This is a dark story.
It’s not for little kids, and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.
There’s an ugliness that can’t be ignored and an evil that compels pure disgust and dread.
I am not a feminist. But I am a strong woman. I feel strongly, and I’m not afraid to share my opinion. And I had a very strong opinion about one particular story in the Bible. It’s trash. I hated it. Absolutely, positively hated it.
I did not understand why it was even in the Bible, because as far as I was concerned, it should never have been written in the first place. This story definitely had no place in the Word of God.
So I did the only thing I could. I decided to study it and challenge God on His inclusion of this horrible story.
And I was amazed at what I found.
What story is it?
The Levite and his concubine and the story begins in Judges 19.
Just in case you’re not familiar with this particular story, I’ll give you a quick recap. The Levite takes a women as his concubine (not wife), and for whatever reason, she defies all social conventions to leave him and go home to daddy. Hmmmmmm, suspicious. Finally the Levite goes to reclaim her (again suspicious why he waited) and after several days of feasting with her dad, he leaves taking her back with him. Numerous errors in judgment show up on his part but the final few take the cake. They stop in a certain town filled with Benjamites and stay at the home of an elderly man. During the night the men of the city gather around the house and demand the Levite come out so they can have “pleasure” with him. Both the Levite and the host act in a completely despicable way, and finally the poor concubine is shoved out the door and left to a horrible fate. The end of which finds her dead. And her “master” (definitely not husband) finds her body the next morning on the doorstep. He then hacks it into pieces and calls all Israel to avenge her death and a civil war ensues…
I told you it was despicable.
I hated the way the men in the story acted. I hated the way the poor woman was treated. I hated that the Levite got off completely free. Where’s the justice? Where’s the righteous people standing up for truth and defending those who could not defend themselves?
Where was God while all this was going on?
But here’s what happened when I actually began to study the story – I realized you’re not supposed to like the story. To put it simply, this is a horrible story that is supposed to make you heartbroken and upset.
The book of Judges has an interesting place in the Bible. It follows in the footsteps of those that came before. Before Judges you have Genesis where God chooses a family to begin reclaiming His lost world. God enters into covenant with that family promising to use them no matter what. Along with using them, God is going to give this family a certain land in a certain portion of the world. The current inhabitants of this land are sinful, wicked people and the land is so filled with their blood and violence it is getting ready to spit them out.
In Exodus you see God going to war for this family, redeeming them from Egypt, and entering into another amazing covenant with this family which by now has become the nation of Israel. God will bless them and be their God but obedience becomes a requirement to receive certain blessings.
Numbers finds them in the wilderness learning a few lessons. Deuteronomy is Moses’ final words, challenges, and concerns for the future of this nation. Joshua sees the nation finally entering the land God promised to them so long ago. The covenant is being fulfilled! God is doing exactly what He promised!
What about Israel?
How is she doing on her end of the covenant? Is she keeping her promises to love and obey her God? To trust Him and cling to Him alone?
Well, not exactly.
You see hints of this in the stories leading up to Judges, the Golden Calf for instance. But in the book of Judges everything falls apart.
When you read the book of Judges you have to think of a drain. The water starts out at the top but it starts to spin and spiral and ends up going down down down… The first Judge in the book is the cream of the crop. Othniel, the younger brother of the famous Caleb. He is exactly what every Judge was supposed to be. His is the ideal story. Short, sweet, and God gets all the glory.
But things go down from there.
As each Judge parades his story through the pages of the book, each Judge takes the book down one more level. Like water circling a drain, Israel gets closer and closer to the bottom as Judge after Judge comes to her defense. And Judge after Judge gets looser and looser in their obedience to God, understanding of His ways, and faithfulness to the Covenant. Until at last you get to Samson.
Not a guy to emulate at all. He breaks every rule he can, and does more good in his death then his entire life. Not what you want said about your life, trust me.
You would think with the foolish Judge Samson things are as low as they can get. I mean, he sleeps around, drinks around, ignores His Nazarite calling in almost every possible way. His own countrymen try to get rid of him. Things can’t get any worse can they?
Oh yes, they can. As we shall see next week…