SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- The Israelites gather to grieve for their own people, the tribe of Benjamin.
- The results of their victory over the tribe of Benjamin combined with their rash vow to not permit the marriage of any of their daughters to a Benjamite meant that Benjamin may not survive as a tribe in Israel.
- Needing to find wives for the 600 Benjamites that remained, they attacked Jabesh Gilead. The reason they chose Jabesh Gilead is that they had not helped in the recent battles. 400 virgins were spared and given to the surviving Benjamites, leaving 200 without wives.
- Apparently feeling like 400 wives was not sufficient to guarantee the survival of the tribe of Benjamin, the remaining 200 Benjamites were encouraged to take wives during the festival of Shiloh. This was a way around the Israelites oath since they were not "giving" these girls in marriage.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit" (verse 25). During the time of the judges, the people of Israel experienced trouble because everyone became his own authority and acted on his own opinions of right and wrong. The tribes became more interested in material wealth and political compatibility (with the people who already lived in the land God was giving them) than with obedience to the law. Through intermarriage and worshipping other gods, the strength of Israel began to decline. When people selfishly satisfy their personal desires at all costs, everyone pays a price.
- The book of Judges serves as both a challenge and a warning. It is a challenge because it illustrates the fact that God can and will work on behalf of men and women when they turn to Him. It is a warning in that God will not tolerate sin.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Where in your life are you selfishly and sinfully satisfying your own personal desires instead of surrendering those desires in obedience to God? Take time to submit all your plans, desires, and motives to God.
- Memorize the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."