Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25
This is going to be a overview of chapters 17 through 21. It seems that these chapters tie together very strongly in showing what happens when God is not the One ruling individuals, and national life.
The key to understanding these chapters appears to be the phrase, “There was no king…”, and that would certainly mean that even God was not the rule of their hearts and lives. At least they were not submitted to His rule and reign. We know and believe as Christians, of course, that God is sovereign, and in complete control of every nation, ruler, and individual.
OUTLINE chapters 17 – 21 –
I. THE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP OF THE NATION WAS IN SHAMBLES (17:6-18:31).
II. LACK OF LOVE, RESPECT, AND COMMITMENT IN MARRIAGE (19:1-21).
III. SEEMING UNRESTRAINED ANIMAL LUST, AND HUMAN DEPRAVITY (19:22-28).
IV. WARS BETWEEN BRETHREN (19:29-20:48).
V. UNHOLY COMPASSIONS (21:1-24).
WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP OF THE CHURCHES, COMMUNITIES, AND NATIONS CRUMBLE (17:6-18-31). This as a matter of fact is the ultimate reason that nations crumble and fall. When the spiritual, moral leadership fails, nations are left without a foundation on which to stand.
In this text we have a young man (unnamed) from the priestly family (Levi) who goes to serve as a priest for one man [Micah] and his family. He is basically selling the office of priest. It isn’t long until some group more powerful, with more means comes and buys him away.
This was a young “priest” who was selling his services for gain, to live, and not giving spiritual guidance, or any life guidance what so ever. Right priestly, spiritual leadership will confront, rebuke, exhort (2 Timothy 3:16-17) through Scriptural counsel.
Right spiritual leadership begins with the priesthood of the home. The priest of the home is the husband of the wife, father of the children. This is one of the appointments of God for the Christian man of the house. That is not to say he is the only priest of the home, the wife, the mother, and each of the children who are Christians are also priests under Jesus Christ, and have the authority to approach the very throne of God.
God has placed the Christian man as the head of spiritual leadership of that home, and when this begins to fail the foundation begins weakening. When the husbands and fathers are not leading the homes spiritually, that will show up in the local church, the community, the State government, and the National governments.
This responsibility begins with every Christian. Make God King of your life through faith in Jesus Christ and His cross.
WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THERE WILL BE A LACK OF LOVE, RESPECT AND COMMITTMENT IN MARRIAGE (19:1-21) We have in these verses a Levite who has a “concubine” who has forsaken him and returned to her father. For all practical purposes we see her here as the only “wife” he has. He does seem to have a love for her, because he pursues her to her father’s home.
The wife had been unfaithful (v. 2), and went to her father’s home in Bethlehem-Judah, and was there for four months. He goes to her father’s house to bring her home. He meets his “father in law” (v. 7) for the first time, and they begin communicating , creating a bond with one another, and the “husband” stays the night; and it wasn’t until the late afternoon of the fifth day that the man and his ‘concubine’ departed.
She has shown a lack of commitment in her marriage, by being unfaithful. He has shown some love for her by pursuing her to her father’s home, to bring her back with him to their home. He does not however have much respect for marriage, because a concubine was only for the purpose of man’s pleasure or service, and God actually commands a man have one wife. We are not told anywhere that she was his “wife”, but only concubine.
It seems that the man made bad choices. This is certainly evidence of the time of spiritual darkness of that day and time. She is not his wife, she is his wife. She is not his wife in the traditional sense of that day; she is his wife in the sense of his responsibility for her.
Just as this issue with the Levite and the concubine is confusing so too has the marriage issue of our day become quite confusing. God ordained that a man leave his father and mother, and cleave only to his wife (Genesis 2:24). He has ordained that one man and one woman wed, and be together until they are parted by death. Because of sin God has given allowances for divorce; Jesus said, “Because of the hardness of your hearts…” (Matthew 19:8; Mark 10:5).
When God is not king in marriage, then there will be confusion about the rights and wrongs of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. There will be arguments over authority, rights, and all kinds of family issues; similar to whether a woman should have children if she is not married, and especially if an unmarried woman should be allowed to have fourteen children, through medical means.
When God is King we follow His plans for life, love and marriage and family.
WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THERE WILL BE UNRESTRAINED LUST AND HUMAN DEPRAVITY (19:22-28). This Levite showed same careless attitude of many people, including many Christians of our day;
1. Any judgment that may be coming is somewhere around the corner in another time and place;
2. Still longing for more fun, more partying and more amusement.
He took no thought for his or her own life when he decided to leave her father’s home so late, and found himself on the streets of an unholy place.
A fine, courteous man invites them to his home for safety, and shelter. The man accepts the invitation, and they are soon approached by the “sons of Belial” (v. 22), and they sound much like the people who approached Lot’s door requesting to “know” the men he had in his house (Genesis 20:4-5). Only these were not struck with blindness or later destroyed by fire and brimstone.
Lust was in the hearts of these people. They had no self restraint, no fear of God, and no care for anyone but self.
The sad part about it is that the Levite and his host seem to have no love for anything but self either. The “good guys” are not so great after all, are they? Now, I know all the arguments about this; and I clearly see it, but no man who is right with God in any time or culture would sell their wife, daughter; nor any other man’s wife or daughter for their life. We will not cast them out to the savages for our own benefit, and to leave them lying dead on the “thresholds” after having wanted back in.
When God is King there is love in the marriage, the home, and respect for one another; and a heart for what is right, wrong, and responsibilities for guidance and protection of that home.
WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THERE WILL BE WARS AND UNREST BETWEEN BRETHREN (19:29-20:48). Though rightly angry over the death of this woman; I cannot help but believe that part of his actions in cutting up her body is from guilt. Why didn’t I stand my ground? Why didn’t I stand to protect her and the man’s daughter (19:24)? So now he wants to get all the people of Israel involved in his sin. The rush to judgment, though they had consulted God in the matter, led to the eventual destruction of the tribe of Benjamin. Though God had given approval for the first two attacks He had not promised them victory until the third attack.
The nation needed to learn from this event. Their sins, their lack of trust in God, and dependence upon Him was their major offense. Now they have come to God these three times, it would seem, as only a crutch, or a spare tire.
How should it have been handled? Should they have been obeying God’s commandments, God’s laws? YES! Should they have had only one wife? YES! Sometimes even at all times when we just insist on having our own way God allows us to do it. Then we suffer the thorns and thistles of the life we chose. That young lady who was counselled by her pastor she shouldn’t marry that non-christian boy, but went ahead with it and, is now troubled by a drunken husband who beats her, cheats on her, and abuses the kids and won’t bring home the check for groceries and rent, but gambles, and drinks it away; she now wants to blame God for her choice. You were warned young lady. God gave you the word and you didn’t hear it, you rejected it for your self desire, and will; now you are paying.
When God is King there is obedience to His commandments, and prayer and right choices lead to a life of blessing. Do we who are Christians ever make wrong choices? Most definitely. We pay for our wrong choices. When God is King it will not lead to unrest between brethren. He is not a crutch or a spare tire; to be only called upon when in dire straits.
When God is King His Word will be believed and practiced and feared. When God is King there will be no conflict over whether the Word of God is inerrant, infallible, and eternal
WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THERE WILL BE UNHOLY COMPASSIONS (21:1-24). The tribe of Israel had basically been destroyed. Now they suddenly grow concerned about that one tribe, and begin doing all kinds of compromising things to justify their actions. A plan, a scheme of kidnapping women, and joining of the kidnapped with the living Benjamites, and the kidnapped women being from a city of Judea which has been destroyed due to their lack of participation in the war. When God is not King man schemes, plots, and eventually loses out on the blessings of God.
Compassion is a good, and sometimes even godly thing. Any compassion that is based on godlessness is not godly. It may have been right to preserve the tribe of Benjamin, but the plots and scheming was not right. It would not have need to be done should things been done according to God’s Word, guidance and direction.
When God is King there will be holy compassion and holy unions, all without schemes, and plots around the desires of God.
-Tim A. Blankenship