A Woman After God: The Audacity of Rizpah

A little while ago I downloaded a study onto my phone centering on the stories of over 40 men and women of the Old Testament.  I am slowly working through as every so often I will search God's heart through the account of an Old Testament life.  It's a humbling thought that God uses people, broken people to showcase His glory.  I love this study because it is teaching me to look into every man and woman with an eye expectant to see the Lord.  I will admit that I got a little sidetracked because in the 40 included there is one woman missing who I have grown to dearly love and that's Rizpah.

I can remember the first time I heard Rizpah's name.  It was Mother's day, seven years ago while I was pregnant with our first child.  Bryan and I were living in Tennessee at the time and a guest speaker at our Church devoted an entire sermon to the Biblical account of her.  Though the thick of Rizpah's story only spans the length of one verse found in 2 Samuel 21, I couldn't help but feel impacted.  Today, I want to hold up the magnifying glass.

There is a complicated history behind Rizpah's story that I don't have time to go into here but here's the short version:  During the reign of Kind David, Rizpah's two sons were hanged for the sins of their father, Saul, which had put the entire nation of Israel into a three year famine.  They were hanged and their bodies were left on display to be defiled by their murderers.  This is a harrowing story to say the very least but what their mother does next has my eyes brimming with tears.

Rizpah stays with her two sons until she is granted burial rights.

Here's the account:  "Rizpah, Aiah's daughter, took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on the rock from the beginning of the harvest until the rain poured down from heaven on the bodies.  She kept the birds of the sky from them by day and the wild animals by night." - 2 Samuel 21:10 

Her sons were murdered along with five others at the beginning of the of the barley harvest.  Which means although it can't be certain, the text suggests that Rizpah remained with their bodies for the span of six months.  Can you imagine?  With grief heavy on her back she fought off scavengers with sticks, endured the elements with nothing but a sackcloth, but most of all she sat beside the boys she loved as she watched the flesh rot off their bones.  Day after day the public must have passed her by with mocking stares and words of contempt.  No compassion, no empathy.  She was a fool to challenge the king, who would help her?

But she held on.  Her severe care for the dead reminds me of our God, who generations before her time reached out of heaven to bury His servant Moses with His own divine hands (Deuteronomy 34:6).  They were her sons and whats more, they were God's sons.  Bearing the image of her Creator, she would demand the honor due.  The honor that by God, who is so profoundly aware of our mortal human condition, is required.

When the audacity of Rizpah was reported to King David, he granted her desire.  He gathered her sons along with the five others and buried them with their father, Saul in their family tomb.  And as the story goes:  the rains came. 

Did you catch that?  Is it coincidence that the famine was lifted at the peak of Rizpah's victory?  You could argue that but I would argue that God blesses the obedient and I believe with my whole heart that's what we see here in 2 Samuel 21.

Fierce audacity.

Foolishly devoted.

A woman after God.


Are you answering the call to be set apart even as the world promises mockery and shame?  I pray that you and I would be emboldened to obediently bear the image of God knowing that His promises far outweigh those of the world, which is passing away.

Walk as a reflection and in turn, you will walk in favor.


  1. Powerful sermon i culdnt hold my tears and really felt challenged. I want to be that kind of mother. I dont want what the world says about my children change what i feel God has in store for them. Thanx

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