Sharon Wilharm Bible Storyteller


During the reign of David, the land experienced a famine that lasted for three years. David inquired of God, asking the reason for the famine, and God said it was due to Saul’s bloodthirsty killing of the Gibeonites, even though they’d signed a peace treaty with them.

In his attempts to make things right, David went to the Gibeonites asking what he could do to appease them. They responded that they wanted seven of Saul’s descendants to be hung. 

David agreed to their request, handing over Rizpah’s two sons and five of Saul’s grandsons. 

The seven young men were put to death, but though God’s law stated that when a man was put to death, his body should be buried that same day, no one assumed responsibility for their burial.

Rizpah watched as her sons were hoisted onto the trees and left to die. She watched helplessly as they each breathed their last breath, innocent victims of the sins of their father. When nightfall came, she assumed someone would come remove them from the crosses. But no one came. 

Rizpah took sackcloth and laid it on the rock in front of the bodies, then she stood guard over the bodies, keeping the birds away during the day and the wild beasts during the night. 

For five months Rizpah camped out on that hill, watching as their bodies slowly decayed. She remained vigilantly by their sides, though the stench had to be overwhelming. 

Eventually word reached David about Rizpah’s vigilance and he gathered up the bones and buried them in the tomb of Kish, Saul’s father. After that, God heeded the prayer for the land and sent down rain from heaven.

Read about Rizpah in Scripture: 2 Samuel 21

Rizpah Bible story

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