“But the king took the two sons of Rizpah …And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord … 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.” II Samuel 21:8-10
A few years ago, I read a story in the Readers Digest; you might have read it too. This true story took place, as I remember, in southern Florida. This family lived in a rural setting with a shallow irrigation ditch running at the back of their yard. Between the ditch and the house was a large yard in which the children loved to play.
One day as the mother was working in the kitchen, she heard screaming. Fear gripped her heart for she recognized the scream to be the voice of her small boy. She dashed out of the house just in time to see a large alligator gripping her boy’s leg and dragging him slowly toward the irrigation ditch.
Screaming for help, she ran over and grabbed on to her child just before the alligator got to the water. There commenced a fierce tug-of-war for the life of the child. As she struggled and pulled, she screamed for help.
After what seemed like eternity, help did come and the alligator let go and slipped back into the black water.
The small child was rushed bleeding and torn to the hospital. He had lost a lot of blood and they had to do much work to stitch the wounds together so that they could heal. Fortunately, the wounds on the leg healed – without leaving scars – all that is, except the place the mother had hold of her boy. There, they say, he will carry the scars for life.
Satan would destroy our children by wounding them, stripping them and leaving them half dead in the ditch of sin. If our children must have scars, let it be from our grip and our prayers that will not let them go.
In our scriptural text, we have a classic example of a mother who “hung on” for her boys. Rizpah lay out on the rock night and day refusing to allow the vultures to devour the bodies of her boys.
Due to prejudice, King Saul formerly had put many of his neighbors, the Gibeonites, to death and scattered the rest–thus breaking a pledge made to them by Joshua. They had been assigned an area in the tribe of Benjamin–Saul’s own tribe. Early in King David’s reign God sent a famine in the land for three years. David sought God to find the reason for this famine. God told him that the reason was the slaughter of these helpless people by Saul. David called the Gibeonites who remained together and asked how they could be avenged. They asked that seven of the descendents of Saul be put to death. David gave them seven–two of which where the sons of Rizpah.
Rizpah stands out as an example of a mother who “hung on” for her sons. She was helpless to spare their lives, but she refused to allow the bodies of her two boys to be violated by the birds and the wild beasts. She spread out sackcloth on the rock beneath their bodies and stayed there day and night, from the beginning of the harvest until God sent the rain – and the king came and buried the bodies.
Jochebed, Moses’ mother, hung on for her child. She knew she had a special child and refused to obey the king’s orders to destroy him. She held on for three months until she could no longer hide him – then she built a little boat and placed him in it and released him into the hands of God.
Hannah held on to God for a child and did not let go until God gave her Samuel – then she released him back into the hands of God.
Rachel wanted children so much that she cried, “Give me children else I die!” God heard her cry.
Abraham held on and negotiated with God until God saved his nephew Lot from the fires of Sodom.
Job sought God every day for his children, just in case they might displease God during their celebrations.
A prostitute in Israel pleaded with Solomon to give her child to her rival in order to save him alive.
The Gentile woman was willing to suffer embarrassment and humiliation from Jesus in order to get her miracle for her child.
Mothers and fathers: grab onto your child. Hold onto God for them. Don’t let go! Your child has an enemy who would like to wound, devour and destroy your child. It may even seem for a time that the alligator is winning–but hang on.
I personally know of wives and mothers who have hung on to God for thirty and even forty years for the souls of their love ones. They hung on, and lived to see their children saved. Hang on!
Mothers: hang on until your child is marked for life.
Parents: hang on and then release them into the loving hands of God.
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