Are you ready? Today we are going to see some lessons that Rizpah teaches us . . . she might step on our toes, so let's look closely.
The first lesson Rizpah teaches us is that it's OK to grieve. Many of our lives have been touched by loss. Whether the loss of a parent, or a child, or a friend, we've known sorrow. We have friends and acquaintances that have experienced tragedy as well. No matter what we have been through ourselves, we cannot know the pain that another person is dealing with. Everyone is different, and their experiences color their grieving. Relationships before the loss can impact how sorrow is handled; some may shove it aside and show a stone face to the world. Some will show their sadness to all. Everyone grieves differently. We must be slow to judge others -- far too often people make snap judgments . . . "it's been x amount of months, why isn't C getting on with his life?"
Some make think that Rizpah hung on to her sorrow for too long. But Rizpah's grief and long period of mourning had a purpose! If she hadn't spent months at her vigil, King David would not have responded as he did. He would not have brought the bodies down for a proper burial; he would not have remembered the bodies of Saul and Jonathan; peace was finally brought to his kingdom and the famine left his land! Genuine grief is not bad. Our Savior wept.
The second lesson Rizpah brings to us is a lesson of love. Remember what Paul says? "Love suffers long, love is kind, love endures all things. Love never fails." (I Corinthians 13) Rizpah loved fiercely and completely, and protected her loved ones with all of her strength. Do we love our families and friends this way? Do we love our Lord this way? Are we completely devoted and surrendered to him? Do we persevere in prayer until we receive an answer? Rizpah spread out her sackcloth on the rocks near her sons, and was determined to stay there as long as it took!
Here's the wonderful part -- David was an earthly king; he was a sinful man, though he had a heart after God. He was sometimes impure, and sometimes wrongly motivated. But he heard and yielded to Rizpah's demands. How much more will our heavenly Father hear us? Listen to what Jesus said in Luke:
Do you think Jesus might have been remembering Rizpah when he told that parable to His disciples? Jesus was impressing upon them the need to be persistent in our prayers. He knows our needs before we ask Him, and He tells us to "ask...seek...knock" -- did you know that those words in the gospel are words that have a meaning of continuing? Not just once, but keep asking, seeking, and knocking. We are to be prayer warriors, and be persistent, as Rizpah was.
When you are tempted to give up, pray again! When you are tempted to just let it go, remember Rizpah!
Lastly, Rizpah is a reminder to us about what can atone for sin. Years after the treaty with the Gibeonites, Saul breaks that treaty -- his sin causes a great famine. Blood is what the Gibeonites say is needed. All of us are sinners . . . and nothing but the blood of our Savior can cleanse us.
In Him we have redemption through His blood,the forgiveness of
our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. (Ephesians 1:7)