19, Jeremiah 32:12.


Verse 9

2 Samuel 21:9 And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell [all] seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first [days], in the beginning of barley harvest.

Ver. 9. And they hanged them in the hill.] In some high hill in Gibeah of Saul, which some make to be the same with Gibeon, and that the Gibeonites were therefore slain by Saul, that he might get their lands and goods for himself and his bloody house.


Verse 10

2 Samuel 21:10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.

Ver. 10. Took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock,] viz., Where her children and the rest were hanged: that sitting under it, and lamenting her loss, she might be sheltered from the sun’s heat, till she might see whether God’s wrath was appeased by this execution, and rain reobtained after so long a drought causing a dearth. Vide hic ergo et mirare pietatem et patientiam Rizphae, saith an interpreter. See here and wonder at the motherly love and patience of Rizpah, who continued so long in such an open place day and night to watch the dead bodies of her sons, and to keep them from birds and beasts. These are the heart of a mother.


Verse 11

2 Samuel 21:11 And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.

Ver. 11. And it was told David what Rizpah … had done.] Who liked it well, and thought it no disparagement to make such a woman his pattern in showing kindness to the dead. We should not disdain to learn any good of any one, though never so mean. God sendeth us to school to the pismire, stork, &c.


Verse 12

2 Samuel 21:12 And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabeshgilead, which had stolen them from the street of Bethshan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa:

Ver. 12. And David went and took the bones of Saul, &c.] To show that he loved his enemies, which is no small conquest: it is an act of heroical charity. Full ill might Joab have told David that he hated his friends, for he loved his enemies.


Verse 13

2 Samuel 21:13 And he brought up from thence the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son; and they gathered the bones of them that were hanged.

Ver. 13. And they gathered the bones of them that were hanged.] This was some comfort to their afflicted mother. Some of Christ’s martyrs were denied this honour.


Verse 14

2 Samuel 21:14 And the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son buried they in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the sepulchre of Kish his father: and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was intreated for the land.

Ver. 14. And after that God was entreated for the land.] So pleasing to God is the due execution of justice, that thereby the wickednesses of the wicked are expiated, as to temporal punishment.


Verse 15

2 Samuel 21:15 Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint.

Ver. 15. Moreover the Philistines] Trusting to their champions, which yet were all cut off, and way made thereby for Solomon’s quiet and peaceable government.

And David waxed faint.] As being senex emeritus, his best days were done: it was otherwise with him than when he slew Goliath.


Verse 16

2 Samuel 21:16 And Ishbibenob, which [was] of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear [weighed] three hundred [shekels] of brass in weight, he being girded with a new [sword], thought to have slain David.

Ver. 15. Which was of the sons of the giant.] Such as were those before the flood, and the Zamzummims, [Deuteronomy 2:20] and that Gabbara in Pliny brought out of Arabia, under the empire of Claudius, who was nine feet and nine inches high.

Thought to have slain David.] This happened, saith Josephus, when the enemies being put to flight, David pursued them before all others.


Verse 17

2 Samuel 21:17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.

Ver. 17. That thou quench not the light of Israel.] As Epaminondas, by his death, did the Thebans, who were after that famous for their calamities, and no more for their victories. The body drowneth not whilst the head is above water; when that once sinketh, death is near: so here. Pray therefore for the preservation of good princes; we cannot pray for them, and not pray for ourselves.


Verse 18

2 Samuel 21:18 And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which [was] of the sons of the giant.

Ver. 18. There was again a battle.]

Nunquam bella bonis, nunquam discrimina desunt:

Et quicum certet, mens pia semper habet. ”

At Gob.] Which was near unto Gezar. See 1 Chronicles 20:4. Some {a} for Gob read Nob, but that is not right.


Verse 19

2 Samuel 21:19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew [the brother of] Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear [was] like a weaver’s beam.

Ver. 19. Slew the brother of Goliath.] The name of this monster was Lahmi, [1 Chronicles 20:5] but it may be, that after his brother’s death, he took and bore his name, or that he was called Goliath, as we say of a very huge or strong man, that he is another Hercules, a second Samson. Albert, Marquis of Brandenburg was called Achilles Teutonicus.


Verse 20

2 Samuel 21:20 And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of [great] stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.

Ver. 20. A man of treat stature.] Yet not so great, likely, as he of whom Pliny writeth, that he was found in Crete, in the opening of a monument by an earthquake, to have been forty-six cubits long. Fides sit penes Authorem.


Verse 21

2 Samuel 21:21 And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea the brother of David slew him.

Ver. 21. Jonathan the son of Shimei.] Whom some hold to be the same with that Jonadab, [2 Samuel 13:3; 2 Samuel 13:5] and then though he were witty and valiant, yet he was non nimus pius, not so honest as he should have been. So Joses Barnabas is by the Centurists thought to be the same with Joseph Barsabas, [Acts 1:23; Acts 4:36] but a far better man he was than this Jonathan, alias Jonadab.


Verse 22

2 Samuel 21:22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

Ver. 22. And fell by the hand of David.] Because by the hand of his servants and soldiers. Let us ascribe the honour of all our victories over enemies, corporal or spiritual, to Christ alone.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-21.html. 1865-1868.

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