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Melancholy views of Israel's transgression still appear, and are prosecuted in their contents through this Chapter. In the former we have beheld the daring sin of idolatry; here we are presented with the horrid representation of the sin of murder. The concubine of a Levite forms the chief subject of the story: her abuse: her being murdered: and the Levites conduct upon it: these form the principle events here recorded.
The same preface opens this Chapter, no king in Israel. Reader! shall not you and I say Jesus is our king, our judge, our lawgiver, he will save us. Isaiah 33:22 .
And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father's house to Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months.
I think it probable, that though she is called his concubine, it meant his lawful wife; and indeed in the margin it is said so, for how otherwise could she be said to have acted the part of an whore.
And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father's house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him.
The affection of this man to his adulteress wife, may serve to remind us of our God's tenderness to us in our fornication to him. How sweetly the Lord speaks of it himself by the prophet. They say (saith the Lord) if a man put away his wife, and she go from him and become another man's, shall he return to her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? But thou hast played the harlot with many lovers, yet return again to me, saith the Lord. Jeremiah 3:1 .
There is somewhat very interesting in family happiness. The Lord hath entwined the heart of man to man. And in the nearer connections of life, the knot is drawn yet closer. But as to all these creature enjoyments, simply as creatures, what the apostle saith should be ever kept in view, "That they that have wives be as though they had none: and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not:" for the transition from the house of joy to that of mourning, is but from one room to another. 1 Corinthians 7:29-30 .
This Gibeah was a city in the tribe of Benjamin, and it was directly on the road towards Shiloh. The resolution therefore of the Levite app ears to be very proper, for certainly there should seem to be more courtesy by right to be expected by an Israelite from a Benjamite, than from the Jebusites. But the sequel shows that this was ill-founded. Alas! how many are there professing the pure and merciful religion of the Lord Jesus, whose lives need blush in the view of men of no religion.
Probably in those days there were no public inns. But yet might not a Levite, and no doubt his dress indicated the order to which he belonged, have reasonably expected accommodation from every Israelite? The Lord had expressly pointed out that his Levites should have no inheritance with their brethren, because the Lord himself was their portion. But then this implied how much every true lover of the Lord would love a Levite! Joshua 13:33 . But is there not in all this, somewhat that pointed to the Prince of Levites? Did not this intimate that Jesus was to be the inheritance of all his tribes? Dearest Lord! let it never be said of me, or any of thine, I was a stranger and ye took me not in. Matthew 25:43 .
And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites.
The sacred historian, as if to call our attention more immediately to this person, is careful to tell us that he was only a sojourner in Gibeah. Is not this designed to remind us of Him, who when he came on earth to seek and save that which was lost was only a sojourner through our world?
While we pay the tribute of just praise, to the old man, and admire his generosity, let the Reader have the eye of his mind directed to him, of whom we read in the gospel, the good Samaritan, and in him behold the pleasing representation of that heavenly Samaritan, who when he passed by, literally found our whole nature exposed in the street, without home, and without shelter, and even worse than all this, made more than half dead by the enemy of souls! Blessed Jesus! do thou say to me, Peace be with thee, let all thy wants lie on me; and may my soul lie all night between thy breasts. Song of Solomon 1:13 .
I would be led to hope, that the mirth here spoken of was sacred mirth. There is no real joy but the joy of the Holy Ghost; and this is the kingdom of God. Romans 14:17 .
The sad narrative of so detestable an action, and issuing from so detestable a cause, is enough to put to the blush our depraved nature. Who that reads it but must exclaim, Lord! what is man! And when we read the early breakings out of this most unnatural sin, in the days of Lot; look at it again here; and connect with it what the apostle saith in his days; how ought our nature to be humbled, in beholding this, among the many sad consequences of the fall. Genesis 19:4 . But Reader! let us turn from this sad picture of our poor fallen nature, and behold the other part of the subject, though indeed, in doing it we only turn from one sad story to another, all originating from one and the same source, man's misery and ruin by reason of the fall. What a wretched conclusion did this woman terminate her life with, from running into adultery and leaving her husband. Behold the evidence of what the apostle saith, the wages of sin is death. Oh! that all such views may have this blessed influence on our hearts, to prize yet more that inestimable redemption, which is the alone security from the ruins of the fall; and lead our hearts yet nearer to Jesus, who thus tenderly speaks to his people, O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help.
Though the several contents in this chapter lead to the review only of the sin, and consequently the sorrow of our nature, yet my soul, if the contemplation of man's ruin by sin, prompts thy heart to admire and embrace yet more affectionately the glorious recovery by grace, and brings thee home to Him, who hath done away sin and all its real consequences by the sacrifice of himself, even this humiliating subject will form the foundation for greater praise. Yes! thou blessed Jesus, I see in thee, and thy great redemption work, the glorious scheme of salvation, prepared long before the fall, and in the fulness of time completed, for to repair the desolations of many generations, and to restore perfect order among all the works of God. I behold the Almighty God and Father founding this plan of unequalled mercy, in the ancient settlement of eternity, and thou generously undertaking it when neither Levite nor Priest, nor righteousness, nor offering, could stand in the least stead to bring sinners to God. And what is it now in time, but the same everlasting righteousness arising out of Jehovah's everlasting love, by which the salvation of thy church and people is secured forever. Hail! thou holy, precious, pure, and spotless Lamb of God! Oh may my soul find constant relief, and every suited encouragement, in reposing on thy righteousness, when at any time, in thyself or others around me, I feel or see the sad consequences of a sinful state. Lord! I would lay low before thee, under a deep sense of sin, and this body of death I carry about within me, while taking refuge under the incense of thy merits, and seeking redemption in thy blood. Be thou to me, O Lord, all I need; wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption: and may all my glorying be in thee, O Lord.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Judges 19". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26