2 Samuel 21
This story is so out of context that it becomes important to consider the historical background. When the Israelites came into the Promised Land, they were instructed to drive out or destroy all the inhabitants. The Gibeonites tricked the leaders of Israel into swearing an oath that they would live at peace with them by pretending to be from a distant land. Four hundred years later, Saul had apparently violated that oath by seeking to annihilate the Gibeonites.
There are a few concepts of God’s law that must be understood. First, God takes our oaths very seriously. James 5:12 tells us, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” We are so prone to failure when it comes to keeping a promise that God wisely counsels us not to make them. But when we do, we must know God then holds us accountable for keeping them.
God’s Word also teaches that when blood is shed unjustly, it must be repaid. We see this in the justice system, where the avenger of blood might take a life for a life. Numbers 35:33 instructed the Israelites that the shedding of innocent blood would defile the land and remove God’s blessing. After three years of famine, David realized that God had done just that. The remedy was for justice to be done. It had been years since Saul shed the blood of the Gibeonites, yet the time came when God held the nation accountable for this injustice.
Imagine if God were to hold this nation accountable for all the innocent blood shed in her lifetime. From the native people of the land, to the slaves brought here in chains, to the unborn children slaughtered in the womb, if God demanded a life for a life, it could amount to almost half of the current population of our country.
That is only a small fraction of the weight of the sin-debt that Christ took on the cross. Christ took our guilt as individuals, but we can look to history to see that God still holds nations accountable for injustice that is overlooked. We’ve seen in so many instances of scripture that, while there is forgiveness through the blood of Christ, there remain consequences for our actions.