After the children of Israel saw the results of the sin that took place in Gibeah, they assembled armies and prepared for retribution. The man whose concubine died tells them the story of what happened and the armies commit to taking vengeance on Gibeah, where the concubine was victimized by the evil men.
The tribe of Benjamin resides in or near Gibeah. The other tribes together inquire of them about the wicked deed. They also ask the tribe of Benjamin to hand over the evil men. But instead Benjamin took up arms against the other children of Israel.
Judah is decreed to go first into battle. The children of Israel are defeated twice by the forces of Benjamin, each time asking God whether they should continue fighting. God says yes each time. The third time they ask, God says yes once more and also says that He will deliver Benjamin into their hands.
Using a new battle strategy was the providential tool needed to defeat Benjamin on this third day. The children of Israel took the city of Gibeah and set the whole city up in smoke. They chased the Benjamites, killing and pursuing them into the wilderness. Only 600 Benjamites escaped to the rock of Rimmon for about four months. The Israelites continued hunting down and killing Benjamites among the cities, burning every city they came to.
This violence served to repay the evil that took place in Gibeah under Benjamin. In light of so much carnage, what is the spiritual application for this chapter? Well, there is a sequence that we can follow, revealing learning opportunities from these events:
– Had the Israelites driven out all of the inhabitants of the land as instructed by God, this evil influence would not have manifested
– Had the Benjamites been true to God, they would not have endorsed and protected the sinful activity taking place in Gibeah
– The punishment of the city of Gibeah and the tribe of Benjamin, however horrible and severe, cannot compare with eternal punishment, where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:47-48)
These last chapters of the book of Judges are sobering, but let that not take away from their importance: to ignore God is not only folly, to ignore God is death.
Take comfort, rest and instruction then from the Lord. In Him are all the answers, protection and love that a soul could ever need. God is great and merciful and His grace reaches every one of us that seek it.
Tonight let us conclude this study of Judges 20 with an uplifting meditation on God’s salvation of His people, for those that follow, have faith and obey. As we read this chapter, compare the discussion of the righteous and the wicked with the children of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin and Gibeah the wicked city. Also consider the battle that rages daily in the human heart, the struggle to do what is right amidst a sea of temptations. Commit to righteousness!
“Hear a just cause, O LORD, Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from Your presence; Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.
You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Concerning the works of men, By the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.
Uphold my steps in Your paths, That my footsteps may not slip.
I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.
Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust in You From those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, From the wicked who oppress me, From my deadly enemies who surround me.
They have closed up their fat hearts; With their mouths they speak proudly. They have now surrounded us in our steps; They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth, As a lion is eager to tear his prey, And like a young lion lurking in secret places.
Arise, O LORD, Confront him, cast him down; Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword, With Your hand from men, O LORD, From men of the world who have their portion in this life, And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure.
They are satisfied with children, And leave the rest of their possession for their babes.
As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”