I have to say I was glad to see that the unified Israelites tried to give their relatives of Benjamin the opportunity to do the right thing. It would have been so much easier if they had simply given up those men in Gibeah. For some reason, they were protecting their own and decided that warfare was the better option.
Being the non-confrontational person I am, these kinds of stories don’t appeal to me. I would much rather settle differences by talking to find a reasonable compromise. There must be a lesson to learn from these days of fighting. Let’s dig in and figure it out!
There are a lot of details here about the number of warriors from each side. Upon close inspection, we see the numbers don’t always match up. I’ve got no explanation, nor am I going to ponder it. I merely wanted to point it out in case you had noticed, too. Suffice it to say the numbers are skewed in favor of the Israelites. They should be able to easily wipe out the Benjamin tribe with their great numbers.
But they don’t, on the first and second try at least. The smaller army saw two great victories. The Israelites had to be wondering what was wrong. They had gone to the Lord and asked, “Which tribe should go first to attack the people of Benjamin?” The answer was Judah. If God wasn’t going to give them victory, why did he answer them at all?
I can only suppose that the question was not asked properly. Perhaps God could clearly see that their hearts were set more on revenge rather than on repentance to God. God’s power and might was available to them, but they had not approached God appropriately. What do you think is the reason for their failure?
Despite their failure, “the Israelites encouraged each other and took their positions again at the same place they had fought the previous day.” They were not going to give up. I’m guessing the Israelites were still relying on their own power, even though they had gone to Bethel to ask God if they should continue fighting. The response was in the affirmative.
It wasn’t until after the second day of fighting, losing more Israelite lives, that the people approached God with more repentant behaviors. Is that what God had been waiting for? It’s one thing to come to God and ask for stuff, it’s another to show your own weakness and acknowledge God’s power.
How do you approach God with your requests? I’ve often felt like I have a laundry list of asks. As we see in our story, God will respond to our “asks,” but his answer may not always be what we want to hear. Perhaps the lesson here is to approach God with more reverence and respect, showing our reliance on him and his mercy.
Think about when people ask you for things. Aren’t you much more apt to respond favorably when they ask “nicely?” Even better when they offer you something for your help! We can come to God and offer him our humble praise, seeking his will and direction for our lives. We can tell him what we’d like, but he already knows that. We need to be ready, with humility, to ask him for what he wants for us. After all, his plans for us are so much better than we could possibly imagine.
Let’s pray …
Lord, sometimes I wonder what you’re waiting for in answering my prayers. Thank you for the reminder to be more mindful of how I ask as well as what I ask for. Forgive me when I seem more focused on my own power and not reliant on yours. Fill me up today and lead me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.