What Can We Learn from Rizpah in the Bible?
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What Can We Learn from Rizpah in the Bible?

Rizpah is a woman mentioned in 2 Samuel 21 who displays tremendous courage, faithfulness, and devotion. Though her story is short, it contains valuable lessons that all believers can learn from. In this comprehensive blog post, we will dive deep into Rizpah’s account and highlight key takeaways for applying her example to our lives today.


In 2 Samuel 21:8-14, we read about Rizpah’s profound act of protection and care for the dead. She was the mother of two of King Saul’s sons, Armoni and Mephibosheth, who had been killed by the Gibeonites and left to rot (2 Samuel 21:8). This was an act of justice allowed by King David to reconcile the Israelites with the Gibeonites after Saul had broken a covenant with them (2 Samuel 21:1-6).

Rizpah kept vigil over the bodies of her sons and five other relatives of Saul to prevent wild animals from devouring them. She spread sackcloth on a rock and stayed there from the beginning of the barley harvest till the autumn rains fell, chasing away birds during the day and wild animals at night (2 Samuel 21:10). Her courageous act allowed the men to receive an honorable burial by their relatives after the rains came.

While Rizpah occupies only a few verses in the Bible, her story provides powerful lessons that we can apply today as believers seeking to live out our faith. In examining Rizpah’s devotion, let us reflect on how we too can demonstrate courage, honor the dead, protect the vulnerable, exercise perseverance, and glorify God in difficult circumstances.

What can we learn from rizpah in the bible?

Key Takeaways from Rizpah’s Example

1. Demonstrate courage, even in the face of hardship and grief

Rizpah just experienced the horrific loss of her two sons. As a grieving mother, she had every reason to isolate herself in her sorrow. Yet remarkably, she found the strength to confront the elements and wild beasts night after night in order to protect the dead.

2 Samuel 21:10 (NKJV) >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.

Rizpah’s courage demonstrates the self-sacrificial nature of living out one’s faith. She put aside her own grief and comfort to do the right thing and honor the dead. She could have reacted in anger at David for allowing her sons to be killed, or fallen into the depths of despair. Yet remarkably, she responded with brave, decisive action.

As Christians, we too are called to stand courageously for righteousness, even when it costs us dearly (1 Corinthians 16:13). We honor God when we do the right thing despite our pain, fears, and hesitation. Rizpah’s example challenges us to rise above our circumstances through the power of Christ in us.

2. Honor the dignity of all people, even in death

The bodies of Saul’s sons were dishonored, left to rot in the open and be torn apart by animals. Yet Rizpah looked beyond this shameful treatment and remembered their dignity as human beings. She honored them by keeping vigil over their remains for months and ensuring they received a proper burial.

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2 Samuel 21:13-14 (NKJV) >And he brought up the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from there; and they gathered the bones of those who had been hanged…So they buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the tomb of Kish his father.

As Christians, we are called to honor the dignity and worth of all people, whether alive or dead, regardless of their status or sin (Romans 12:10). We can follow Rizpah’s example by caring for the vulnerable and forgotten in practical ways, such as consoling the grieving, serving the disadvantaged, and ensuring the deceased receive their proper burial rights.

3. Protect the vulnerable from harm

Rizpah shielded the defenseless dead from being devoured by wild beasts. She stood in the gap and protected the vulnerable with her own body, keeping constant watch. She could have turned away, but sacrificed personal comfort to serve those who could not protect themselves.

Psalm 82:3-4 (NKJV) >Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; Free them from the hand of the wicked.

As Christ’s disciples, we too are called to defend and protect the vulnerable. We can aid victims of violence, shelter the homeless, stand up for the unborn, assist immigrants and refugees, and rescue those trapped in exploitation and abuse. By extending compassion to the suffering, we reflect Christ’s heart for justice.

4. Persevere in doing good, no matter how long the battle

Rizpah kept her vigil for many months, from the barley harvest to the late autumn rains. She persisted in her mission despite the elements, discomfort, and weariness. She could have given up early on, yet faithfully guarded the bodies until they were properly buried.

Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)
>And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Similarly, doing good often requires endurance and perseverance on our part. Whether engaging in months-long disaster relief efforts or persisting in prayer for years, we must not lose heart. Our labor for the Lord is never in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). When we feel discouraged, Rizpah reminds us to continue on with courage.

5. Hope and trust in God’s purposes, even in the midst of suffering

Rizpah lost her sons due to the Gibeonites’ vengeance and David’s oath. She had every right to be bitter at God for not intervening. Yet she entrusted herself into His hands, courageously bearing her grief and protecting the vulnerable. She waited for God’s timing to receive blessing amidst the curse.

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) >And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

When we do not understand God’s purposes in our affliction, Rizpah’s example encourages us to patiently hope and trust in His sovereignty. He works all things for our good, even if we cannot comprehend it at the moment. We honor the Lord by declaring His faithfulness in our pain.


Though a minor character, Rizpah’s extraordinary courage and compassion sets a powerful example for all believers. Amidst vulnerability, injustice, suffering, and grief, she shines as a beacon of faithfulness, sacrifice, and virtue. By protecting the defenseless dead, she points us to honor human dignity, serve the marginalized, persist in doing good, and trust God’s purposes despite suffering. May her remarkable testimony inspire us to greater courage, compassion, and devotion in our walk with Christ.

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Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.