The worst we can do

Today’s Reading: Judges 19:1-20:48, John 3:22-4:3, Psalm 104:24-35, Proverbs 14:22-23

This part of Judges is my least favorite section of the Bible. It is an example of the worst of human behavior in many ways: gang rape, murder, bullying, theft, and genocide. The story begins with a Levite finding a concubine, losing her and returning to her father’s house to reclaim her. This does not seem right with me from the very start. The Levites were the spiritual leaders and servants in ancient Israel. They assisted the priests and cared for the tabernacle and all of its contents. Why was he seeking a concubine (sort of a mistress) and not a full wife?

There is a certain sense of justice as the Levite seeks retribution against the men of Gibeah for the gang rape and murder of his concubine, but the way he did it was designed to incite a riot and it worked. A massive army (400,000) attacked a city with only 26,000 soldiers. In the end all but 600 of the men of the tribe of Benjamin survived and the massive army lost 40,000 men. In the end the massive army also destroyed every living thing in Gibeah and the surrounding towns and burned them to the ground. The retaliation was overwhelming and is deeply distubing to me. This seems like human behavior at its worst.

It was a relief to read the words of Psalm 104 after reading about the Levite and his concubine. I share in the Psalmist’s desire to praise the Lord with his whole being for his entire life.

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.
    I will praise my God to my last breath!
34 May all my thoughts be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let all sinners vanish from the face of the earth;
    let the wicked disappear forever.

    Let all that I am praise the Lord.

    Praise the Lord

 

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