In (II Samuel 21) there is record of a three year famine that took place early in David's reign as king of Israel, after he was settled down in Jerusalem and given rest from all his enemies (II Samuel 7). This would mean rest from Saul, Ish-bosheth (Saul's son) and his initial conflicts with the Philistines (II Sam 5:22-25).
Due to the severity of the famine, David inquired of the Lord for the reason of the drought through his high priests, Zadok and Abiathar. The answer came from God that it was because of Saul's bloody house and his slaying of the Gibeonites (II Sam 21:1).
When the Israelites first entered Canaan under Joshua's leadership, they were to rid the land of all inhabitants, for the inhabitants' goal would always be to separate Israel from God (Deut 7:1-5). The Gibeonites became exceptions because they falsely convinced the Israelites that they were from a far city and not permanent residents of Canaan.
From (Joshua 9) we find out that their deception allowed them to make a covenant with Israel to stay in the land but they would become hewers of wood and water carriers for the benefit of the tabernacle. The covenant was sacred and not to be broken but Saul broke it by killing many of the Gibeonites, who were actually descendants of the Ammonites.
To end the famine, David sought to rectify things with the Gibeonites by asking "what shall I do for you?" (II Sam 21:3). They requested that seven men of Saul's sons be delivered to them for hanging (v. 6). "The Gibeonites felt that the house of Saul should bear the responsibility of his wrong doing" (Truth Commentary, 1-2 Samuel, Waldron, p. 968). A helpful parallel would be the sin of Achan (Josh 7).
In the conquest of Jericho by Joshua and Israel, everything taken from Jericho was to be obligated to the Lord (Josh 6:17-19). Achan took items of value and hid them in the floor of his tent (7:21). His sin brought consequences on all Israel , causing loss of life at Ai (7:1-5). For Achan's sin, not only he but all his family was stoned and all his possessions destroyed (7:24-26).
From these two occurrences we can deduct that sin has consequences and oftentimes affects individuals who are innocent. How many children are raised outside of Christian homes and are never encouraged to pursue the truth; that is knowledge of and obedience to God?
How many of our students are brained washed by atheistic and agnostic teachers in our colleges who try to neutralize bible teaching? The sad reality is that these perverted philosophies are being pushed down to the high school and elementary levels.
Parents need to beware of the courses of study our children are exposed to and thank God we have still have good administrators and teachers in this area. Why? Because eventually every person has to give account for him/herself only.
"In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children's teeth are set on edge, but everyone shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge" (Jer 31:29-30). (Ezek 18:19-24) especially (18:30) -- "The soul that sinneth, it shall surely die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son".
These passages are dealing with personal guilt for sin, not for consequences for wrong-doing. "In (II Sam 21), the sin of Saul against the Gibeonites brought consequences upon his sons. The execution of these sons by the Gibeonites did not mean that the sons and grandsons of Saul were lost spiritually; that would depend upon their own conduct. Their execution was a public lesson that no one could violate a sacred obligation without a price" (Truth Comm., 1-2 Sam., Waldron p. 970).
What can we learn from the examples above? This question can be easily answered with scripture. "And the time of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent; because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness..." (Acts 17:30-31).
"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (I Pet 4:17-18).
Ted Craven is a member of the McArthur Heights Church of Christ and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.