We left yesterday with a real mess. The Levite was threatened by the people of the tribe of Benjamin. The owner of the house offered up his daughter and the Levite’s concubine instead. The people raped and killed the concubine. The Levite took her body home, chopped it into twelve pieces, and sent a piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. They were officially as bad as (if not worse than) Sodom and Gomorrah right before fire rained down on them.
Then all the people of Israel came out, from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, and the congregation assembled as one man to the LORD at Mizpah. And the chiefs of all the people, of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 men on foot that drew the sword. (Judges 20:1-2 ESV)
They asked the Levite what this was all about and he told them what had happened. They committed to make Gibeah and Benjamin pay for what they had done that night, focusing on the people who committed the crime.
So all the men of Israel gathered against the city, united as one man. And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What evil is this that has taken place among you? Now therefore give up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and purge evil from Israel.” But the Benjaminites would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the people of Israel. (Judges 20:11-13 ESV)
Instead of giving up the perpetrators, the tribe of Benjamin protected them from prosecution and death. They tried to keep the evil alive among them. The other eleven tribes of Israel tried to fix this, but it just kept getting worse.
Then the people of Benjamin came together out of the cities to Gibeah to go out to battle against the people of Israel. And the people of Benjamin mustered out of their cities on that day 26,000 men who drew the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah, who mustered 700 chosen men. Among all these were 700 chosen men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. And the men of Israel, apart from Benjamin, mustered 400,000 men who drew the sword; all these were men of war. The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, “Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?” And the LORD said, “Judah shall go up first.” Then the people of Israel rose in the morning and encamped against Gibeah. And the men of Israel went out to fight against Benjamin, and the men of Israel drew up the battle line against them at Gibeah. (Judges 20:14-20 ESV)
By the time all was said and done, 50,000 Israelite warriors were dead. In addition, over 25,000 warriors from the tribe of Benjamin were dead, along with the women and children. Six hundred warriors from the tribe of Benjamin escaped and the remaining eleven tribes had compassion on them, so their inheritance among Israel would not be stomped out.
They had already made an oath not to give their daughters in marriage to the tribe of Benjamin because of what they had done. So, they checked to see who did not show up at the meeting where 400,000 gathered together. The clan of Jabesh-gilead did not show up, so the Israelites went and destroyed everyone in that clan (for not showing up at the meeting – talk about rough office politics!) and brought all the virgin daughters (400 in all) back to be wives for the remaining warriors from Benjamin. The remaining 200 warriors were instructed to kidnap 200 of the daughters from Shiloh, a part of Israel, when they had a big festival there. That way, none of the Israelites “gave” their daughters in marriage to the Benjamites. What a mess.
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25 ESV)
There are two things that strike me about this summary statement from the book of Judges. First, without a king we all run the risk of doing evil because it is right in our own eyes. Second, Israel did have a King. They just didn’t acknowledge God as their King.
We need a King as well. Otherwise, we run the risk of doing evil because it is right in our own eyes as well. Just because something is right from “my perspective” does not make it right. It simply shows my perspective. God designed us. God created us. God knows how we are supposed to function and work and live. God has already defined what is right and wrong. God’s perspective is the one that counts. God, then, is our rightful King.
How about you? Do you need a King? Is God your King?