The Gospel According to the Gittites
In the Bible is a special group of people called the Gittites. These people are from one of the five cities of the Philistines. The five cities of the Philistines according to I Samuel 6:16-17 are Ashdod, Gaza, Askelon, Gath, and Ekron. Joshua 13:3 uses special names for the people from these five cities. These names are as follows: for the people from Gaza the book of Joshua calls them Gazathites. From Ashdod it calls them Ashdothites. From the city of Askelon the book of Joshua calls them Eshkalonites. From Ekron the book of Joshua calls them Ekronites. From the city of Gath the book of Joshua calls them Gittites.
Now that we have identified Gittites as people from the Philistine city of Gath lets us see some of the things in the Bible about Gittites. We know that the most famous citizen of the city of Gath is Goliath the 9 foot tall giant who defied Israel and who was slain by David. I Samuel 17.
We also know that Goliath had four giant brothers, and a giant for a father. So it would appear that Gath had some interesting family history and some famous people who dwelt in that city. II Samuel 21:15-22
But the focus of this brief study is the gospel according to the Gittites. In the Old Testament people often have the idea that there is not gospel just the legal code of Leviticus. But the Bible tells a completely different story. The Bible is full of the gospel and the gospel runs all through the Bible from the time of the first sin and God going to find Adam and Eve and offering them His garments. Genesis 3:21. The fact that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and built the ark for the saving of mankind. Then we know that Abraham taught the gospel according to Galatians 3:6-9. Then Paul says that the gospel was preached to Israel while in the wilderness. Hebrews 4:2. We also know of the gospel story Rahab and Ruth and how wonderful and simply beautiful those stories are. But two of the most beautiful gospel stories in the Bible involve Gittites.
Our first story takes place on the road from Kirjathjearim to Jerusalem. II Samuel 6. David was seeking to move the Ark of the Covenant into a special place in Jerusalem. David, and Israel, had placed the Ark on a new cart and it was being driven by the sons of Abinadab. On the way to Jerusalem the oxen stumbled and Uzzah, one of the sons of Abinadab, put his hand out to stabilize the Ark and when he touched the Ark the Lord slew Uzzah. Patriarchs and Prophets 705-706 indicates that not only had David erred in putting the Ark on a cart in violation of the commandment of God that only the Kohathites would bear the Ark on staves on their shoulders, Numbers 4:1-15; 7:9 but that Uzzah had unconfessed sins upon him and he had presumed to touch the Ark of the Covenant in an unrepentant state. Thus God slew Uzzah to be sure that Israel got the message and He did not have to slay others for their sins of neglect.
When Uzzah had been slain David felt insecure lest a similar thing might happen to him and he had the Ark placed in the house of Obededom the Gittite. All Israel watched this event with great interest to see if Obededom would be slain because he was a stranger in the land and he was from the dreaded country of the Philistines who were constantly at war with Israel. They watched for three months and all that belonged to Obededom was blessed. II Samuel 6:11. When David heard that Obededom was blessed with the presence of the Ark of the Covenant he gathered courage and went to the house of Obededom and removed the Ark and started on their way to Jerusalem. This time they had learned their lessons, went back and studied this issue out in the Bible and learned that they needed to have the sons of Kohath carry the Ark on their shoulders. Since they had learned their lessons well God blessed them and allowed them to take the Ark into the city and place it in its temporary placement where it would stay until the time that Solomon had built the temple unto the Lord.
The gospel story here is that Obededom’s heritage was that of the Philistines. His environment had taught him that there was a difference between the religious activities of the Philistines and that of the people of Israel. We are not told the details but it becomes plain that Obededom had observed enough in the wars between Israel and the Philistines cities that the God of Israel was the One True God and that Obededom must have chosen to follow the God of Israel. We know this to be the case that when the Ark of the Covenant was at the house of Obededom he, and his household, were blessed by this special token of God’s favor to him. What a blessing this must have been to his family and his standing in the Israelite community. God Himself must have brought this blessing on His child to reveal His close thinking about Obededom and to reveal to us today that even the Philistines could be influenced to choose the God of Israel as their God.
Our second story happens some years later in the story of David. He is in the process of preparing to flee from the threatening of his son Absalom. As it happened the day before David was to leave Jerusalem and exile from Gath of the Philistines had arrived at Jerusalem to join David and Israel. The man’s name was Ittai and he brought himself, his family, and the families of the 600 soldiers that he brought with him. II Samuel 15:18-22. What a marvelous story that 601 soldiers from the armies of the Philistines had chosen to join their mortal enemy David of Israel. They not only came but they brought their families as well for they had no intentions of returning to Gath. They had had an experience similar to that of Ruth and like Ruth Ittai made his confession before God. He said “As the Lord liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also with thy servant be. And David said to Ittai, Go and pass over. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him.” II Samuel 21-22; Ruth 1:16 This is clear testimony of the power of God to save from any group of people who have heard and seen the power of God in the lives of His people.
God knows who His people are and He has been calling anyone who would be willing to listen to His call. Like Rahab and Ruth God is no respecter of persons. Anyone who wants to listen to Him and who is willing to follow Him wherever He goes, (Revelation 14:1-5) is acceptable in His sight through the merits of His Son. God has been, and will always be calling, to any and all who will follow Him by faith and love. This is the gospel of God displayed in the lives of His children from Gath. This testimony is to us that we might believe in the grace of God who never changes. He has always been working with sinners and He will be willing to save anyone who wants to be saved. Let us go forth in the power of the gospel and reveal these truths to all who will be willing to hear about the Love of God. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world.