Don’t Give Up

Published by DonDavidson on

2 Samuel 21 gives us the inspiring story of Rizpah, the mother of at least two of King Saul’s sons. King David allowed the Gibeonites to execute those two sons, along with five of Saul’s grandsons, to avenge Saul’s attempt to wipe out the Gibeonites.[1] Saul’s failed genocide had angered the Lord and prompted him to impose a three-year famine on Israel—a famine David was trying to end.

After executing those seven men, the Gibeonites left their bodies unburied. Rizpah refused to accept that situation.  So for about six months—from the beginning of the barley harvest in April until the October rains came—she stayed with those bodies, in all kinds of weather, 24 hours a day, protecting them from the scavenger birds and the wild animals. She never gave up. And her persistence paid off. When King David learned what she was doing, he agreed to give the bodies of those seven men a proper burial.

The blind beggar Bartimaeus displayed similar persistence in pleading with Jesus to be healed. (Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43) Baritmaeus refused to listen to the crowd of people telling him to shut up, and instead kept calling out to Jesus. He wouldn’t give up. And his persistence paid off when Jesus ultimately restored his sight.

Jesus tells us that we should have the same kind of persistence in our prayers. In his parable about the widow and the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8, the woman’s persistence ultimately forced the judge to give her justice because he got tired of being bothered. Luke 18:1 says that Jesus told this parable “to show that at all times they ought to pray and not become discouraged.”

Similarly, in Luke 11:5-13, Jesus tells a story about a man who goes to a friend’s house at midnight and asks for three loaves of bread to feed a stranger because he has no food in the house. The friend at first refuses because of the late hour, but because of the man’s persistence the friend eventually gives him what he needs.

So when you pray and you don’t receive an immediate answer, don’t give up. Persist. Remember that God wants to give you His blessings. But sometimes the time is not yet right.

The late Pastor Dr. Eugene “Gene” Scott, from whom I learned a lot, used to say that if he had a fatal illness he would pray for healing and he would keep praying until he either received the healing or died, because he was certain that God would heal him either in this life or the next. I think that’s a good example of persistence in prayer.

Whatever we are praying for, we must be persistent, because that is what Jesus told us to do.

And it’s not just in prayer that we are told to be persistent. In Galatians 6:9-10, Paul urges us to continue doing good to others: “Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let’s do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

James 1:12 reminds us that we must never give up in times of difficulty or persecution, for “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

And of course, we are to persist in our faith, as the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

We must never give up on God. We must never give up in this life of faith.

For if we persevere, then when this life nears its end we can say, like Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7-8:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

[1] The only explanation the Bible gives us for Saul’s actions is in 2 Samuel 21:2, which says that “Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah.” Notice that Saul’s zeal was not for the Lord, but for “the sons of Israel and Judah.” I believe this means that Saul was a racist, and that he tried to wipe out the Gibeonites for no other reason than that they weren’t Israelites. The Gibeonites had been residents of Canaan when Joshua and the Israelites invaded. Joshua did not destroy them or drive them out of the land because the Gibeonites had tricked him and the Israelites into making a covenant—that is, a sacred alliance—with them. See Joshua 9:1 – 10:6.


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