When famine fell on Israel, King David asked the Lord why and the Lord said, “It is because of the bloody house of Saul; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.” The Gibeonites had been people who had signed a kind of treaty with Israel, but after some time, Saul, for reasons we don’t know attacked this people and nearly destroyed them. Ok, well, I can see that the Lord might punish the nation of Israel with famine as a result of the king doing something so horrible. But God’s reason for the famine was not just what Saul did because He told David it was Saul’s bloody house.
The word ‘house’ means family. God was laying blame on the children and grandchildren of Saul and not just Saul. We can’t say that God would blame and punish the descendants of Saul without cause. We don’t know what they did, but we know that they were ‘bloody.’ They were harsh. Perhaps they had taken the lives of others. The incident of Saul attacking the Gibeonites may have been the point at which the spirit of anger, arrogance, and bloodthirstiness satiated this family. We simply do know. God’s law was that the children could not be put to death for the sins of the father and vice versa. The Lord would not now call for this law to be broken. There was a ‘bloody’ spirit in the sons and grandsons of Saul and it was passed down from Saul.
The spirit by which we live our life directly affects those we interact with. And the more often we interact, the more influence the spirit in us attaches to other.
I remember not long ago, accidentally cutting someone off in traffic. It is not something I normally do. I try to drive friendly and cautiously, but on this day, my brain was in la-la land. Anyway, I waved as a form of apology as we are passing one another on the road. His response to my gesture, was pure anger. He flipped me off and then sped up and cut over into my lane causing me to swerve and hit my brakes. I have to tell you that my feelings of regret for what I had accidentally done quickly gave way to a vengeful spirit wanting to speed up and do the same thing to him that he had just done to me. I actually sped up and started to follow him for a few seconds before the Holy Spirit slapped me out of it. That man’s spirit attached itself to me.
Hang around a person who complains all the time and you will begin to complain about them. Grow up with an angry dad and you may grow up to be an angry dad. If your mom is harsh with you, you will learn to be harsh with others. If you are hated by people, you will hate yourself.
This is iniquity. It is sin unchosen. I did not make a clear choice to go after that man to cut him off. No, my emotions took over in a sinful rush. I didn’t choose it. It was just suddenly in me.
For Saul, the spirit in him passed to his children and grandchildren. The Lord clearly warned us in the middle of the Ten Commandments that the iniquity of the fathers would be visited upon the children. The way I live my life will affect my children.
King David went to the Gibeonites and asked them what he could do to make things right so that the curse on the land could be removed. They asked for seven male descendants of Saul to be hung and their bodies left exposed in a place that everyone would know it was because of what Saul had done. And this is what was done.
Two of these men were sons and the others were grandsons. The mother of Saul’s sons was named Rizpah. She was a concubine, a sex slave. The laws prohibited concubines to be treated harshly, but they had no power over how the family was run. Her children were Saul’s children and she had no say. She watched as they came and took her sons and hung them. She knew they were not pure, but she also knew it was because of the environment that they had been raised.
One of the most difficult things about parenting is watching our children suffer at the hands of others when we have no control to stop it. Years after the fact, a mother may find out that her husband was molesting her little girl. A mother may be so lost in her own world that she neglects her children but the father still has to take his kids to her every other weekend per the court papers.
Rizpah’s sons died and hung out in the open. Dead bodies would be allowed to hang as a sign of the curse upon a person. What do you do when you see death and curses fall on your own children? How do you change things? How do you help them change? How do you remove the curse?
The consequences of their own behavior, born out of their father’s behavior, was for them to be executed, bodies left exposed until the rains came to wash away the famine. Rizpah, their mother, spread out a sackcloth and stayed with the bodies making sure the birds of the air and the beasts of the field did not tear their bodies apart. She stayed until the rains poured.
She did not remove their bodies. She allowed them to suffer the consequences for their actions. If we want to see death and curses removed from our children, we must allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions. Sometimes, because we know that the reason they are the way they are is because of us or because of some other person in their life, we want to protect them from the consequences of their actions. We want to give them excuses. We refuse to let Dad spank. We coddle our children too much because we think their mom has a bad temper. We challenge and blame every teacher and coach that tries to discipline our children. But this only hurts our children and allows the death and curse to remain. We all need consequences. This is how our Heavenly Father parents us.
The sackcloth that she laid out was a sign of mourning. She was mourning their death, but we must mourn the places in our children’s heart that have been touched by death and curses. Though we allow for consequences and give consequences for their actions, we still need to be compassionate for what they have been through. We can’t let this compassion run a muck by giving them excuses for their actions, but we must love them through the consequences. We should discipline in love. When other authorities discipline our children, we need to support the authority while making it very clear that we love our children though we can’t accept their behavior.
The bodies of her children were not torn apart by the wild animals. If we do not parent with both consequences and compassion, our children will be torn apart in their spirit by the issues in this life. They will have no stability. They will be helpless against the attacks of the god of this world like dead bodies hanging above a pack of wild dogs. The consequences that we both give and support along with our compassion to help them through this time brings mental, emotional, and spiritual stability to withstand the spirit of death and curses.
It will not happen overnight. Rizpah stayed until the rains poured. The rains bring new life, new growth, a new season. Whatever our children have suffered, whether at our hands or others, the Lord has a new season waiting. The famine will not last forever in their life, but they need someone to stay with them, walking with them through the consequences with love and compassion. They need someone who will not give up on them. They need someone who will stay, never giving them excuses, but never abandoning them either. They need someone to love them as God loves us all. He gives consequences and allows them, but walks beside us in compassion helping us to overcome.
The mixture of consequences for their actions and compassion for their suffering removes the curse, washes away iniquity, and brings a new season. The sign of a good parent is not a child that never suffers consequences. The sign of a good parent is a child who has learned to overcome the hardships of life and still maintain their faith, their integrity, and their honor.
Follow me on facebook