Portrait of an Intercessor
I have been thinking about the power and necessity of Intercessory prayer. The Lord brought to my mind the scripture, Ezekiel 22:30, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.”
God is saying that he is looking for people to pray, to intercede, to intervene in the Spirit realm for other people, for our cities, for our country, for our world. The word hedge means the protection wall, a place of safety behind the wall, to dwell in the shelter of the Most High. We as Christians should be praying for our weaker brethren and for the lost. We should pray for the leaders of our church and for our government. We should through intercessory prayer make up or even repair any damaged walls.
Then we look at the word gap. God says he is looking for someone to stand in the gap. What is the meaning of gap? It means the unfilled space or break or hole between God and man; holiness and sin; righteousness and evil. God wants us to stand in that gap as lights of the Lord to lead men and women to Him to encourage others to good works and righteousness.
If we want to see change in our world, Intercessory Prayer is vital!
I want to do short study on an extraordinary woman in the Old Testament who maybe be only mentioned in one chapter of the Bible but what a woman!!! Her name is Rizpah and she is found in 2 Samuel 21. Before we look at 2 Samuel, I want to look at the first part of Parable of the Sower. This is found in Matthew 13:1-4, “That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.” Now look at verse 18-19: “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.”
The seed is the Word of God, the experience of God, the very presence of God. And what happened? The birdie of the air came and ate it up. Who is this birdie of the air? None other than Satan, the devil, the enemy of our soul who would snatch the Word from the lost or the wavering
souls who need New Life, who need Jesus. What do we do about it?
Let us look at Rizpah now.
2 Samuel 21:1 – 14
Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the LORD. And the LORD said, “It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah). Thus David said to the Gibeonites, “What should I do for you? And how can I make atonement that you may bless the inheritance of the LORD?” Then the Gibeonites said to him, “We have no concern of silver or gold with Saul or his house, nor is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “I will do for you whatever you say.” So they said to the king, “The man who consumed us and who planned to exterminate us from remaining within any border of Israel, let seven men from his sons be given to us, and we will hang them before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD.” And the king said, “I will give them.”
But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the oath of the LORDwhich was between them, between David and Saul’s son Jonathan. So the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, Armoni and Mephibosheth whom she had borne to Saul, and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she had borne to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. Then he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the mountain before the LORD, so that the seven of them fell together; and they were put to death in the first days of harvest at the beginning of barley harvest.
And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until it rained on them from the sky; and she allowed neither the birds of the sky to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night. When it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, then David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the open square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them on the day the Philistines struck down Saul in Gilboa.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. They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zela, in the grave of Kish his father; thus they did all that the king commanded, and after that God was moved by prayer for the land.
To understand about Rizpah’s remarkable deeds, we need the backstory on this portion of scripture. Probably four or five years into King David reign over Israel there were three bad years of famine. David was very concerned for his nation and the people. When a country is in famine there is hunger, want, starvation, destitution, deprivation, drought, loss of crops, loss of life, poverty, calamity, tragedy, discontent among the people. David was desperate and 2 Samuel 21:1 says, David sought the presence of the Lord. David knew there was a reason for the drought and only the Lord could tell him yet the answer was astounding and somewhat horrifying.
The reason for the drought was King Saul and his bloody deeds. In Joshua chapter 9 nearly 400 years previous, the Israelites made a covenant or oath that they would keep the pagan tribe of the Gibeonites safe and would not kill them as they claimed the land promised them by the Lord. This was an oath made before God and was honored until King Saul decided that he would decimate the tribe of the Gibeonites. Who knows how many men, women and children Saul killed? The Bible does not say. Because of this bloody deed of Saul, the whole land suffered until it was made right.
King David asked the Gibeonites what would it take to make things right with them. Remember, the Gibeonites were a pagan tribe and it was a time of “an eye for an eye and a life for a life”. The Gibeonites said, “let seven men from his (Saul’s) sons be given to us, and we will hang them before the Lord in Gibeah of Saul…”. Gibeah was where Saul grew up, his home town. The Gibeonites were within their rights to ask for these deaths and King David had little choice in the matter. So David chose the two sons of Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, and the five sons of Merab, the daughter of Saul. These innocent young men were then all hanged together at the first days of harvest, probably in the middle of April.
Then we see a remarkable, extraordinary sight. Rizpah takes sackcloth and spreads it upon the rock. She stays there five months for just one purpose! Day and night, day after day and week after week, she beats off the birds of the air and the beasts of the fields off of her sons so they cannot desecrate the bodies and pick the flesh off of her sons and probably Merab’s too. We see a powerful comparison with the Parable of the Sower’s Birdie of the Air to these birds of the air.
In Rizpah we see a true Portrait of an Intercessor! She humbly stayed on the rock and without ceasing beat those birds and wild beasts off her sons. If only we would do the same in prayer. Get down on our knees and in prayer and through the power of the Holy Spirit on our Rock, Jesus Christ, beat the birdie of the air (the enemy) off our children, off our loved ones, off our church and city and country.
One more point here, this was a generational curse. These boys were innocent but because their father/grandfather sinned they were hung in shame. Often we need to come against generational curses in our own lives and our children’s lives and our family! Sometimes our family or we ourselves are oppressed or there are open doors for the enemy to harass us. We need to intercess and beat that birdie of the air off and those wild beasts off so we can be victorious in our walk with Jesus Christ.
That is not the end of the story. Because of Rizpah’s selfless task of protecting her children, King David brought Saul and Jonathan’s bones back and took those sons and grandsons and buried them all with honor. The shame was gone and those boys were honored by the King.
Rizpah stayed there at Gibeah on the rock beating the birds of the air and the wild beasts off for 5 months from April to October. In October there was finally rain, after three years famine was broken and the nation was blessed and returned to prosperity. Praise God!
Do not give up on praying and interceding! Earlier this year the Lord gave me a scripture, Isaiah 49:25b, “For I will contend with the one who contends with you, And I will save your sons.” Who contends with me? The devil, the enemy of my life and soul, but the Lord said He would battle with Satan on my behalf. Then the rest of the verse says—and I will save your sons! God would save my children!!! We can trust in the Lord to fulfill His Word. The devil is a liar and God is Truth!
When you intercess and beat off the birdie of the air for your children, speak the Word of God over them!
“All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.” Isaiah 54:13
“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
“For I will contend with the one who contends with you, And I will save your sons.” Isaiah 49:25
I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Psalms 37:25 (NIV)
These are just a few scriptures for your children and grandchildren. I encourage you to be the prayer God wants you to be. When you are obedient to God, you will be blessed!
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesian 3:20