Bible Readings for August 7th
In Judges 21, we learn that the eleven tribes of Israel had sworn an oath among themselves, saying, “Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin” (Judg. 21:18). Quickly, however, Israel recognizes that their rash vow created a terrible problem—without wives, an entire tribe would be blotted out from among Israel. In the last chapter of Judges, we see Israel leveraging their own wisdom to create their own solutions once again—with the result that they are merely compounding their problems rather than solving them (once again).
The book of Judges records a pattern of rash vows. We saw Jephthah make a rash vow in Judges 11, promising to sacrifice whatever first greeted him out of his home if God would give him victory in battle, a vow that forced him to sacrifice his only daughter. And here in Judges 21, we see Israel make not one but two foolish vows. Israel also vows to put to death whoever does not come up with them against Benjamin (Judg. 21:5). When they discover that the people of Jabesh-gilead have not come, Israel settles upon a solution that would fulfill both vows: they resolve to murder all the men and married women in Jabesh-gilead and then to give the 400 remaining virgins to the tribe of Benjamin as wives (Judg. 21:12). Then, they additionally decide to kidnap the Israelite virgins who danced at a feast for Yahweh in Shiloh to procure the remaining needed wives (Judg. 21:19–24). When this deed is done, every Israelite returns to his home, satisfied with the work that had been done (Judg. 21:24).
But the book of Judges puts in one final word to guide our interpretation of these events in Judges 21:25: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” At every turn through the book of Judges, the people of Israel had forsaken Yahweh to do whatever was right in their own eyes, which is exactly what they do in the case of this “solution” here in Judges 21. Sin begets sin, and the deeper Israel sunk into their idolatries, the more sin they had to resort to in their attempts to solve their problems.
Hear the word of Yahweh: sin will destroy you. Sin will lead you bit by bit, step by step, into the snare of death. It is for this reason that Yahweh sent his Son into the world: to save sinners. Where we had chosen sin that leads to death, Jesus chose to submit to death to cancel the power of sin. Repent from doing what is right in your own eyes and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that you may be saved.
“Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Deut. 30:19).
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.