Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
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RIZPAH, A Mother of Example
2 Sam. 21:5-14

5 Then they answered the king, "As for the man who consumed us and plotted against us, that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the territories of Israel, 6 let seven men of his descendants be delivered to us, and we will hang them before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD chose." And the king said, "I will give them." 7 But the king spared Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the LORD's oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul.
8 So the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; 9 and he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the hill before the LORD. So they fell, all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest. 10 Now Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until the late rains poured on them from heaven. And she did not allow the birds of the air to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night. 11 And David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.
12 Then David went and took the bones of Saul, and the bones of Jonathan his son, from the men of Jabesh Gilead who had stolen them from the street of Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them up, after the Philistines had struck down Saul in Gilboa. 13 So he brought up the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from there; and they gathered the bones of those who had been hanged. 14 They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the tomb of Kish his father. So they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God heeded the prayer for the land. NKJV
 

Introduction
- Friends of one young mother with three young children were surprised when they received this thank you note after they had given her a play pen:

"Many thanks for the play pen. It is being used everyday from 2 to 3 pm. I get in it to read and the children can't get near me"

My Mother: The Light of the World

A little boy forgot his lines in a Sunday school presentation. His mother was in the front row to prompt him. She gestured and formed the words silently with her lips, but it did not help. Her son's memory was blank. Finally, she leaned forward and whispered the cue, "I am the light of the world." The child beamed and with great feeling and a loud clear voice said, "My mother is the light of the world." Bits and Pieces,
 
 
 

1.    RIZPAH, A Mother of Example In Her . . DEVOTION. v 10



10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until it rained on them from the sky; and she allowed neither the birds of the sky to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night.

A.    Rizpah's Devotion and her . . Beauty.
        This lady named Rizpah was Saul's concubine. She bore him two sons. She may have been a Gentile of the Horites. Her name means hot or glowing stone. This may have reference to her physical beauty. Most likely she would not have been a concubine if she did not possess some outstanding physical beauty. This may also be the reason one of Saul's sons was accused of taking Rizpah as his concubine after Saul's death (2 Sam. 3:7).

B.    Rizpah's Devotion and the . . Burial.
        Whatever else Rizpah was, she rose to demonstrate her devotion to her sons. There was a famine in the land. Rizpah may have known it was caused by Saul"s sin in that he broke a treaty with the Gibeonites. Saul's action caused God to send the drought and famine. If she knew this she may have also realized the sons of Saul would be required as a sacrifice by the Gibeonites.

Nevertheless she did not want her sons to die. Certainly she didn't want her sons becoming a feast for the vultures and wild beasts. If they had to die she wanted them to have a place of burial.

C,    Rizpah's Devotion and her . . Best.
        Rizpah loved her sons and her devotion to them is an example. Her devotion caused her to identify with the suffering and embarrassment of these boys. She did not shun them in their time of need. She was there by her sons. Her devotion caused her to stay with them during the months of their shame. Family is needed most in time of need.

They understand and their presence is most helpful. Verse 10 tells us she spread a sackcloth on the land. There can be several reasons for this -

        1) she may indicate her repentance and the repentance of the land
        2) she may have used it for a place to lay
        3) she may have used it as a tent for shelter.

Since it is sackcloth, it is my opinion it had something to do with repentance. Since she was Saul's concubine it would seem she could have gotten other kinds of covering if she did not want to emphasize repentance.

The latter part of verse 10 tells her activity during these months of agony. She kept the birds of prey and the wild beasts from devouring the bodies of her sons. It was the intent of the Gibeonites to have these sons of Saul ripped apart by the vultures and wild beasts. There is an order to this in nature. The vultures come while the jackals wait until they are done to do their eating of the flesh and last, the crows come to pick the bones clean. It is possible that some animal life would eat on the skeleton until little or nothing remains. Rizpah wanted a burial for her sons. She stood by doing her best to keep the vultures away.

Why? Her devotion to her sons.
 

                        A Preacher I know says Motherhood is not for Wimps

Illustration Mama's Boy Motherhood\Cares of Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, p. 376.
A mother was concerned about her only son going off to college. She wrote the following letter to the college president:

"Dear Sir: My son has been accepted for admission to your college and soon he will be leaving me. I am writing to ask that you give your personal attention to the selection of his roommate. I want to be sure that his roommate is not the kind of person who uses foul language, or tells off-color jokes, smokes, drinks, or chases after girls. I hope you will understand why I am appealing to you directly. You see, this is the first time my son will be away from home, except for his three years in the Marine Corps."

Application

Rizpah is an example of a Mothers concern for her children. She kept vultures and wild beasts away, we also should do that in a spiritual sense.

There is a vulture of sex waiting prey for our youth. This is a vulture when it is taken out of a Biblical context. Pre-marital and promiscuous sex is a vulture. I heard of a mother (supposed to be a Christian) who equipped her daughter with birth control techniques because of the way many youth live today. That's not fighting vultures.

There is a wild beast of drugs. We should fight that beast off. There should not be identity of our youth with the drug culture. Some of the rock music is a wild beast.

Playing around with "pot" and so called harmless drugs should not be done by Christians. Mom and Dad need to fight off this wild beast.

Although those thoughts are not really in the text, the parallel can easily be made. Rizpah is an example because she was devoted to the task. Notice her example in her demonstration.
 
 
 

II.    RIZPAH, A Mother of Example In Her Demonstration. v 10 



10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until it rained on them from the sky; and she allowed neither the birds of the sky to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night.

A.    Rizpah Demonstrated In the Face of . . Risk.
        Rizpah was just a concubine. She was not a wife. Concubines could be thought of as chattel. If, in fact, Rizpah's father, Aiah, is the Horite mentioned in I Chron. 1:40, she would be a Gentile concubine. The people would not have much respect for her and this makes her demonstration even more noticeable. She risked personal abuse by demonstrating her love, nevertheless, she is an example.

B.    Rizpah Demonstrated In the Face of . . Ridicule.
        To the people of this day dying in the manner of Rizpah's sons was regarded as the greatest dishonor that could befall the dead. Still Rizpah demonstrated her love and identification with her sons. She was demonstrating a conviction by expressing "I'll die here before I let some wild beast have the corpses of my sons." I think she was also demonstrating that she would make any personal sacrifice in order to gain a burial place for her children.

Illustration
A seminary student in Ft. Worth, Texas, was visiting a cemetery. He noticed a woman alone. She was weeping bitterly.. He went over to her and learned she was the mother of Oswald, the accused assassin of John F. Kennedy. She asked, "Does anybody care that my son is dead?" No one else was there but the mother, but just like Rizpah, she was demonstrating her love.
 

Illustration
A boy who afterwards became Governor of the State of Massachusetts once came near being drowned. The boat in which he was sailing was capsized, and he had to swim more than mile; but he finally reached the shore in safety; and when he reached home and told his mother what a long distance he had to swim, she asked him how he managed to hold out so long. "I thought of you, Mother," replied the boy, "and kept on swimming." The thought of Mother helped him in the moment of his greatest need, and thus saved his life, not only to himself and to his mother, but also to the state and the nation.

Application

If the sons of Rizpah had lived after this time they would have remembered their mother's demonstration. My sister Joyce tells on many occasions that Mother's influence had a great effect on her life. She remembered what Mom said or demonstrated in her life. My sister Maureen and I also remember. We have a mother who demonstrated her faith. Follow further as we notice another way in which Rizpah was an example.
 
 
 

3. RIZPAH, A Mother of Example In Her Dedication. v 9-11
    9 Then he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the mountain before the LORD, so that the seven of them fell together; and they were put to death in the first days of harvest at the beginning of barley harvest. 10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until it rained on them from the sky; and she allowed neither the birds of the sky to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night. 11 When it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done,

A. Rizpah's Dedication In the Face of . . Difficulties.
        The text says, "Rizpah stayed with the dead bodies of her sons "from beginning of harvest until it rained on them from the sky;..."Most commentators indicate this means from April to October. Verse 13 tells us the bones of the sons were buried, therefore it had to be a long time since only the bones were left. How did she do that? We can say she may have had servants to help. No doubt someone brought her food and water. She had to sleep and perhaps servants kept watch while she slept. But the bottom line is, she was dedicated to her task.

B. Rizpah's Dedication In the Face of . . Danger.
        Because Rizpah wanted to be a mother who kept vultures and wild beasts away, she was. Dedication makes a difference. On television recently that had a program called "Supermoms"
One mother has six children, a full time job and etc. How does she do it? She wants to be a great mom and is dedicated to the task.

Dedication eventually gets noticed. Verse 11 indicates David became aware of Rizpah's action. She wanted a burial for her sons but she never dreamed they would receive a royal burial. Her dedication was rewarded.

Illustration
The sculptor spends hours in shaping the features of the face; the painter labors to give color to the hair or expression to the face. Their work is to stand for ages to come. But a mother is shaping substances more imperishable than canvas or marble. She can afford to be patient and wait long enough for results. She has all eternity in which to watch development.

Application

Mothers, how much time are you willing to give to the responsibility of Motherhood? How diligent, persistent and dedicated are you willing to be? Right now it may not be as you wish with your children. The final results are not in. Rizpah didn't succeed in a month or two, but her dedication took her on. In our congregation today, Sylvia Butler worships. She has a son she prayed for, and now he is saved. Mother, don't give up hope; continue to be dedicated to the task of Motherhood.
 

CONCLUSION
Some of you here today are trying to be a Mother, but you don't have a relationship with Christ. We invite you to make a public commitment to Jesus. The greatest present you can give to your Mom is a Christian son or daughter. Make your decision as we extend the invitation.

Mothers, Godly Concern: Are All The Children in?

I think ofttimes as the night draws nigh Of an old house on the hill, Of a yard all wide and blossom-starred Where the children played at will, And when the night at last came down, Hushing the merry din, Mother would look around and ask, "Are all the children in?"

'Tis many and many a year since then, And the old house on the hill No longer echoes to childish feet, And the yard is still, so still. But I see it all, as the shadows creep, And though many the years have been Since then, I can hear my mother ask, "Are all the children in?"

I wonder if when the shadows fall On the last short, earthly day, When we say good-bye to the world outside, All tired with our childish play, When we step out into that Other Land Where Mother so long has been, Will we hear her ask, just as of old,

"Are all the children in?" --Florence Jones Hadley
 

I. RIZPAH, A Mother of Example In Her DEVOTION. v 10
 

2. RIZPAH, A Mother of Example In Her DEMONSTRATION. v 10
 

3. RIZPAH, A Mother of Example In Her DEDICATION. v 9-11