Judges 21

Does this just get more and more absurd?  The Israelites decimate the Benjamites and then they are concerned that they will be wiped out so they come up with a plan to restore them.  But they don't want to give them any of their women so they do what is right in their own eyes again - destroying another city and then encouraging the men of Benjamin to steal girls who were celebrating in the fields.

These chapters are graphic and absurd reminders of what happens when we turn our backs on God's ways and pursue what we subjectively feel is right.  Moral, spiritual and social decay are inevitable.  


Judges 20

This chapter continues the story of the Levite and his concubine.

Taking the body home, the Levite cut it into pieces and set the pieces throughout Israel. Shocked, the people gathered to hear the Levite’s report (which carefully avoided mentioning his own cowardly part). In self-righteous anger, the tribes decide to punish Gibeah, instead of allowing this incident to point out the deeper problem in all their lives...disobedience to God's ways.
When the men of Benjamin would not surrender their relatives in Gibeah, a civil war erupts.  Many thousands are killed, and the tribe of Benjamin is all but wiped out.
It is amazing how far these Israelites have fallen away from God in two short generations.  Remember Joshua 22, when all Israel was ready to punish Rueben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh because it looked like they were beginning to sin?  Now a generation or two later, the Benjamites are protecting and defending the sinners.

Here is a thought for us today as we find ourselves living in a society where everyone does what is right in their own eyes...when God's ways are abandoned and everyone is okay with doing what seems right to them, we are on our way towards certain destruction.  Time for God's people to stand up and make a difference, by first repenting of our own unrighteousness and by living lives that proclaim the truth of God to the world around us.

Judges 19

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death...

 The ways that had seemed “right” to Israel led to the depths of depravity, to unbelievable moral decay, and to death. So much more than physical death is pictured in this dark incident.

*There is the death of love. The Old Testament Law taught a person to love God and to love others as himself. Here was a Levite, who represented instruction in God’s Law—selfishly thrusting his concubine out to a group of depraved perverts. The capacity to care for others dies when one deserts God’s ways.

*There is the death of identity. The Levite and the old man with whom he stayed both showed that they viewed women as something less than human. In the Creation, woman was taken from man’s ribs as a vivid affirmation of her identity with man. Woman was created second, but is not secondary. She is of the same stuff as man; with man she bears the image of God and bears the privilege of dominion.

With the loss of the divine viewpoint, which came with abandonment of Israel’s legacy of Law, there came the loss of woman’s identity. Distortion of the divine plan brought a measure of death to men and women alike, for in denying woman full humanity, man denies himself.

*There is a death of image. Man was made in the image of God, with a personality to reflect the personality of the Creator.  Jude sees them doing “by instinct, like unreasoning animals” the very things which destroy them (Jude 10). The depravity exhibited by the Benjamites clearly shows the degradation which comes when men lose sight of their divine image and deny their origins in Him.


The Teacher's Commentary

Judges 18

 The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. 29 They named it Dan after their forefather Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish. 30 There the Danites set up for themselves the idols, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. 31 They continued to use the idols Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.

Big picture is the understanding that people continue to do what is right in their own eyes, they have rejected God as their ruler.  Now what they have is religion because they have lost relationship with God.  So they go through all these motions that seem godly but it is truly devoid of God.  Before I get all self-righteous on them I wonder how often I may be guilty of doing just that?  Going through motions that seem godly but the relationship with God is non-existent.  It explains why these Israelites could say they were God-followers and yet commit many atrocious acts without any sense of remorse.

The other thing that saddens me is the heritage that these Danites were leaving for future generations.  Until the captivity of the land they people of Dan continued to use the idols instead of worshipping and serving Yahweh.  Isn't that the problem with sin, it never just affects those who commit it, it has far-reaching effects.  We need to be careful what kind of legacy we leave behind, because it persists.  Let's choose to do the right thing so that the legacy we leave behind is a godly one.

Judges 17

 6 In those days there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing.

Does this story sound absurd to you?  A man steals money from his mother and then when she finds out it was him she blesses him.  Huh?!  The rest of the story is just as sad and absurd, but that is exactly what happens when we choose to do whatever we feel like doing.  Today in our thinking we embody that exact way of thinking - there is no absolute truth only what we feel is right for us.  Of course that degenerates very quickly if we think about it, for example...sexual preference may sound good to describe homosexuality but it degenerates when it means preying on little children.  But think about it, isn't it still sexual preference?  That is what happens when we do whatever is "right in our own eyes." It is why we have the absolutes of God's Word.

God should have been the King of Israel, but the people had made themselves the rulers and deposed God.  The results of an unsubmitted life to God can be read in the entire book of Judges.  We need to make Him our Lord.  The people of Israel wanted God the Savior but they needed to realize as we must be reminded of in our day, that we cannot have the one without the other - He must simultaneously be our Saviour and our Lord.  And when He is the Lord of our lives we no longer do whatever we feel like doing, but we do what He would have us do. 

If He is our Lord then what are the implications and actions?  For starters we must seek to know what His will is.  We must discover who He is and what is His purpose for us.  Then we must choose to do His will and purpose for us.

Judges 16

The story of Samson is a sad one because we see someone who was given a great gift from God for the purposes of helping God's people but instead of using it for the honor and glory of God, Samson used it for personal gain and notoriety.  Before I get too self-righteous though I guess it would be good to look in the mirror and ask, "Have I used the gifts of God for personal and selfish gain instead of for the primary purpose of bringing honor and glory to God?"  Many of us are as self-centered and selfish as Samson, squandering the blessings and gifting of God on pursuits that are not what God would have us do.  

Yet Samson's life has a redemptive side because it is ultimately a story about God's faithfulness in spite of our human weakness.  God's hand can be seen throughout the story.  In Samson being empowered by the Holy Spirit and God desiring to use him to subdue the Philistines.  Even in the Samson's last stand God used it as a way to show His power and might over the Philistine God Dagon. 

In the midst of human weakness God is at work.  Phew, that's good to know, but think how much greater the work of God can be if we choose to truly partner with Him instead of putting our agenda above His.


Judges 15

Samson is selfish and self-centered.  He expects the world to revolve around him.  In this chapter we see him wanting revenge for something that was of his own doing.  The story gives us a good example of what happens when we seek revenge, hostilities escalate and more and more harm is done.  Maybe the Philistines deserved what Samson did to them, but notice that in each instance Samson was acting for himself and not his people.  His motive was revenge rather than deliverance of God's people.

Here is a good lesson for those who lead - we are called to serve God's people not our personal agenda. 


Judges 14

4 But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord . . .

The writer here reveals the prevailing view of the Israelite people about life: God is dynamic; he works in history through people. He is ever-present and all-powerful. With him all things are possible; without him, nothing. God does act in mysterious ways not always comprehensible to us.  So, do you believe that view?  Do your life-actions reveal that belief?

16 Then Samson's wife threw herself on him, sobbing, "You hate me! You don't really love me. You've given my people a riddle, but you haven't told me the answer." 
      "I haven't even explained it to my father or mother," he replied, "so why should I explain it to you?" 17 She cried the whole seven days of the feast.

Run Samson run.  Learn your lesson now before it is too late.  These women will take you down!!!

Judges 13

Godly parents.

 Manoah and his wife display qualities of godly parents. They believe the promise of a son. They ask God “to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born”. Yet Samson was far from the godly, dedicated person we might expect to come from such a home. In a way, this story is a blessing for godly parents whose children disappoint. We can do our best, and even do everything “right,” and still see our children make wrong choices. Each person is responsible to God for the choices he or she makes, and there is nothing we can do to force a son or daughter in the right direction. Samson was even given the Spirit of God, and still made poor and selfish decisions!

(The Bible Reader's Companion)


Judges 12

 1 The men of Ephraim called out their forces, crossed over to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, "Why did you go to fight the Ammonites without calling us to go with you? We're going to burn down your house over your head.

Jealously and prejudice are terrible things and causes much disunity among people.  The Ephraim-ites are making a power play because they probably want the distinction of having the judge come from their tribe (you know how we like our bragging rights).  So they go over and pick a fight with Jephthah.  They start with the name calling and prejudice, telling Jephthah that they are less than the rest of the Israelites.  It's funny that these are people from the same descendants yet because they are from the other side of the river they are somehow less than the rest of the tribes on the other side.  Wow.  Isn't it funny how we find anything to differentiate ourselves and exalt ourselves over others?  Yet the Bible reminds us constantly that with God there is no distinction based on your money, upbringing, color of skin, where you were born, or whatever other creative way we find to be prejudiced.

Let us learn from the mistakes of others that prejudice destroys unity and it is not God's desire for us.  

You don't have to post it but ask the Holy Spirit to point out some of the areas of prejudice in our own lives that we need to lay down.  
How about jealously?  Are you antagonistic towards others because of jealously?