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Judges 19





If I could be real honest with you…  By the way, that doesn’t mean I have made a practice of being dishonest with you… It just means if I could be real honest with you right now, I would have to confess that when we chose Judges for our daily devotions I not only knew this chapter was coming but also I actually kind of dreaded getting to this chapter.  The reason is this chapter presents a most difficult story. I couldn’t get any of the other pastors to tackle this one.  So, here goes…

This chapter starts out with what is now a familiar refrain in this book: “In those days, there was no king in Israel”.  As I have said previously Israel had a King.  He was in fact King of kings and Lord of lords.  And His law dictated not only religious life but also civil life for the nation.  But the people had turned away from their rightful King and chose to ignore His law.  As a result the downward spiraling of Israel was gaining speed.

This story centers on another Levite, like the one we read about in the previous two chapters.  Remember the Levites were not priests but had responsibilities at the Tabernacle as well as responsibilities to teach God’s Word to God’s people.  As you read the chapter it appears this Levite either wasn’t very familiar with God’s Word or chose to be very blind to it.

The issue of concubines comes up in a variety of places in the Old Testament.  It is important to remember that God did not command men to have concubines or encourage them to have concubines.  But the Law does dictate how concubines should be treated.  They were considered wives.  Children that they bore would have been considered legitimate but did not necessarily become heirs to their father’s property.  A concubine would have been, in many ways, a second class citizen who would have been guaranteed only food, clothing, and marital privileges.

The particular concubine in this story had been unfaithful to this Levite.  She eventually returned to her dad.  The Levite obviously thought enough of this woman to forgive her and go get her.  After several nights of partying with her dad the Levite, his concubine, and his servant left to go back home.

They arrived in Gibeah which was populated by Benjamites (Israelites) to spend the night.  With the exception of one old man, everyone else in the town refused to give the Levite, his concubine, and his servant lodging for the night.  This was a violation of Old Testament Law as well as of an important tradition of the East.

In a scene that is eerily similar to Sodom, a group of men come to the old man’s house and demand the Levite be given to them so they could have sex with him.  The old man refused and instead offered them his virgin daughter.  As revolting as that is and should be to us, it is evidence of how some men in that era placed no value on women.  It is not clear from the text whether the virgin daughter was actually given to the gang or not but we do know the concubine was forced out. 

She was horribly abused and died as a result of that abuse.  The Levite took her corpse to his home, cut it into twelve pieces and sent those pieces throughout all of Israel.  This is an unspeakable act that was neither commanded nor condoned by God.  The Levite obviously wanted to “rally the troops” against the men of Gibeah for their atrocities.  But the ironic reality is the Levite was actually responsible for her death because he forced her to go to those men.

So what are we to take away from this story?  Among other things, we just need to be reminded that when individuals and/or cultures reject God and turn away from His Law horrible things become not only commonplace but almost accepted.  Our challenge is to intentionally stay closely connected to God and to follow His Law regardless of personal cost.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Judges 20





The chapter today is a continuation of the gruesome and horrible story that we encountered yesterday.  Remember that the Levite cut the murdered concubine into twelve pieces and sent those throughout the nation of Israel.  Undoubtedly the Levite got the response he desired.

As this chapter opens, the people of Israel have gathered an army of 400,000.  They questioned the Levite who did indeed tell the story.  But, as you might remember, he didn’t tell all of the story.  Because he was the one who put the concubine out of the house that night, he was at least somewhat complicit in her death.  But he just seemed to skip right over that part of the story.

To Israel’s credit they attempted to get the people of Benjamin to turn in the men who did this horrible thing.  Interestingly enough the people of Benjamin refused to do that. Instead they gathered an army of 26,000 with an additional 700 men who were experts with the slingshot.

As the story continues two numbers just jumped out at me.  The first one is that Israel lost 40,000 soldiers in the first two battles.  I cannot fathom that many casualties in just two battles.  The second number is that Benjamin lost 25,000 men in one battle.  And remember they only had 26,000 in their army to begin with.

As the chapter draws to a close we find that there were 600 Benjamites who survived and were hiding at the natural fortress called the Rock of Rimmon.

So what are we supposed to take away from this chapter?  There are at least a couple of things that should be considered.

First, the wages of sin is death.  We often think about that truth on an individual level and it certainly applies that way.  But here we encounter the difficult truth that individual sin can create havoc on a much broader scale.  The sin of those “worthless fellows in Gibeah” ultimately resulted in the death of as many as 65,000 people.  Sin has consequences.

Second, there will always be a remnant of God’s people.  Because God chose Israel to be His people, His covenant with them has no end to it.  Throughout history there have been attempts to totally wipeout the Jewish nation.  All of those attempts failed.  God has always protected a remnant of His people.  And out of that remnant the nation of Israel has continually been reborn.

In this story, we see what is almost the total destruction of one of the tribes of Israel.  But God allowed a remnant of Benjamin (those 600 men who hid at the Rock of Rimmon) to survive.  And out of that remnant, the tribe of Benjamin would be repopulated.

We should never doubt the strength of God’s promises.  And we should always be thankful that His promises are based upon His good and holy character not our weak and often sinful character.  God’s plan is the only plan and regardless of what the circumstances may look like, His plan will always prevail.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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