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A TRAGIC CHAPTER IN ISRAEL’S HISTORY
This chapter contains the history of an unmitigated abomination. Perhaps the best comment upon it is to pass it by. But nothing in human life does God pass by. It seems to be needed, that there should be a few specimens recorded of the darkest phases of human depravity, if for no other reason, than to show to what depths in the mire of sin even professed worshippers of the true God may sink, when given up to the lusts of their own hearts. It shows also how far the hand of redeeming grace has to stretch, ere great sinners can be received back into the Divine favour. It is not necessary to do more here, than to take a glance down the page.
What we have got here is a specimen of the low morality, which existed in the only church of God on earth in that age. Not that every place was so bad as Gibeah, but that such a scandal was possible in even one place, so soon after the days of Joshua, for Phinehas, who was for some time contemporary with Joshua, was still acting as priest before the ark (Judges 20:28). The case of a Levite is selected, one of the sacred tribe, and therefore presumed to be an exemplary keeper of the law. We hear first of—
1. His unlawful wedlock. “He took to him a concubine.” This tie, whatever it was, still permitted of her partner being called her “husband” (Judges 19:3). But it was essentially a doubtful morality, of the kind described in Matthew 19:8. Such a connection was no longer tolerated, when the Saviour appeared and brought out the spirit of the law (Matthew 19:4-40.19.6).
2. The unfaithful conduct of the woman. Judges 19:2. A heinous sin against God, and against her husband.
3. Little is made of so great a crime. Judges 19:3. The husband, though a Levite, appears to have said nothing by way of condemning such conduct. Had the sin been fully and faithfully dealt with, and suitable penitence been exercised, there might then have been reconciliation with God through the blood of atonement. Till that was done, the way was not clear for a proper arrangement between husband and wife.
4. To cover up sin will not bring prosperity (Judges 19:3-7.19.4). “So they wrap it up” (Proverbs 28:13). The God with whom we have to deal is a holy God, and “evil-doers shall not stand in His sight.”
5. The greatest sinner is invited to return in any age. However great God’s abhorrence of sin, it is the uniform testimony of His word that “all manner of sin shall be forgiven unto men” on due repentance, and the exercise of trust in the Lord Jesus as our Saviour.
6. The great harm that may arise from indolence and indecision. Judges 19:5-7.19.8.
The fearful tragedy that happened might have been prevented had the parties in the case shaken off their sloth, and gone their way at an early hour. Love of ease is natural, but must be given up at the call of duty. Delays are dangerous.
7. The people of God in this world live in the midst of enemies. Judges 19:10-7.19.13. “Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech.”
8. Human sympathy is dried up in the breasts of those who cast off God (Judges 19:15).
How different the case of Job (Job 31:32). But where God is cast out, there is no room for man. Where there is no fear of God, selfishness and inhumanity reign supreme.
9. The value of one friend where all are cold (Judges 19:15; Judges 19:20).
Examples: The thief on the cross (Luke 23:41); Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:15-55.1.17); Timothy (Philippians 2:19-50.2.21); Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25; Philippians 2:27).
10. A Canaanite vice found in an Israelitish city (1 Corinthians 15:33, with Leviticus 18:22-3.18.25; Leviticus 18:27-3.18.28). The sins of Sodom were found in Benjamin, showing how ripe they were for ruin.
11. Radical error of religious belief is contemporaneous with grievous lapse into sin. When the Lord of the conscience is denied, the chief restraint on the depravity of the heart is removed, and like the waters of the lake when the barriers are burst it rushes out till it finds its lowest depth.
12. The doom of the impenitent offender (Judges 19:25-7.19.27).
13. The publication of the horrid crime (Judges 19:29).
14. The sensation of horror caused throughout Israel (Judges 19:30).
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Judges 19". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany