Just when things look as bad as they can get, man proves that he can still make things worse!
The final chapter of Judges illustrates how man tries to solve his own problems that he has brought upon himself, without any direction from God (21:25). The Three Stooges couldnâ€™t have made a bigger mess of things!
The slaughter of the Benjamites in Judges 20 caused Israel to be faced with a new problem. With only 600 men left of the tribe of Benjamin (20:47) Israel faced the possibility of one tribe becoming extinct in Israel. Everyone knew these 600 men of Benjamin weren’t going to produce very many children by themselves.
Now they are weeping and asking God why this is happening to them (v. 3). Their question implies that God was to blame for the mess they were in (cf. v. 15).
What happened to them was because they are did that which is right in their own eyes and failed to look to the Lord. They are in this mess because of sinful decisions. The punishment of making poor choices is you have to live with them.
They have forsaken God for idols. Once a society goes into apostasy, sexual perversion is the next step (see Rom. 1:21-32).
“Weâ€™re in a mess. What are we going to do?” They proceed to try to undo the problem by proposing a solution without waiting on God to give them direction. They are making decisions of what to do according to their own wisdom. This kind of decision making usually makes matters worse than they already are.
- BAD DECISION #1â€” The IRRITATED Decision (v. 1) â€”Decision to not allow any of their daughters to marry any in the tribe of Benjamin. It is never wise to make decisions when irritable or your temper is hot.
- BAD DECISION #2â€” The IMPULSIVE decision (vs. 5-10) â€” Decision to kill anyone who came not to fight at Mizpeh. One hasty decision will usually lead to another bad decision.
- “Two wrongs never make a right!â€
The reason the men from Jabesh-gilead did not come was they were closely related to Benjamin. Jabesh-gilead belonged to the tribe of Manasseh and Manasseh was the grandson of Rachel. Rachel was the mother of Benjamin. Benjamin is Rachelâ€™s son; Manasseh is Rachelâ€™s grandson.
- The close family ties of Jabesh-gilead to Benjamin are illustrated in 1 Samuel 11:1-11 cf. 31:8-13.
- BAD DECISION #3â€” The INSUFFICIENT decision (vs. 11-14)â€” Decision to give the virgin daughters of Jabesh-gilead (400 of them) to the surviving 600 men of Benjamin. They were still short 200 virgins. Man-made solutions will always fall short of completely solving the problem.
- BAD DECISION #4â€” The INTRUSIVE decision (vs. 15-24) â€” Make somebody else pay for our mistakes. Decision to allow the remaining 200 men of Benjamin without wives to raid the annual celebrations at Shiloh (the place of the house of God) and kidnap young women who attended to be their wives.
The problem is SELF-WILL (21:25). This whole ordeal was the result of one backsliden Levite who wouldnâ€™t defend his wife from a bunch of sex perverts (Judges 19)!
Summing it upâ€” The book of Judges is about people who want to maintain their identity as God’s people, but who want the freedom to manage their own lives.
They wanted solutions to their problems without submitting to God’s authority.
Everything these people did – every act of immorality – every murder of their own brothers – every act of theft and rape and pillage – everything they did seemed right in their own eyes!
Nothing they did seemed wrong! Nothing bothered them until they had to suffer the consequences of their stupid oaths and self-willed decisions.
The last verse (21:25) says they justified everything they did, because there was no king (or authority) in Israel. Of course, there was a King. God was their King, but they didn’t submit to their true King. They lived as though their King wasn’t there. They ignored their King.
The great lesson of the book of Judges is this – everything hinges on Who is King in your life.