As we read through these stories in the book of Judges, it’s simply heart-breaking. The writer of the book of, who may have been Samuel, once again tells us that there was no king in Israel at that time (Judges 19:1). They didn’t have a human king and neither were they following the King of kings, so chaos abounded.
Warren Wiersbe aptly said, “The sad history of Israel moves now from idolatry to immorality and civil war. If sin is not dealt with, it spreads like a plague and destroys. The basic cause of Israel’s plight was their independence from God and their indifference to His law. Nothing can be right when every man does what is right in his own eyes. It was a time of moral and spiritual darkness (Isaiah 8:20).”
We read of a man who was a Levite, from the remote mountains of Ephraim whose concubine left him to go home to Bethlehem and a life of harlotry. The man traveled to Bethlehem to bring her home.
Judges 19:3 (NKJV) “Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back…”
The Levite was not a good example of a godly leader. He lacked discernment and treated his concubine as mere property. It took a couple of days, and he left a little late, but the man eventually headed home with his concubine and servant. Rather than staying in a city of “non-believers,” he traveled a little further, choosing instead to spend the night in Gibeah, thinking it would be safer. What transpires next is absolutely tragic. First the men of the city surround the house they were staying in saying, “Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him carnally.” Believe you me, they didn’t want to talk – these were perverted men (Judges 19:22), they were aggressive homosexuals. It doesn’t get any better after that – the men in the house offer the women to these perverts, who abuse them all night long. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this take place, it sounds eerily similar to what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:5-10).
The next day the woman dies and the man does something absolutely horrendous. He dismembers the woman and sends different pieces of her body to the twelve tribes of Israel. It shouldn’t take this type of behavior to arouse a nation, but sure enough, he gets everyone’s attention and they gather together from Dan to Beersheeba (the northern and southern extremities of Israel) as one man in Mizpah.
The civil war that follows between the eleven tribes of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin heaps heartache upon heartache. Initially the eleven tribes are defeated, losing forty thousand men in the first two battles. But after fasting and praying with burnt offerings and peace offering, the eleven tribes are granted such a victory that the tribe of Benjamin was almost eliminated (only six hundred men remained).
As we read these tragic stories, we’re reminded of what can happen to a people who have rejected God as their final authority. The last verse in Judges describes what happened then, and what is rapidly taking place in our own nation:
Judges 21:25 (NKJV) “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
John the Baptist was the forerunner to Christ, he was the “point-man,” simply sent to point others to Jesus. John’s disciples were having a hard time realizing that their ministry was coming to an end, but they shouldn’t have. John and his guys had finished that part of their work; the friend of the bridegroom should only rejoice when the bride and bridegroom come together.
John brought a couple of things up that all ministers need to keep in mind:
John 3:27b (NKJV) “…A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.”
John 3:30 (NKJV) “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
God is the one who determines, when, where, how many, and all the rest. It’s not up to us and it’s not about us…as a matter of fact, the heart we need to have is that the people would only be drawn to Jesus (not us). This can be difficult due to our pride. Sandy Adams said, “Glorifying Christ is easy when you are making a name for yourself at the same time. Are you willing to bow out for others to behold Him?”
We need to keep in mind, the Father’s love for His Son, the inheritance of His Son (John 3:35). and the life through His Son (John 3:36).
Our options are set before us without any ambiguity:
John 3:36 (NKJV) “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
It was time for Jesus to move on (John 4:3). For one, the Pharisees heard that He (it was actually Jesus’ disciples) baptized more people than John the Baptist and it wasn’t time to stir up that kind of trouble. Secondly, and more importantly, we’ll see next time, thatJesus wanted to reach out to a Samaritan woman, so He, “…needed to go through Samaria.” (John 4:4)
We continue with this Psalm of praise to God for the beauty and variety of His creation, for all the earth “possesses,” and all that’s in the sea. There in the deep, creatures like the Leviathan “play” and are fed by God.
Leviathan is mentioned five times in the Scriptures, and the opinions as to what it is, ranges from a crocodile to a fire-breathing dragon (Job 41:1-34). The primary point the Psalmist is making is how everything, and every living thing is in the hands of the Lord – He is an awesome God!
The Psalmist deals with God’s “relationship” with the earth and then God’s relationship with us (mankind). He ends with a prayer of personal determination, a prayer for holiness on earth, and an honest expression of praise.
Psalm 104:33–35 (NKJV) “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. 34 May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the LORD. 35 May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!”
V. 22 – The word “devise” means, “to formulate in one’s mind,” it speaks of “planning in advance.” Here we see we can devise evil…that’ll make us go astray; or we can devise good, which means we’ll experience mercy and truth.
We all know the difference between slipping into sin – and premeditated, presumptuous sin. We know there’s a clear contrast between manslaughter and murder that is carefully planned.
V. 23 – Hard work pays off, it’s profitable; the Hebrew word translated “labor” speaks of working till it hurts, till it causes pain, to toil. As a matter of fact, the Hebrew word is usually translated “sorrow” – but that’s just for the body. Regarding the person as a whole, or the soul itself, godly labor is profitable. There’s something admirable about a hard day’s work.
But idle chatter (that’s a funny word huh?), leads only to poverty.
When I young and worked at the supermarkets, the Pantry and then Vons – I saw chatterers got demoted – some got fired – and I saw the hard workers, the hustlers, get promoted.
V. 24 – There are times when God blesses a wise man with wealth. In such cases God knows he can handle it. It won’t be a distraction for him, and in this case, it’s like a crown, a reward for good stewardship.
He or she uses that crown for good. As Charles Bridges said, “Wealth is in fact a blessing when honestly acquired and conscientiously used.”
“Wealth is the crown … of the wise, but it cannot hide fools. It only makes their folly more apparent.” And we shake our heads when we see them spend, waste, and eventually lose their money.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.