Chapter 19 is hard to read. I find myself physically bothered.
“Now the sons of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and inquired of God and said, ‘Who shall go up first for us to battle against the sons of Benjamin?’ Then the LORD said, ‘Judah shall go up first.'” (20:18)
The only reason I plucked out this verse was because it felt like it had been a real while since I saw the sentence, “then the LORD said.” He’s been left out of a lot lately. He’s seemingly involved here, though.
This horrific story doubles as an unfortunate origin story for the future King Saul. Gibeah was his home town. A real slap to Israel’s face and perhaps why Saul hides in the luggage when he’s chosen as king. These are dark days, a stain, in their history.
It seems each horrible action has an even worse repercussion:
- Towns people harass their neighbor.
- A woman is raped to death.
- Said woman is dismembered and sent around the country.
- An army is formed and bloody civil war ensues.
- An entire tribe is almost destroyed.
- An “innocent” (hard to say for sure) people-group is murdered–save 400 virgins who had just witnessed the death of their families.
- They are forced to marry the few survivors of a civil war, forced to marry the kind of men who would harass their neighbors and rape a woman to death.
This is not justice. This is death begetting death. This is injustice snow-balling.
As easy as it is to judge these people, let’s never take our eyes off ourselves. We’re all capable of being pretty horrible when we allow our offenses to snow-ball.
Are there any feuds in your life? Long standing enemies? Opportunities to take a bad situation and make it worse?
Let’s take a look at our offenses and ask the LORD about restoration and justice. How can He lead you to resolve? How can you avoid escalating things?
Thankfully, tomorrow we dive back into the Psalms, staring with the first two stanzas of chapter 119. That will be refreshing, I think.