On March 31, the evening devotion from Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotions was from 2 Samuel 21:10.
“Now Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until the late rains poured on them from heaven. And she did not allow the birds of the air to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night.“
After reading that verse, I had to read the whole story about Rizpah and her sons. Here is my condensed version:
When David was king there was a famine in the land. When the famine had not ended in three years, David cried out to God and asked Him why they were suffering. God told David that it was because Saul had tried to break the covenant that Joshua and the Israelites had made with the Gibeonites. Saul's men had attacked the Gibeonites, even though Saul knew that a covenant of peace had been made with them. God was basically telling David an atonement had to be made for the breaking of this covenant, even though it had happened 40 years before.
This is a reminder of how God values the keeping of a covenant. It’s also a reminder that the covenant He made with me and with all men, through faith in Jesus Christ is everlasting. Unbreakable. David went to the Gibeonites and asked them what he had to do to make things right. What would atone for Saul's attempt to break the covenant between them. The Gibeonites didn't want silver or gold. They wanted the lives of seven of Saul's grandsons.
David knew he could not give them Mephibosheth, because of the covenant he had made with Jonathan, Mephibosheth's father. So, David gave the Gibeonites seven sons of Saul's daughters. He gave them five of Michal's sons and two of Rizpah's sons. The Gibeonites hung them from a tree. And as we saw in the verse above, after the atonement was made, the rains did pour out of heaven.
This mother, Rizpah, stayed with the bodies of her two sons day and night, keeping the birds and beasts from eating their bodies. The thought of this mother, out there alone, guarding the bodies of her children, broke my heart. Can you imagine her grief? Her confusion? Her loneliness? Her sons had done nothing wrong. Why them? One of my commentaries said that she did this day and night for six months.
I know when you are grieving minutes feel like hours. One day feels like three or four. You want time to hurry and pass because you have to believe that time will lessen the pain. As I thought about Rizpah there with her grief, tears flowed down my face. I wasn't sure if I was crying for Rizpah or myself.
And then I read verse 11. “And David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.” Verses 12-14 tell when David heard what this mother was doing he went and got the bones of Saul and Jonathan. He also gathered the bodies of the seven who were the atonement for the attack on the Gibeonites. And he had them buried all together in the tomb of Saul's father. After six months of standing over her two sons, day and night, shooing away birds in the day and the beasts at night, Rizpah's sons were buried with the king.
Isn't that just like God? I don't know who told David what Rizpah was doing but ultimately, I know it was God. God saw this mother. As her heart was breaking, His heart was breaking. God couldn't turn His face away from her anymore than He can turn His face away from me and you. God never wanted her sons to die. He never wanted Saul to try to break the covenant. I can't understand why Rizpah's innocent sons had to die. But I do know that God, seeing Rizpah's grief and the love she had for her sons, had to do something. So, He worked through David to bring comfort and relief.
God gave her sons a resting place she probably never dreamed was possible. In a tomb with the former king and his son. How amazing.
That night and in the days after, I continued to think about Rizpah and many of the other mothers in the Bible that God saw and comforted. How He saw their hearts and understood.. how only the One who created us and gave us our hearts could understand. “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Matthew 23: 37. Jesus said this as he was crying and grieving over Jerusalem, when they were rejecting what He came to give.
I thought about how God saw:
Hagar in the wilderness when she called Him, "El Roi, the God who sees me."
Leah, whose sons Jacob was willing to sacrifice to save Rachel, Joseph and himself.
Genesis 33 : 2
Hannah, praying so desperately for a baby that Eli thought she was drunk.
1 Samuel 12 : 24
Bathsheba and the grief that she shared with David, as she lost her baby boy.
2 Samuel 12 : 24
The Shunammite woman who, when asked if things were okay, twice answered, "It is well." Her son had just died. She would not leave Elisha, the man of God, until He returned with her to her son.
2 Kings 4:18-37
I also thought about how Jesus saw:
Mary's face at the wedding at Cana. I believe He saw all the way to her heart and He knew that she was asking for more than just wine.
The widow at Nain who was walking beside the coffin of her only son.
Luke 7 : 13
Elizabeth, John the Baptist's mother. He saw and felt with her the reproach she felt for not having a child.
Luke 1 : 25
The mother of James and John when she asked if her two sons could sit next to Him in His kingdom. (More on this one another day!)
Matthew 20 : 20-28
The mother who was willing to take the crumbs off the floor for her demon-possessed daughter. A mother who wouldn’t take the word "no" for her child.
Matthew 15 : 22-28
Mary, his mother, as she stood by His cross with her sister and Mary Magdalene. He saw her pain. Her grief and confusion. It seems to me, that He couldn’t leave his mother until He had turned his earthly sonship over to His beloved John. Someone He knew would love her like He wanted her to be loved.
John 25 : 25-27
And God sees:
My friend, whose son is very ill.
Pat, whose son drowned while saving his son.
Dee, whose daughter has suffered in too many ways
Abby and Samantha’s moms, as they care for their daughters whose bodies have been broken by tragic accidents.
My brother-in-law’s mother, whose is ready to go see her son who died 43 years ago.
The moms who will go to sleep tonight and not know where their children are. If they are safe, or hungry, or cold.
Carol Kent and all the other moms, whose children are in prison living with consequences of poor choices. Mothers who know their children’s mistakes are only a tiny speck of who they know their children to be.
The moms of the 4,000 plus, who only see their children’s faces printed on a piece of paper. A photograph of them as a baby, a teen-ager, a young adult. True heroes in their country’s uniform.
The moms who sit in rehabilitation centers wondering if someone buried the arms or the legs their children lost on the battlefield.
Moms whose children have turned their backs on God’s goodness. Their prodigal children.
Heather and all the other moms fighting cancer and other diseases. Fighting for more days with their children, regardless of the cost.
My friend who is heartbroken because her husband doesn’t want her anymore, and feels a much greater hurt when he says he doesn’t want their child.
Angela, who didn’t have the chance to spend time with Audrey Caroline . And all the other moms whose babies were gone before they got to know them.
The single moms who drop their kids off early in the morning and pick them up after dark, not to buy a new car or to take a vacation, but to put food on the table and to provide them with a place to live.
The ones who aren’t mothers yet, but pray every night that God will grant them their hearts’ desire.
My mom, who knows I can’t be with her as much as I would like. She knows my son needs me more right now than she needs me. But, she still misses me.
God sees you. He sees me. Every minute of every day. That is why all of us, regardless of our circumstances, can have a wonderful Mother’s Day!!!