The Gibeonites are first encountered in Joshua 9 where they duped Joshua by pretending to be strangers living far away, rather than the neighbors they were, bound for annihilation as part of clearing the "Promised Land".
Joshua 10:2 gives us a glimpse of what the Gibeonites were like. "Gibeon was an important city, like one of the royal cities; it was larger than Ai, and all its men were good fighters". Because they had made a treaty with the Israelites the surrounding kings we now bent on attacking Gibeon and they called on Joshua to save them, which he did.
We are not given any hint of the massacre in 1 Sam, but David didn't disagree with the details and the 7 men were killed "before the Lord". God answered and ended the famine. It's interesting that God chose/took his time to show his disapproval for the "war crimes" on the Gibeonites. There was a keen sense of injustice by the Gibeonites. They didn't go to David themselves. Maybe the "prayers and cries of the people" reached God's ears.
It took David three years to understand that something else was going on other than the ebb and flow of life. David asked God, God told David and David asked the Gibeonites what they needed. However grateful they felt with what they had left of their tribe, they didn't ask for wealth to replace tribal legacy. Their value was in their heritage. Something easy to forget in the Western world.
In this story I see the importance of keeping promises, they are generational. This reminds me of Acts 16:29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household."Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family. The Jailhouse at Philippi got its first foundational church members!
At some level there is a blessing that circles the people of God. The Gibeonites were still not Israelites but their place among them should have been secure according to the treaty. In those days anyone who wanted to be near the Israelites could not be banished they had to be circumcised or servant to the Israelite tribe. The relationships we have are no less binding than the ones made to the Gbeonites. It's no wonder that we are called to "not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever" (2 Cor. 6:14-18)
For a full exposition on this event http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/1021.htm
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