2 Samuel 21:1-14
There came a time while King David reigned that a famine occurred for 3 years. (Basically a famine is when there is so little rain that no food can grow to eat.) The king sought the Lord to discover why they were having this long famine. God revealed to David that it was because King Saul had killed many of the Gibeonites. [These were the descendants of the Ammonites that tricked the children of Israel into a peace treaty. The treaty promised they would always live in peace. Thus King Saul had broken the word of the people.]
King David went to the Gibeonites and asked what the nation could do to make this right, thus ending the famine. In reply the Gibeonites told him that they didn’t want money or things but for 7 of Saul’s descendants to die for their lost loved ones. David selected 7 of Saul’s grandsons and had them delivered to the Gibeonites, who then hung them.
When Rizpah, one of Saul’s daughters, heard what had happened, she took a blanket and laid near the bodies to chase the animals away. She stayed there even as the much needed rains finally came. Upon hearing of her actions, King David was moved with compassion. He sent out men to take down the bodies and, along with the remains of King Saul and Jonathan, he buried them in their family tomb. Saul and his descendants finally had a proper burial.
King David’s action of allowing the men to be killed seems cruel, however it was what was considered right and fair in their society. He was, however, moved by the kindness of their relative. Rizpah had shown compassion for the family. Sometimes harsh punishments or consequences for someone’s actions are necessary, but it is always okay for us to show compassion for those who suffer pain from the situation. We should always be ready to reach out to those in pain and need.
Talk about showing compassion to others. For example: brainstorm things that could be done to help the families of those in jail.