2 Samuel 21

David lets the Gibeonites punish Saul's descendants

1 For three years together no food grew in Israel. So David asked the Lord what had caused this trouble. The Lord said, ‘It is because of the blood of the Gibeonites. Saul killed many of them.’

2 The king asked the Gibeonites to come to him. (The Gibeonites were not Israel's people. They were Amorites, but the Israelites had promised not to kill them. Saul had tried to kill them all. He thought that this would be good for Israel and Judah.)

3 David asked the Gibeonites, ‘What can I do for you? How can I make things right so that you will bless our people's land?’

4 The Gibeonites answered Saul, ‘We do not ask for money or gold from Saul's family. And we do not want to kill anyone in Israel.’

‘What do you want me to do for you?’ David asked them.

5 They answered the king, ‘There was a man who destroyed us. He wanted to kill all of us who were living in Israel. 6 Will you give to us 7 of his male descendants? Then we can kill them and we can hang them in front of the Lord in Gibeah. It is the town of Saul, the man that the Lord chose.’

‘I will give them to you,’ the king said.

The Gibeonites kill 7 of Saul's descendants

7 The king did not choose Mephibosheth, the son of Saul's son Jonathan. That was because of David's promise to Saul's son Jonathan. David used the name of the Lord when he made that promise. 8 But the king took the two sons of Aiah's daughter Rizpah, who were called Armoni and Mephibosheth. Saul was their father. And he took the 5 sons of Saul's daughter Merab. They had grown up as sons of Michal, her sister. They were the sons of Adriel, son of Barzillai from Meholath. 9 He gave them to the Gibeonites. They killed them and they hung them on a hill in front of the Lord. All 7 of them died together. That was at the time when the barley was nearly ready to bring from the fields.

Rizpah keeps her sons' dead bodies safe

10 Rizpah, Aiah's daughter, put a cloth over a rock for herself. She stayed there from that time until it rained. The rain came down from the sky on the dead bodies. She kept the birds away from them during the day and she kept the wild animals away during the night.

They bury the bones of Saul's family

11 They told David what Rizpah, Saul's lady friend, had done. 12 Then he went to fetch the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the people at Jabesh Gilead. (Their men had taken them from the square in Beth Shan. The Philistines had hung them there. That was after they had killed Saul on the mountain called Gilboa.) 13 David took the bones of Saul and Jonathan and also the bones of the 7 men who had been hung.

14 They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan with those of Kish, Saul's father, in Zela in Benjamin's land. The king had told them what they should do. And they did it all. Then God answered their prayers for their country.

Wars against the Philistines

15 Israel's people were fighting the Philistines again. David went with his men to fight the Philistines. He became very tired. 16 A descendant of Rapha, Ishbi-Benob said that he would kill David. The point of his bronze spear weighed 7½ pounds (3½ kilos) and he had a new sword. 17 But Zeruiah's son Abishai saved David. He hit the Philistine down and he killed the Philistine. So David's men said to him, ‘You must never again come out to fight with us. You are like Israel's light and we do not want anyone to put it out.’

21:17This was David's last battle as the leader of the army.

18 Some time after that, Israel fought with the Philistines at Gob. In that fight, Sibbecai from Hushah killed Saph, a descendant of Rapha.

19 In another fight with the Philistines, Elhanan, the son of Jaare-Oregim from Bethlehem, killed Goliath from Gath. Goliath's spear was thick and heavy, like a big tree.

20 In another fight, a great big man fought for the Philistines. He had 6 fingers on each hand and 6 toes on each foot. He was also a descendant of Rapha. 21 When he shouted bad things about the Israelites, Shimeah's son Jonathan killed him. Shimeah was David's brother.

22 David and his men killed all these 4 descendants of Rapha from Gath.

21:22The descendants of Rapha were all great big men. We call them ‘giants’.