2 Samuel 21:1-14 contains the account of a national disasters that was the result of God’s judgment on the sins of the country’s leadership. It is similar to 2 Samuel 24:1-25. The first account in
2 Samuel 21 is national judgment for the sins of Saul and 2 Samuel 24 records a national
disaster because of the sins of David.
Early during David’s reign there was a famine on the land for three straight years. When then Lord was sought it was revealed that Saul had executed the Gibeonites in an attempt at ethnic cleansing for some reason.
The Gibeonites were natives of the land given to the tribe of Benjamin (Map HERE), but because of Joshua’s covenant with the Gibeonites they had been accepted into the nation in Joshua 9:3-27
when they manipulated a treaty with Israel, but as a result of their misrepresentation of themselves they were to serve as woodcutters and water carriers for Israel according to Joshua 9:26-27:
“Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them. That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly, to provide for the needs of the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day.”
Saul’s family not only was from the tribe of Benjamin, but Saul himself traced his genealogy from
the city of Gibeon (Jeiel>Gibeon>Ner>Kish>Saul in 1 Chron. 8:29-33) just like David traced his
from Bethlehem (Ruth 4:11-22).
Saul’s attempt to annihilate the Gibeonites is not founded in God’s command to drive the Canaanites out of the land, but are Saul’s own desires for political reasons or to simply rid his land, the land of Benjamin, of these people. Whatever the reason for Saul’s “zeal for Israel and Judah” that had led
him to attempt “to annihilate them,” the Lord held Israel accountable for this crime.
The payment to relieve the three years of famine was to honor the request of the Gibeonites was seven descendants of Saul that the Gibeonites would executed and exposed on a hill outside of Gibeon. Two of Saul’s sons born to Rizpah and five sons born to Saul’s daughter Merab where
taken to the Gibeonites for execution. Rizpah mourned by the bodies from the beginning of
harvest until the rain came (April to October).
These events seem to have happened before 2 Samuel 9 where David asks, “Is there anyone still
left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1) And, of course, when Mephibosheth is found at Lo Debar he is afraid (2 Samuel 9:6-8). Also, this shedding
of the blood of the house of Saul is a likely candidate for the situation that Shimei was shouting
about during David’s flight from Absalom in 2 Samuel 16:5-14 when Shimei curses David and,
as he hits David with stones, shouts
“Get out, get out, you man of blood…The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned…you have come to ruin because you are a man of blood!” (2 Samuel 16:7-8)