Summary: If we will stand on the rock and keep our children covered, Almighty God WILL save them!
When you are interceding for your lost loved ones, do you ever feel like you’re just wasting time? Do you feel like Rizpah, like you’re just covering for the dead? Does it feel like the people you are interceding for are a lost cause? Do you wonder if the Lord is really listening? Well, He hasn’t answered yet, so… Yeah. We’ve been there, haven’t we?
We pray, because we’re told to pray, but inside our faith is waning because it’s been SOOOO long we’ve been interceding and we don’t see anything happening. Sometimes they even get WORSE!!! And we are so close to the end now.
Today, we are going to revisit Rizpah’s story in the Old Testament. I am kinda fascinated with her and why her story was important enough to be mentioned in the Bible, so I want us to talk about her again today. Any time you see a short little story in the Bible that just pops up out of nowhere and doesn’t seem important, dig deeper, because, like the Prayer of Jabez, there’s something there or it wouldn’t have been included.
Rizpah lived in the time of King Saul and David. She was one of King Saul’s concubines.
Smith’s Bible Dictionary defines a concubine as:
The state of concubinage is assumed and provided for by the law of Moses. A concubine would generally be either
(1.) a Hebrew girl bought of her father;
(2.) a Gentile captive taken in war;
(3.) a foreign slave bought; or
(4.) a Canaanitish woman, bond or free.
Free Hebrew women also might become concubines.
There is an interesting story about some of King David’s concubines in the Bible where during the time when he was running away from Absalom, David left ten concubines to take care of the palace. Absalom raped the women in a tent on the roof of the palace, in the sight of all Israel. When King David returned to his palace, he separated the women into a house by themselves.
I always feel sad for those concubines when I read that story – they had to live as widows for the remainder of their lives since they were now considered too impure for the King’s use, and through no fault of their own. The good side of that is at least they were provided for.
Concubines had few choices. They could not get a bill of divorce like a wife could. A concubine's children were legitimate, but were doubtless considered secondary in rank to the children born from a wife.
Rizpah was the daughter of Aiah. She was a Royal Concubine, a concubine to King Saul. Regular men could also have concubines if they chose to. The qualifying factor was they must be able to support them for the remainder of their lives. Rizpah had two sons for King Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth.
I always thought of concubines as just babymakers for the Kings in that day. Wives were generally chosen as a physical mark of an alliance between two kingdoms, whereas concubines were actually chosen for their outstanding beauty and intelligence, and were more likely to actually be loved and desired. So Rizpah would have been both beautiful AND smart. Which means she wasn’t just some side chick.
There are two stories involving Rizpah in the Bible. In one, Abner, cousin to King Saul takes a fancy to Rizpah and he is later accused of having relations with her in an attempt to take the Kingdom. The Bible does not specify whether Rizpah had any choice in this.
In the other story that we are talking about today, there is a famine for 3 years and King David asked the Lord about it.
The Lord told King David the famine was due to King Saul breaking the covenant made with the Gibeonites when he tried to exterminate them due to his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah. We can see from this that covenant breaking was serious business in Biblical times.
So King David goes to the Gibeonites and says sorry and What can I do to make this right. They said give us 7 sons of King Saul who did all this. Of course David does not choose any of Jonathan’s sons, as they were in covenant.
What he DOES do is choose both of Rizpah’s sons among the seven.
So here is poor Rizpah, now widowed with King Saul dead, and now her sons are to be hanged TOO??? I cannot even imagine that poor woman’s anguish. I can’t even comprehend that level of grief. She had nothing left.
So after they are executed by hanging, their bodies are left to rot shamefully out in public as part of the punishment for something they themselves did not do, and it’s more than Rizpah can stand.