It must have been a strange scene. Day in and day out for several months, a woman clothed in sackcloth with an occupation she never considered having. Within those months the days grew long and ran together. In fact, one day did not differ from the day before. The only thing that changed was the cool night air after a long scorching day. But each day, Rizpah hung on because she had hope. Hope for the day when the rains came.
Hope for the Day When the Rains Came
There was a famine in the land. Three long years of no rain. No rain to water the grounds, no rain to water the crops and animals, no rain to replenish the wells and rivers. Life was hard. The Lord showed King David why there was a famine and David knew he had to do something. (II Samuel 21:1) When David talked with the Gibeonites, they didn’t want gold or silver; they demanded flesh and blood. They wanted seven of Saul’s sons.
David gave the lives of Amroni, Mephibosheth (not to be confused with Jonathan’s son) and five sons of Merab, Saul’s daughter. The lives of these men were taken to appease a past sin of Saul’s. The sins of a parent affect the children, maybe not this drastic, but the future generations suffer because of it.
The sackcloth clad woman kept vigil over seven dead bodies to keep them from being torn apart by wild animals, two of whom were her sons. Amroni and Mephibosheth were her pride and joy. While keeping animals from attacking the bodies of these men, Rizpah knew when the rains came something would be done for them. She knew they would be buried. Rizpah had hope. Hope for the day when the rains came.
Rizpah must have been a beautiful woman or she wouldn’t have had the role she played in Saul’s life. She had a well cared for life because of who she was, Saul's concubine and the mother of Amroni and Mephibosheth, Saul’s sons. Her occupation changed from being the King’s lover to the vigilant overseer. A role that many probably thought was crazy. No matter what anyone said or thought, Rizpah had hope. Hope for the day when the rains came.
Rizpah loved Saul, but he was gone. She loved their boys and now, they too were gone. Rizpah probably thought about the days when Saul would send for her, how her stomach had butterflies because she loved the king of Israel. Thoughts of little boys bringing flowers in their tiny hands or the moments of finding frogs and worms in their pockets flooded her mind. Distant memories of the past. There would be no more memory making days with those she loved. All she had left were the silent reminders that sadness would fill her heart forever. But Rizpah had hope. Hope for the day when the rains came.
The rains came and David gathered the remains of these men along with the bones of Saul and Jonathan and buried them together in the family sepulcher. While the seven died a dishonorable death, they were honored by being placed among family.
Hope for the Day When the Rains Came
Today, there are many who are in places of grief such as Rizpah. Women who are still watching and waiting for the Lord to step in and answer the questions, why, how, and what do I do now. Women we know.
How can we help those in such grief? What do we say to those whose lives have been stripped of all joy? It’s situations of sorrow and grief that most people don’t have the “correct” words of encouragement to give. But there is an answer, God lives. He is still on the throne and in control over everything. Even the moments of grief and sorrow.
Why? A question that plagues the human heart when tragedy strikes. But you know, God knew we would ask this question. Even when Jesus hung on the cross, he asked, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”(Matthew 27:46) Jesus laid down his life for us so we don’t have to face grief alone. Our heavenly father is a Redeemer. He wastes nothing, even those moments of grief and tears. Our tears, the Lord collects them (Psalms 56:8) and there will be a day when the Lord wipes them away for good. (Revelation 21:4)
With God, there is hope and joy. No matter what situation we are going through, we have to look to Him to see the joy in everything – even tragedies. Have hope. Hope for the day when the rains come.
Hope is a new subject I'll be writing about this year. I hope you'll follow along.