There was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year. This famine is recorded in 2 Samuel 21:1 – 14 and we see that this occurred towards the latter part of David’s reign. David was an astute man and perhaps he thought that the first two years might just have been two years of bad crops. But it persisted into the third year and with this he inquired of the Lord as to its cause. The Lord revealed to him that it was for Saul and his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites. There is no record of this action of Saul’s against these people in 1 Samuel. David addressed the matter and asked the Gibeonites what had happened and how amends could be made. He learned (v 2) that Saul sought to slay them in his zeal for God’s people. This was a violation of the covenant Joshua and the princes of Israel made with them. Saul showed great zeal here and yet, when he was told at the beginning of his reign to exterminate the Amalekites, he failed. That resulted in his rejection from being king. Saul and his sons were now dead. How solemn that his actions affect the nation years later! David asked how to atone for this. The Gibeonites refused silver or gold. A higher price must be paid. They requested the execution of seven of Saul’s sons. To this David agreed and the solemn sentence was carried out. Seven men were hanged up before the Lord to make atonement. After some time, David gathered up the bones of Saul and Jonathan along with the bones of those who were hanged. He gave them a burial in the sepulcher of Kish, Saul’s father. After that God was entreated for the land.
From this could we learn that wrong action zealously, but unjustly, taken against some in an assembly can cause a spiritual famine in that gathering for years to come? This calls for exercise before the Lord by the elders to correct and seek restoration that the Lord would again bless their company. Further, is it possible that fruitful gospel work can suddenly come to a halt – despite much continued labor – because of some wrong done to those working in that field? Years may pass and things fade from memory but even after many years the Lord requires that redress be made. May the Lord give grace in such circumstances to make amends to those who have been wronged. Good and blessing will result for all concerned.
The final famine we will consider is different from the previous one. “Behold, the days come saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land; not a famine of bread, nor of thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: . . . they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11,12).
This has a solemn message for any who are not saved. In Genesis 6 we have that solemn word spoken about those living before the flood: “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” God waited, but the day came when the door of the ark was shut. The flood came and took them all away. Similarly, the Lord’s return to the air, catching away His people, is drawing nearer with each passing day. How solemn to be in your sins and therefore be left behind! The judgments that will engulf this godless world at that time are similar in character to those in Noah’s time. Think of sinners running to and fro, and from sea to sea seeking to hear the gospel but unable to find it. Places where the gospel is preached publicly will close. The day of grace will have ended. If you have any concern or thought about your soul, “Seek the Lord while He may found and call upon Him while He is near.” The door is open now. Look to Christ alone – the crucified One Who bore sins’ heavy load on the cross – and you will be saved. Trust Him now. Tomorrow may be too late.