Robert C. Merriman


The king asked of the Gibeonites,
‘How shall I make amends
‘For the previous king’s misdeeds?’
The Gibeonites replied,
‘Let seven of his male descendants be given us
‘To be killed and exposed before the Lord.’
The king agreed, and gave over
Armoni and Mephiboseth, sons of Rizpah,
And five sons of Merab.
When it was done as the Gibeonites said,
Famine left the land.

How was it done, with those selected?
Did the king say, “Come,”
And the male descendants obeyed?
Did the king’s soldiers
Take those selected from home and family,
With orders to those who grieved,
‘Go back home,’ as with Abner and Paltiel?
Perhaps the king said,
‘It is for the good of the land,’
And the sons of the land agreed
It was so.

It is the way of kings,
To take the sons of fathers and mothers,
To run those sons before chariots,
To send those sons to death
On a hill in another land.