In 2 Samuel 21 there is an interesting scenario played out that I feel illustrates the fact that sometimes, well maybe more than sometimes, we have a role to play in the process of restoration and forgiveness. It is certainly a theme we find throughout Scripture yet I was surprised to find it this defined in the Old Testament. As believers, I feel like we tend to forget that we can , and often times should, be involved in the process of God’s forgiveness and restoration. We are able to help facilitate this process more than we think.
I encourage you to read 2 Samuel 21:1-14 for yourself to get all the details, but here’s the basic plot line. 400 years before the scene we read about in this passage, Joshua had made a treaty, or covenant, with the Gibeonites who were in the land when Israel took possession of it. Although the Gibeonites had deceived Joshua into making this covenant, it was nonetheless transacted and covenant making is NO small matter to God.
God had allowed a famine to come upon the land and when David inquired as to the reason why God explained, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.” 2 Samuel 21:1b (NKJV) Now, when Saul attacked the Gibeonites he was probably trying to do what he thought was right and rid the land of the heathen. But in his zeal, he committed a serious sin because he broke, or violated, the covenant made between Joshua and the Gibeonites 400 years earlier. Oops…big oops!
So, the famine ensued, and David decided it was time to restore relationships with the Gibeonites in hopes God would forgive the sin committed by Saul and rescue the land from starvation and famine. Again, you’ll have to read the story for the details but in essence what happened was this; David went to the Gibeonites and asked them, “What shall I do for you?” That was a pretty open-ended question to someone that had basically been annihilated by an associate of yours! However, David did as the Gibeonites requested and God restored the land and rescued it from famine.
It is true that God will forgive us of all our sins if we confess our sins to Him. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 (ESV) But when it involves relationships, the Bible also teaches that we should become involved. Consider this passage, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. Matthew 18:15 (ESV)
The lesson learned from 2 Samuel 21:1-14 is that sometimes, along with prayer and God’s intervention, it takes action on our part to enable forgiveness and bring about restoration. For example, “23 …if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV) God can forgive, but sometimes we must take the necessary steps in order to reconcile ourselves to one we’ve offended or one who has offended us.
Hopefully, we won’t let relationships get to the point where someone has to die for things to be mended!