Empty Promises and Consulting God
2 Samuel 21:1
Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the LORD. And the LORD said, “It is because of Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
Chapter 21:1 reveals many amazing truths about the God we worship. One that is specifically obvious is that our Covenants or commitments are serious agreements in His kingdom. The story of the covenant with the Gibeonites appears in Joshua 9. The Israelites were going through the land driving out the people as God had commanded. The Gibeonites trick Joshua, and unfortunately, he fails to consult God. Joshua finds himself in a situation where he must now honor the covenant he made with this group of Canaanites.
The people of Gibeon send a group of representatives incognito, to make a treaty with Israel to prevent their certain destruction. The had heard that all peoples of Canaan would be annihilated at the hand of the Lord God Almighty. They feared death and tricked Israel into preserving their lives. Joshua 9:14 reveals that under the leadership of Joshua, Israel conceded to the treaty without consulting God in the matter and ended up binding themselves in the name of YHWH to protect the people of Gibeon. These people would later be a thorn in Israel’s side.
Throughout this time the Gibeonites lived among the Israelites until Saul decided to try to eliminate these people. Here in chapter 21 of 2 Samuel, God brings judgement on his people because of the foolishness of Saul. Remember, Saul is dead and David now reigns as King. This event is also later in his kingship. The events with Bathsheba have passed and he has also escaped the attempted overthrow of his kingdom by his son Absalom.
There are so many lessons that we can discover from this passage: 1) God is not bound by time. He remembered the unfaithfulness of Saul and sent a famine on the people while David was serving as king 2) He knows and cares about the affairs of His people. To support the previous point, the events with the Gibeonites were initiated with Joshua as the nation entered into the Promised land. The events between Joshua and David are around 200 years. 3) In God’s economy, covenants are a big deal. Ecclesiastes 5 (written under inspiration of the Holy Spirit by king Solomon) is a strong reminder that we should be careful with promises or covenants that we make. 4) As we make decisions, it is important to consult God for wisdom. In this story we see that Joshua failed to do this- so have I.
I am amazed however at the faith of the Gibeonites and how their faith caused them to devise a plan for protection. I am also reminded from this story that God has always intended to bless the nations- we see that truth clearly demonstrated in this passage. The Gibeonites are incorporated into the Hebrew nation. In the book of Nehemiah following the Babylonian exile, these people show up contributing to the laborious work of rebuilding the wall.
I want to be thoughtful at the promises I make and covenants that I have before God- I have cried out for His help and protection during times of distress. I have made countless empty promises with the God of the universe and with others. The Bible teaches that this should not be the character of those who follow after God. Numbers 30:2 states: If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. It is equally important to look to God and consult His wisdom before I make a promise.
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