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Bible Commentaries
Judges 20

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-48

Chapter 20

Now it had what he hoped it would have. It had a shock effect upon the tribes. They were horrified to get part of a torso, a leg, an arm, a head and they gathered together and this man told them the evil that was done by the Benjamites, by those from the tribe of Benjamin, the city of Gibeah. He told them the horrible evil that had befallen him while he was there. And the people of Israel were incensed against the Ephraimites, I mean against the Benjamites. And so they decided to go against them in battle and they gathered an army of four hundred thousand plus.

And they inquired of the Lord, and they said, Who shall go up first? And the LORD said, The tribe of Judah ( Judges 20:18 ).

So the tribe of Judah went up against Gibeah but the men of Benjamin were tough. They had seven hundred fellows who could throw a stone with a sling and never miss from a hundred yards. They could come within a hair's breadth of their target and a hundred yards with a sling, seven hundred of them, skillful, tough.

The tribe of Judah went up against Gibeah. The men of the Benjamites came out. Of course, the Benjamites, when they said they gave the personal agendum they said, "Turn over these lewd fellows who have done this thing. We're gonna kill them."

And the Benjamites would not turn them over. They said, "You come and get them." And so they were more or less challenged for the fight. And so the men of Judah, Israel, were defeated by the men of Benjamin who killed twenty-two thousand that day in the battle. So the men of Israel came and they encouraged themselves. They set in battle again as they did the first day.

(And the children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and they asked counsel of the LORD, saying, Shall we go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the LORD said, Go up against him.) Now the children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day. And the men of Benjamin came forth against them out of Gibeah the second day, destroyed down to the ground eighteen thousand men; and again they retreated ( Judges 20:23-25 ).

And now they fasted and prayed and cried unto the Lord. Now, I must confess at this point I have confusion. Why would God send them into a battle, say, "Go into battle" in which they are gonna get defeated? I don't know and that confuses me. But the first two days they went in, they got whipped and though God had said go, even said the tribe that was to go first, I don't understand that. You say, "Oh well, that's horrible you don't understand." Well, perhaps so. But I don't know everything and God said, "My ways are not your ways, saith the Lord. My ways are beyond your finding out."

Even as a woman this morning asked me after the service, she said, "Why would God choose Samson if in His foreknowledge He knew he was gonna fail?" That's a good question. I don't know. However, as I say, there are a lot of things I don't know about God and I'm sort of glad I don't know because that causes me to respect God. I know He's smarter than I am. Now if I knew everything God knew I'd be as smart as God and how could I respect him? Not only that, it gives me a chance to exercise faith, which I don't like, but I'm forced at times to exercise it. You see, to believe what I don't know is faith. To believe what I do know is reason, intellect.

Now I know a lot of things and I believe them because my intellect tells me, "Well, that's right." I can balance in my intellect. I can rationalize it." So I say, "Well, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God," great deal. There's plenty of historic proof for that. "I believe Jesus rose from the dead," big deal, there's plenty of historic truth for that and proof. If you can prove anything in history you can prove that Jesus rose from the dead, if history has any value for proof of past events. If you want to prove that Hannibal crossed the Alps, you can prove that Jesus rose from the dead just as much as you can prove that he crossed the Alps or that Washington crossed the Delaware. So big deal, I believe Jesus rose from the dead. I can prove it historically. It is the things that I can't prove that I have to just believe by faith that God honors. I say that I believe Jesus is the Son of God, great. The devils believe that too. What does that make me? Nothing.

But when you come to those areas of faith or belief where there is not the proof and I have to just believe in faith that this indeed did happen. That he died, yes, that's a historical fact but that He died for my sins, that's something I accept by faith. That God laid upon Him my sins when He died, I accept that by faith. That He rose, that's a historic fact, but in His resurrection He provided justification for me, that's faith. That's what makes me saved, is believing what I don't understand. I don't understand how or why He would die for me. I don't understand how I can be justified by His resurrection but I believe it because the Bible declares it.

And thus, there are many things in my Christian experience that I believe though I can't rationalize them. And the things especially when a person says to me, "Why did God?" Someone the other day started out their question says, "Why did God" I said "That's all the further you need to go. I don't know." I don't know the whys of God. "My ways are not your ways saith the Lord, my ways are beyond your finding out."( Isaiah 55:8 ) And thus, when I cannot reason or intellectualize some of the things I then, by faith, if God said it I believe it, by faith, not by reason. I take a step higher than reason and I step into that realm of faith believing it because God said it and God, who cannot lie, has declared His truth and I believe it though I can't rationalize it or understand it in my mind.

So why did God say, "Yep, go" and then allow them to get defeated? I don't know but it's there, I believe it.

The third day, they fasted, they prayed, they waited upon God, "Shall we go again?"

"Yes, go again."

Now this time they changed their strategy a bit. They had some guys sort of hide around the city and when the men of Benjamin then came out they retreated, drew them on out further from the city. Then these men came in the city, set a big fire and the men of Benjamin turned around, saw there city was on fire and, you know, the fight was gone out of them and they killed twenty thousand of them in the field. Some of them tried to flee, they grabbed them, killed three thousand in another place, killed a couple thousand in another and pretty much wiped out the men from the tribe of Benjamin. In fact, there were six hundred men who escaped the slaughter but the rest of them were wiped out. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Judges 20". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/judges-20.html. 2014.
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