Everyone is Someone’s Child

Someone's Child

How King David Makes Me Mad and Helps Me Explain the Importance of Seeing Others as Gifts

There are things that annoy me and I don’t react well to them and then there are things that bring out a “holy anger.” I taught a Bible study yesterday that brought out that holy anger because the story involved treating human lives as if they were expendable.

I am taking a break from my series on Receiving Others as Gifts to talk about this story. But it is not really a break from the theme of “Others as Gifts” at all because honoring the very life of others—no matter who they are—is a basic premise of receiving them as gifts.

The study was from Gather: the Magazine of Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Gather studies this academic year have been featuring different women in the Bible and this particular study was about a woman named Rizpah and her dramatic mourning over her sons. You can read the story in 2 Samuel 2:1-14.

Why did Rizpah’s two sons die? [WARNING: GORE ALERT!] Well, King David handed them and the five sons of Merab over to Saul’s enemies, the Gibeonites, to be impaled.

Why did David hand them over? Well, there was a famine for three years and David was freaking out. Meanwhile, apparently “the Lord” reminded him about the “bloodguilt” from the time when Saul put Gibeonites to death.

So, David figured if he appeased the Gibeonites then the famine would end. Easy peasy.

And what did the Gibeonites require? At first they behaved as if they couldn’t be appeased. But when David pressed them they suggested this eerily specific idea. David could hand over 7 male descendants (“sons”) of Saul for them to be impaled.

And David agreed!

Right there, my holy anger was already kindled, but that wasn’t what really set me off.

What really set me off was verse 7, “But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul’s son Jonathan, because of the oath of the Lord that was between them, between David and Jonathan son of Saul.”

Yes, yes, David was honoring an oath. How noble.

It was, in fact, an oath that he made with his best friend, Jonathan! Are you catching that? It was his best friend’s kid that he spared.
Of course, David would place a value on the life of his best friend’s kid.

But the other 7 that he handed over were expendable. Their lives didn’t matter to David.

And it’s not that he doesn’t know that life matters, because he spared the life of a prime candidate for the Gibeonites’ bizarre execution. David knew that life mattered, but he selectively denied the value of the lives of the seven.

But see, everyone matters. Everyone is someone’s kid! And Rizpah with her dramatic time of mourning over her kids wouldn’t let David ignore the value of all of the lives that he had handed over.

And that brings me to why I’m interrupting my series to write about this—because my whole bit about Receiving Others as Gifts is to remind us that people matter!

All people matter! Even people we don’t like! Even our enemies! Even people we don’t even know!

We don’t get to pick and choose!

The atrocities we’re capable of when we lose site of this are horrifying.

I want to be certain to point out that God never asked for the execution of the seven sons of Saul. That was sheerly the agreement between the Gibeonites and David.

I imagine God out there with Rizpah, wailing and lamenting the senseless loss of life. Because those were not just Rizpah’s sons, they were not just Merab’s sons, they were God’s precious created people.

They matter to God.

We matter to God.

Others matter to God.

I hope and pray that we find in our hearts to let others matter to us–to receive them as gifts.

Read all the posts in the Receiving Others as Gifts series:

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