Like Rizpah

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Originally published in 1992.

Rizpah was one of the daughters of Saul and she had two sons.  Her two sons, Armoni and Mephibosheth (not the Mephibosheth David befriended), were hanged to their death by the Gibeonites as were several other of Saul's descendants.  Rizpah, a mom and lover of her sons, can teach us a lesson out of what she did for her dead sons.  

This is what she did:  "Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock.  From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds of the air touch them by day or the wild animals by night."   2 Samuel 21:10 CEV.


From the beginning of harvest until the rains came,  Rizpah stayed with her dead sons day and night.  That is about five months.  For five months she was there so the birds and other animals would not have her dead sons.  Picture this.  A woman holding that sackcloth, standing on the rock, and shaking the sackcloth at those vultures screaming, "Stay away you vulture!  You will not have my sons!  They may be dead but they are still my sons!  You can't have them!"  Even when her sons were rotting and smelling, she was there shaking that sackcloth.

Isn't that what we do for people we deeply love?   Those that we love beyond human words?  We stand on the rock of Jesus Christ and do everything we can to keep the vultures away from loved ones.  "No, drugs, promiscuity, apathy, you can't have them!  No, MTV, you can’t influence my kids!  No, Satan, you can't touch them!"

And even when they are ugly in death, rotting and smelling, we are still there waving our sackcloth standing on the Rock.

Recently I was invited to a 14-year old boy’s birthday party.  Someone I know from the school I substitute at.  I received his invitation with the American Gladiators on it from his sister because he has been expelled from Godwin for selling drugs.  I received a childish looking invitation for a boy who is guilty of a very adult crime.  Of course, I went.  I was the only white person there but I was shaking my sackcloth keeping those vultures off of him.  He’s not completely dead yet.  They can’t have him.

You probably have stories and stories of the sackcloths you've been shaking for the sakes of loved ones.  But Rizpah's story doesn't end there.  "When (King) David was told what Aiah's daughter, Rizpah, Saul's concubine, had done...  David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.  They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul's father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded.  After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land."  2 Samuel 21:11-14.

King David heard about Rizpah and what she had done.  He was so moved that he took down what was left of her sons and had them buried in the tomb for the kings.

Isn’t this our role as youth ministers?  Being there for our youth, defending the evil away, watching over them, until they are ready to be with the King.

Continue shaking that sackcloth.  Even when they seem to be smelling and rotting.  It may seem to be so hopeless.  The rewards may be few.  Many sackcloths need to be shaken at those vultures for the sake of our loved ones.

Take heart.  They will eventually be taken to the King.