Rizpah had two sons by the name of Armoni and Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 21:8). Who was this woman? She was a concubine of King Saul (21:10), who was the father of her two sons. Because of Saul’s evil treatment of the people of Gibeon, God punished Israel with a three-year famine (21:1). Seven male descendants of Saul then were hanged, including Rizpah’s two sons (21:8,9).
We are intrigued by Rizpah’s response to her sons’ deaths. What did she do? “Now Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until the late rains poured on them from heaven. And she did not allow the birds of the air to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night” (2 Samuel 21:10). How touching is that?! Here is a mother who was, well, acting like a mother. She was still “looking after” her boys.
Rizpah cared about her sons. She cared about their dignity. She did what she could to accomplish what she thought was best for them. She put her own life at risk in order to protect her sons’ bodies, and she did so over a long period of time. Again, she sounds like a mother being a mother, thinking of her children above herself and her own wants or needs.
Outside of 2 Samuel 21, this woman Rizpah is mentioned in only one other Bible verse (2 Samuel 3:7), but we shall not soon forget this historical account of how she protected her two sons’ corpses. This passage grabs our attention, causing us to do some serious reflection and soul searching.
Rizpah’s heart was touched and she took action. That is what true love does (1 John 3:17,18), and no one does it better than tenderhearted mothers.
For the mothers among us, we say God bless you for your care of your children, regardless of whether they are infants, in their youth, or they themselves already are old enough to be grandparents.
To our Christian parents, we would remind you that it is touching that, as a mother, Rizpah gave such personal care to her sons’ physical bodies, but it is far more important for you to be concerned about and emphasize your children’s spiritual welfare. It goes without saying that the time to show your love for your kids is while they are still alive.
If we look at a mother’s love from another standpoint, it goes without saying that if we still have living mothers, we need to honor them and show our love for them now, while both of us are still around (Ephesians 6:2). Many people celebrate one Sunday per year as “Mother’s Day,” but God’s children do not wait for a special day to show their sincere appreciation and love for their mother. Rizpah was special. Your mom is/was special, too.
— Roger D. Campbell