The love of a mother for her children is a very special kind of love. Second Samuel 21 provides an account that instructively reveals to us the glory of one mother’s love for her children.
Losing Children through Judicial Execution
Because Saul had slain the Gibeonites, God informed David that He had afflicted the land with a famine (2 Sam. 21:1). David inquired of the Gibeonites about what they would have him do to atone for Saul’s grievous sin (2 Sam. 21:2-3).
The Gibeonites told David that they wanted him to deliver seven descendants of Saul to them so that they could “hang them up unto the LORD in Gibeah” (2 Sam. 21:4-6). David complied with their request by giving them two sons of Rizpah that she bore to Saul and five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul (2 Sam. 21:7-9a).
The Gibeonites “hanged them in the hill before the LORD” at the beginning of the barley harvest:
2 Samuel 21:9 And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and 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.
What Rizpah then did after the execution of her sons reveals something special about her love for them as their mother.
A Mother’s Ongoing Love for Her Children
Even though her sons were dead, Rizpah continued to protect their dead bodies for an extended time:
2 Samuel 21:10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.
Out of her ongoing love for her children, she did not allow either the birds or the beasts of the field to prey on their dead bodies. One wonders what all it must have entailed for her especially to be able to keep wild beasts from devouring their dead bodies by night!
She displayed the glory of her love as a mother by all that she did to protect the dead bodies of her sons.
Even though the spirits had long departed from the dead bodies of her sons, Rizpah lovingly protected their bodies from scavengers. Her actions show that she certainly did not believe that the dead bodies of her sons were merely empty shells of very little or no worth.
Her actions teach us that we must understand that the dead bodies of our loved ones are still special and worthy of loving treatment and protection. They are not essentially worthless, empty shells to be disposed of by whatever means are most convenient for us.
Learning from what Rizpah did for the dead bodies of her sons out of her glorious love for them, we should reject all means of the disposing of the dead bodies of our loved ones that unnaturally destroy those bodies. Cremation and other manmade destructive means of the disposing of human bodies after death have no legitimate place in the lives of those who continue to love their own after their loved ones have died.
Instead, we should choose to bury the dead bodies of our loved ones as a display of our love of loyalty to them even after they have died.
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