Summary: When you let the natural nature of the human heart take over you don’t go from bad to good you go from bad to worse. Yet in the midst of a tragic story we find tremendous hope.
The events of Judges 19-21 probably represent the worst of the worst of the history of Israel. They happened, surprisingly, not long after Joshua passed away signaling, I think, the fact that shortly after conquering the Promised Land, the people fell away quickly into idolatry which then infected them with a disease. This disease spread into a cancer that invaded all parts of their lives, their values, and their actions - until this was the result. This story, by the way, will remind you of another ungodly city: Sodom.
We see in these chapters:
Sexual immorality in its "accepted" form (sex outside of the marriage between one man and one woman), then sexual immorality at its apex in the aggressive, violent homosexuality demonstrated in Gibeah of Benjamin.
The cruelty of a husband to his "wife" both in terms of emotional abuse that is not seen but hinted at, to physical abuse in giving her to the mob, and disregard for life when the husband just about steps over her body as he leaves his father in law’s house.
We see the fear that comes about in a world not governed by Yahweh (fear of what the Jebusites might do) and the folly of not fearing when everyone does what is right in their own eyes rather than follow God (Gibeah).
We see the kind of mixed up priorities in dealing with society. The husband disregards his concubine, but then when she is killed it causes an entire tribe to be practically destroyed and all sorts of summersaults to get around rash oaths that are taken in the heat of the moment.
They are hard chapters to read, and so I want to deal with all of them - it’s one continuous story, then make some conclusions about the flesh, which inspired the people to do the things they did, at the end.
19:1 - 4
The woman was a "second wife." Apparently not happy with this Levite (not the same man as in the previous chapters) she leaves and goes back home. The man wants her back and goes to her father’s house and "speaks kindly" to her. She should have known better. This guy is a loser as we’ll see later, he sends her out to get abused by the crowd when they travel to Gibeah, and almost doesn’t even see her as he steps out of the house to go on his way days later. Oddly, the father of the girl seems happier to see him than the woman herself.
5 - 9
The laws of hospitality play a major role in the story - as we’ll see later as well. But the girl herself is pretty much ignored here. Notice it is "the two of them" (vs 6) and "both of them" (vs 8) not "the three of them" who ate and drank. There is no direct indication that the woman even wanted to rejoin her husband.
10 - 15
It was six miles to Jerusalem from Bethlehem. They would pass just to the west of Jebus (the fortress later captured by David) and home to the Jebusites. The man feared danger staying there. If he only knew the real danger was with his own nation. Gibeah lay four miles beyond Jebus. It was logical for them to wait in the open square, but was odd that no one came to offer them lodging. Lack of hospitality was no where near the most serious problem going on in Gibeah.
16 - 21
The House of the Lord was either at Bethel or Shiloh to the north.
22 - 26
The people of Gibeah were very similar in their behavior to the residents of Sodom. This horrible scene is reminiscent of when the angels came to Lot. There are so many sins here they are hard to count. I think it is enough to say that what we see here is the result of years of continual, purposeful running away from God and headlong into sin. This is what happens when humans live without God. We don’t get better, we get worse and worse.
Romans 1:18-22 is a great example of what happens when we are on our own and what God thinks about it.
27 - 30
What a guy, huh? I’m not sure what he is really upset about - the loss of his wife or the loss of his property. Never the less, God uses it as an opportunity to get people thinking about what is really going on in their midst and gets the rest of Israel fired up to stop it!
1 - 7
Notice that the Levite identifies that it was not just the outcasts and bad guys in Gibeah but the leaders who did this. Woe to the people when the leaders are examples of ungodliness.