Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them… 2 Corinthians 6:17
Newscasters are fond of saying, “To put this in perspective….” The Holy Spirit may want to do so by introducing us to Rizpah. Her story in 2 Samuel 21:1-14 is a blend of drought, attachment, detachment, and kingly honor. As Saul’s concubine, she was a culturally sanctioned “accommodation” and bore him two royal sons. After the king’s death in battle, David ascended the throne. A drought began to grip Israel, but it did not seem to inconvenience the court for three long years. Only then did David inquire of the Lord why He withheld the rains. Saul, as it turned out, had shed innocent blood. David was willing to compensate the Gibeonites with gold, but they extracted a steeper price. Rizpah’s two sons and the five sons of Merab, Saul’s daughter, were hanged.
Most shockingly perhaps, the bodies were left unburied and starkly exposed from April to October. Rizpah sat nearby on “the rock,” a known landmark, over which she had spread sackcloth as a symbol of repentance. From there she fiercely kept the scavenging birds and beasts from getting to the seven rotting corpses, enduring their stench and her punishing isolation day and night. After seven months “water was poured” on this awful scene “from the sky,” but no rain fell yet on Israel. When David was told of the concubine’s courageous care for the royal dead, he sent envoys to recover the far-away, hastily ditched remains of King Saul and his son Jonathan. They were buried with royal honors in the family plot. After that “God was moved by entreaty for the land” and sent rain. Putting this in perspective, would it be fair to say that honor matters to God? His Word pays high tribute to an undervalued woman who chose repentance over personal resentment, and courageous attachment over cowardly detachment. (Part 2 of 2)
Comment: May I say something shocking enough to reek of chutzpah, Yiddish for gall or nerve? Actually, I prefer to be thought of as a Berean. Paul and Silas preached in their Synagogue, and in Acts 17:11 Dr. Luke comments, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” I first learned of Rizpah in a devotion by my beloved Charles Spurgeon, but almost immediately had a gut reaction that her story was more than just a mother’s love for her sons. So, I checked commentaries by preachers and scholars, only to be further dismayed - annoyed, really - by their general consensus. Yes, the lady was a devoted mother. What’s more, her public grieving should make us feel free “to embrace our grief.” I’m aggrieved by the fact that Rizpah’s act of repentance was ignored, and why no one wondered why God sent rain just on the place where she had spread the sackcloth, the known symbol of contrition. I’m glad that I have been able to honor Rizpah in different settings by telling her full story as shown above, pieced together from Scripture, and I will stick to it! 2 Corinthians 6