In God’s grace, a link is formed in all the tragedy between the people of Jabesh Gilead and the Tribe of Benjamin. This becomes important later in Saul’s time. Most of the population of Jabesh Gilead apparently escaped, as the history related in 1 Samuel 11 testifies. The refrain in these two stories is: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” Lawlessness destroys. The people need a Messiah!
“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Again the lesson is hammered home in this passage – Religion without the Holy Spirit is useless, broken and fractured.
Israel wanted to do something good for Benjamin. They didn’t want their brother tribe to die out.
But the means by which they went about solving the issue (and reasons for the decisions) did not bring about peace.
As always though we see the Lord working good through our broken behaviour.
We can be thankful again that in Jesus we have a king who always does what is right. And right in the eyes of His Father.
We can follow Him, doing what He tells us, because we have His Spirit living within – Making our dead hearts alive, pointing us to Him each day.
Hallelujah, what a Saviour!
* Father God Above,
These passages are full of trouble and terrible actions and bad decision-making.
But You work good through them!
Thank You Lord that You do the same in our lives, working good despite the folly that we choose.
Please refine us each day, make us more like Jesus.
Benjamin is almost destroyed as a Tribe of Israel! The message is that religion cannot make any difference in itself. We need the Lord Himself, the work of the Holy Spirit! Benjamin puts family first above all other considerations. This is misplaced loyalty because it puts family in God’s place. It destroyed them except for the grace of God!
It can seem a bit strange that the tribe of Benjamin would stand with the men of Gibeah and defend them and their actions of the previous reading.
The tribal architecture of Israel would have surely made it hard to make the sort of decision we might think they should have made – But then today we see the same temptation around us. To choose human bonds and community over what God has laid down.
The men of Gibeah were acting in gross perversion, they were broken individuals who needed a better saviour than the judges we have been reading of.
Religion on its own is worthless. Without the Holy Spirit at work in us we are useless vessels, hopeless and helpless.
Now, just as then, we need to stand firm in the word of God – Informed each day by God and His wisdom, His voice being the voice in our heads! Our lives built on Him and Him alone.
He is our rock, our deliverance!
* Gracious Father God,
Please use these records of Israel’s history with judges to refine us as we read them – Please write Your word on our hearts!
You are our strength and our refuge Lord God,
Please equip us each day to go about what You would have us do with all our heart, mind and strength.
The second story is about another Levite and his common-law wife. They have relationship problems and she runs home to father. What happens to her is an indescribable horror – due to the behaviour of her husband as well as that of the men of Benjamin.
“No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing.”
Today’s passage gives us clear insight into what happens when people reject the Lord and do what is right in their own eyes.
Sin is not fun. Sin does not bring about good for society, or for individuals. There is no bright side to sin.
What horror we read here, and yet this is the truth of what happens when we reject God.
Our hearts go after our own desires, and we seek to destroy what is good and upright, what the Lord has set down as how to live under His rule.
This passage is such a powerful reminder to us, a pointer for us – We need Jesus! Only He can break the grip of sin, only He can make our hearts new again!
* God Above,
This passage is a hard read – Please open our hearts to understand what You want for each of us to learn from Your word today.
Thank You Lord God for Jesus – Who saves us from our sin.