Day 96

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Judges 19:1-21-25 (NLT)

Martha Balkin, Worship and Arts

When I described today’s verses to a friend of mine, she said, “Wow! That sounds like an episode of Law and Order: SVU!” I told Pastor Scott that I really preferred writing about the New Testament, but, not surprisingly, that didn’t get me off the hook. So, I returned to Judges to try and understand what lesson such a horrible story could have for me.

I read again about the awful relationship between the man and his concubine, the appalling men of the town where they were staying, and the devastating revenge war on the tribe of Benjamin, and wondered what God wanted me to learn. And as simple as it sounds, the answer came from Judges 21:25, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”

Everything was wrong in this story: the man and his concubine were not getting along–either because she was unfaithful or he was angry. Her father continually detained the pair. The people of Gibeah were at first inhospitable and ultimately violent and murderous. The twelve tribes were split and at war, and the human losses were huge. Everything was out of whack because all of the people just did “whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”

It’s tempting to make comparisons to today’s world and its ills, but the bottom line is that we all need a King—a Savior and Redeemer. When we go our own way, nothing makes sense, and it’s difficult to find a good message or outcome. When our trust is in the Lord, however, and our eyes are fixed on what He tells us is right, the victory is ours.

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4 responses »

  1. Thanks Martha,

    Your devotional lead me to this verse;

    Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;

    in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

  2. This segment of the Bible is filled with extremes. There’s the extravagant hospitality of the concubine’s father, the extreme inhospitality of the men of Gibeah, the horrible death of the concubine, the radical call-to-arms by the Levite, the wild genocide against Benjamin, the crazy oath by the rest of the tribes about marriage with Benjamin, the two equally crazy ways of getting brides for Benjamin. The Jews may have followed the letter of the Law on occasion, but they certainly missed the spirit of the law throughout this whole event.

    Contrast this history with the history of Ruth, which happened around the same time. Judges 19-21 shows wrong choices and sinful behavior; Ruth shows right choices and righteous behavior.

    Choices have consequences. God is gracious, but He is also holy. May we strive to follow the Spirit of the Law and not just the letter (“…who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6).

  3. Reading these painful chapters today got me thinking about this new testament scripture.
    “ Live in harmony with one another.” – Rom. 12:16 It sent me looking up some definitions.

    Harmony: “The combination of different musical notes played or sung at the same time to produce a pleasing sound.”
    Discord: “An unpleasant combination of musical notes.”

    When reading today’s account of Israel’s civil war, I see so much discord that must have broken God’s heart! He had blessed the twelve tribes, and had given each of them a part to play in His great symphony of redemption. How sad that one section of the orchestra decided to ignore the Conductor, make up their own tune, and caused such a mess of the score! I guess we can bring the story up to the present, and see how the Christian church has often “made up their own tune” as well, causing discord. And how about us? Our family may only be a “quartet” – but we’re still called by God to live in harmony and play our part well. Oh Lord, may my little tune be in perfect harmony with others today…as I keep my eyes on You, the Conductor.

  4. I agree, Martha. The story begins and ends with the lack of a king. All the gory details in between are the consequences of that state. Lord, if ever I needed You, I need You now and forever!

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