Setting Things Right for Prayer to be Answered

Chapter 38

Theme: Setting Things Right for Prayer to be Answered
Focus on: David and the Gibeonites
Reading Portion(s): 2 Samuel 21:1 to 14, Joshua 9.
– Important Background Information
– Helps you find strength in God
What this article teaches you
Delayed blessings trouble our minds. Then we seek God in prayer. The answer to prayer might depend on something that we need to do. It could be something that needs to be set right. We may not have caused the wrong but the power to set it right rests on us. Unless we set those things right we will not experience blessing.

It is worth noting that delayed blessings in our lives could also be caused by someone else’s fault. Some wrong done by our forefathers or predecessors could still cause trouble for us. Therefore when there is continual delay to blessings it is important to seek God’s face in prayer. He will reveal the cause. And then we can take the necessary steps to rectify the wrong done. Then God will send His blessing and answer prayer.


God sometimes uses delayed blessings to get our attention to things that need to be set right. There might have been a lapse on our part to do our duty or a failure on our part to keep a promise. It often happens that we will not remember our shortcomings in this respect unless God delays blessings in our life.

During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years. Now crops may fail one particular year for some natural reasons. That can somehow be managed. But when a famine strikes for three successive years there is definitely cause for alarm. So David sought the face of the Lord to find out the reason for such a situation.

Here David and the land of Israel was not faced with a lack of plenty; but a lack of the basic essential need of food. When things go normally we do not get concerned. Even if there is lack of abundance we may not mind. But when there is a shortage in the normal supply of things that is needed for our lives then we have to seek its cause with God. This is because there could be something that need to be set right before prayer can be answered.

Using a little imagination we can think about this situation in David’s life. He might have been living in a right relationship with God executing his duties as king. He might also have been praying regularly as he was a man of prayer. Yet we can safely think that it was only after three years of famine that he thought there could be something unusual in that situation. Till then he might have prayed generally for the situation to improve and the famine to be over. Yet when three years passed without any visible sign of improvement in the situation he turned to God to find out the reason for the famine.

So it tells us that there can come a time during our prayers that we need to specifically ask God for the reason for delayed blessings in our life. We might have been praying generally till then. But when a reasonable amount of time has passed without any change in our condition, we should definitely seek God to find out the reason.

God answered David. He told him that the famine in the land was because of Saul and his blood-stained house. It was specifically because Saul put the Gibeonites to death.

The Gibeonites were not part of Israel. But during the time of Joshua they had used deception to make a treaty with Israel. This was done because the Gibeonites feared that the Israelites will definitely put all of them to death since their land was given to the Israelites through God’s promise. Later when the deception was found out the Israelites did not put them to death because they had sworn peace to them by oath. But they were put under a curse by Joshua that they will be woodcutters and water carriers for the house of God always. It is worth noting that the Gibeonites were able to deceive the Israelites because the Israelites did not inquire of the Lord before giving them their oath of peace.

Again, it is worth noting that the famine during David’s time was not because of any fault on David’s part. It was because of his predecessor Saul and what he had done. Saul at some point of time had tried to destroy completely the Gibeonites even though they had been sworn peace during the time of Joshua. So it was a clear breaking of the oath sworn in the name of the Lord.

Sometimes delay in blessings could be because of someone else’s fault. But the power to redress that fault may be in our hands at that moment of time. Here David was on the throne. He had the power to do something for the Gibeonites that could compensate for them being hunted down at the hands of Saul.

So this incident tells us that any unusual delay of blessings is worth taking to the Lord in prayer. The cause for the delay may not be in our lives or deeds. Yet the power to compensate for the wrong done could be in our hands. God might use the delay of blessings; a famine for instance, to call our attention to the cause so that we may redress the injustice done earlier.

So David called the Gibeonites. He asked them what he could do for them so that they will bless the Lord’s inheritance. This is important. It seems that the wrath the leaders of Joshua’s time feared had fallen during the time of David. They had let the Gibeonites live because they feared that wrath would fall on them if they killed them and thereby breaking the oath sworn to them. But now since Saul had killed them and stained his house with blood the wrath of God had fallen on them. Therefore we find David asking the Gibeonites what he could do for them so that they will bless the Israelites; the Lord’s inheritance.

This teaches us something very important. Injustice done in any form can bring God’s wrath on us. Unless compensation is made for the loss wrath will remain on us. Only when a the wrongs are redressed can we be put back into a condition to receive God’s blessings.

According to what the Gibeonites demanded seven of the male descendants of Saul were given over to the Gibeonites to be killed and exposed before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul. The seven of them were put to death during the first days of the harvest. But David spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan because of his oath with Jonathan.

Quite naturally a question may arise in our minds whether such a killing was necessary. This is a difficult question to answer. Maybe in the cultural context and rules of war during those times this might have been a quite natural way of seeing justice done.

David had a little more work to do before God could answer prayer. This was because Rizpah whose two sons were also killed in this incident had kept watch over the dead bodies by day and night. She kept her vigil till the rains poured down from the heavens. So when David heard about it he went and gathered the bones of Saul and Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. Then the bones of those now killed and exposed were also gathered up. Then they were given a decent and honorable burial together in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish.


After all this was done God answered prayer in behalf of the land.


It is certainly difficult to take in the way justice was done in this case. But that should not distract us from learning the vital lesson of prayer taught here. We are to seek God to find the cause for delayed blessings in our lives. Sometimes the cause may not lie in our lives; but the power to redress an offense committed earlier could be in our hands. God expects us to set things right after seeking the cause in prayer. Only when we do so can a burial be given to the cause that it may never come up to trouble us again. Then God shall answer prayer.