Searchlights from the Word by G. Campbell Morgan: Judges

Helpful outline sermon suggestion from every chapter from the Book of Judges

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The Book of Judges - "Searchlights from the Word" by G. Campbell Morgan.

Chapter 1

After the death of Joshua.
Judges 1:1

The Book of Joshua began with the words: "After the death of Moses," and recorded the story of the people of God under the leadership of his successor. Now the story is continued as to what followed his death. These beginnings keep us reminded of the persistence of the Divine purpose, in spite of the frailty of the human instruments. After the death of any servant of God, the service of God goes forward, and the work of God is carried on. Yet the other side of that truth is not to be lost sight of. God carries on His purpose and His work through human instruments. Moses made possible the work of Joshua. Joshua had made possible the work of all who were to follow. The period covered in this Book is that from the death of Joshua to the judgeship of Samuel, and the movement toward monarchy. On the human side, it is a story of disobedience and disaster; and on the Divine side, of continued direction and deliverance. Therefore in its light the servant of God may always find encouragement. When the appointed task is done, he will ever be conscious of the incompleteness of it, of the things desired but not done, of the perils threatening the ultimate realization which he must leave unattained; but he will know by all this history that God never abandons His purpose, cannot be finally defeated, will always find those to take up and continue the service which is unfinished. Happy is the man who in his little hour works with God. He may be at rest about the issues.

Chapter 2

The Lord raised up judges.
Judges 2:16

This brief sentence records the method of God during this period. It was a method made necessary by the repeated failure of the people. That should be clearly understood. These men were not judges in our sense of the word. Neither were they appointed to rule in the normal way. The nation was a Theocracy, having God as King. Its life was conditioned by His law, and His will was made known through His worship, and the teaching of the priests. The first sentences of the previous chapter reveal the nation inquiring of Jehovah on a matter of national importance. The answer was direct. It was sought and obtained by the use of Urim and Thummim by the priest (Exod. 28:30). The people had no need of any other administrators in times of obedience. When through disobedience they passed into circumstances of difficulty and suffering, God raised up judges who became the instruments of Divine deliverance. The Hebrew word Shophelim is derived from a word meaning to put right, and so to rule, and this is exactly what these men did. In the earlier cases, when they had accomplished deliverance they retired again into private life. Gradually they came to retain office. Samuel judged Israel forty years. The need for them arose out of human failure: the provision was of Divine Grace. This principle runs through all the history of man. Man persistently fails, but God persistently overcomes man's failure in order to man's well-being. Priests, judges, kings, prophets, are all means by which God stoops to man's level in order to recover him.

Chapter 3

The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel.
Judges 3:10

Othniel was the first of the judges. The circumstances which made his appointment necessary were those of the oppression of the people of God by the king of Mesopotamia. For eight years they had been subject to him. That subjection was due to their sin. They "forgat Jehovah their God, and served the Baalim and the Asheroth." The method of the statement suggests a gradual deterioration, ending in complete degeneracy. The stern discipline of the eight years brought them back to remembrance of God, and they cried unto Him. Then He raised up Othniel, who was to them a saviour, judging them, and leading them to victory over their enemies. The words we have emphasized are those which reveal his equipment for this work. Here the phrase, "The Spirit of Jehovah," occurs for the first time in the Bible story. We have read before of "the Spirit of God"; we have heard Moses say: "Would … that Jehovah would put His Spirit upon them." But now it is said that "The Spirit of Jehovah came upon" this man. There is no doubt that the reference is to the Holy Spirit; but the suggestion is not so much that of the might of God, as in the phrase "the Spirit of God" or Elohim, as of the grace and condescension of God. It was "the Spirit of Jehovah," that is, of the One Who was ever pledged to the need of His people, and Who became to them exactly what they needed in order to rescue them. This Spirit came upon a man, whose relationship to Caleb at least suggests that he was a man loyal to God amidst the prevalent declension of the people. By that enduement of love and power, he was perfectly equipped for his work.

Chapter 4

Now Deborah, a prophetess ... she judged Israel at that time.
Judges 4:4

In the light of subsequent Jewish prejudice against women as leaders, the story of Deborah is full of interest, as it reveals the fact that there never was any such prejudice in the mind of God. Whereas motherhood in all the sanctity and beauty of that great word, is the special function and glory of womanhood, yet when a woman is specially gifted for the exercise of prophetic and administrative work, she is not barred by any Divine law from such work. Deborah was a prophetess in the full sense of that word; that is, she was the inspired mouthpiece of the Word of God to her people. She also judged Israel, and whatever that meant in the case of the men who exercised that office, it also meant in her case. She was a saviour, a deliverer; she administered the affairs of the people, and led then} out of the circumstances of difficulty into which their sin had brought them. One can imagine how this daughter of her people, true child of faith, had suffered under the consciousness of the degradation of the people. There is a touch of poetry and romance in the story which is full of fascination. Ever and anon in the long history of God's patient dealing with men, we find Him raising up some woman to lead, to guide, to inspire; and always there is this same element of enthusiasm and force. The one great message of the story seems to be that it warns us to take heed that we do not imagine ourselves to be wiser than God. When He calls and equips a woman to high service, let us beware lest we dishonour Him by refusing to recognize her, or co-operate with her.

Chapter 5

Curse ye Meroz ... Because they came not to the help of the Lord.
Judges 5:23

The words are taken from the great song of Deborah in celebration of victory. It is full of fire and passion throughout, and is a remarkable revelation of the character of the woman. Its first part is a chant of confidence, telling the secret of the victories won. Everything is attributed to the direct government and activity of God. The second part celebrates the victory. Those who, hearing the call for help, responded, are spoken of with approval. Those who remained behind, taking no part in the conflict, are the objects of her fierce scorn. These particular words constituted her curse on neutrality. Meroz had not joined the enemies of the nation in open hostility. It had held aloof. Its sin was that it had not helped. There are hours and situations when neutrality becomes criminal. It is always so when the principles of righteousness, justice, and compassion are involved. In such hours, to stand aloof is to range oneself on the side of evil things. In the case of the enterprise of God in human history, as that enterprise is centred in Christ, it is always so. To this Christ bore unequivocal witness when He said: "He that is not with Me is against Me; he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth abroad." This is a clarion note which needs to be sounded abroad. There are multitudes of people who are in the condition of Meroz. They would protest that they do not desire to hinder; but they do nothing to help. So superlative is the claim of Christ, and so fundamental to all human well-being His work that neutrality is impossible. The curse of Deborah rests upon all such attitudes.

Chapter 6

The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
Judges 6:12

The story of Gideon is one of the most fascinating in this Book. Forty years rest followed the work of Deborah. Then the people fell again into evil ways, and for seven years suffered the most cruel oppression at the hands of Midian. They were driven to hide in dens and caves and strongholds. From that terrible situation Gideon was raised up to deliver them. These words were addressed to him by the Angel of Jehovah. They reveal the secrets of the strength which gave him the victory presently over Midian; and those secrets were two. First, there was the one supreme fact that Jehovah was with him; but there was also what he was in himself - "a mighty man of valour." Wherein did that valour consist? Apparently he was a simple man living a very ordinary life. The Angel found him about his daily duty, "beating out wheat in the wine-press." He had given no sign of military disposition or ability. We shall discover the answer to the inquiry as we listen to what he said to the Angel. To the heavenly visitor he confessed his double consciousness. This may be stated in two sentences which he uttered: "Did not Jehovah bring us up?" "Jehovah hath cast us off." He was thus revealed as a man conscious of the true relation of the people to Jehovah; and of the fact that their sufferings were the result of the Divine judgment. It is ever the man who has this double vision of Divine intention and human failure, who is the man of might and valour. With that man the Lord can work.

Chapter 7

By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you.
Judges 7:7

This is a wonderful illustration of the kind of men that God needs in order to carry out His enterprises in the world. This company of three hundred was an elect remnant, carefully separated from an army of thirty-two thousand. It becomes valuable when we observe the principles of selection. Two were applied. The first was stated in the words: "Whosoever is fearful, and trembling, let him return." On this test, twenty-two thousand retired. Those who were left were devoid of fear. The second was stated in the words: "Every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink." All such were to be sent home. The test was peculiarly military. Men in such a position were not on guard against sudden surprise. Those who took unnecessary time over necessary things were sent back. On this test nine thousand seven hundred were retired. Those who were left were full of caution. It is an old story, and full of Eastern colour, but the central values abide. God needs, to do His work, those who know no fear; and those whose devotion forbids them taking any risks. Courage and caution are the essentials of victorious campaigning. If all those today who are fearful about the issue of God's work would retire from the ranks, the armies of the Lord would be much stronger. If those who lack the uttermost devotion, which watches as well as prays, would stand aside, the sacramental hosts would do better work. The work of God needs quality more than quantity. This is the death-warrant of statistics.

Chapter 8

I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.
Judges 8:23

Here was clearly manifested the decline of the people from the high ideal and central glory of their national life. They were a Theocracy, needing (and so far having) no king other than Jehovah. Their creation as a nation by God was in order that this true conception of life should have its manifestation among other nations. Their peculiarity was their distinctive feature, and their secret of power among the nations surrounding them. All the recurring discipline through which they passed resulted from their rebellion against the rule of God, and constituted His method of restoring them to that rule. They found relief in the judges who were raised up of God, and began to hanker after some ruler, visible, and of their own number. They thought that, by securing this, they would preserve themselves from the recurrence of these troubles. So they proposed establishing an hereditary ruler-ship, that is, kingship, and they asked Gideon to accept the position. He declined in these words, and by. so doing revealed his clear understanding of the truth about the nation. That is the true attitude of all those whom God raised up to lead and deliver His people. Their leadership must ever stop short of sovereignty. Their business is never that of superseding the Divine rule; but of interpreting it, and of leading the people to recognition of it, and submission to it. This is true, not only of kings, but also of priests, prophets, and preachers.

Chapter 9

Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.
Judges 9:7

Thus did Jotham introduce his parable. He saw that the action which the men of Shechem were contemplating was one which could only result in their cutting off from the right of approach to God. God can only hearken to men when they walk in the way of His commandments. If they rebel against His rule, and break His laws, He cannot receive them, or attend to their prayers. Gideon had refused to be made king; but when he passed on, Abimelech, his natural son - a man un-principled and brutal, but of great personal force - secured to himself the allegiance of the men of Shechem, and practically usurped the position of king. In order to make his position secure, he encompassed the massacre of all the sons of Gideon, except Jotham. He, escaping, uttered a parabolic prophecy from the height of Mount Gerizim. It was full of a fine scorn for Abimelech, whom he compared to the bramble accepting a position declined by the olive, the fig-tree, and the vine. It is noticeable that these were the three symbols of the national life of Israel. In the course of his parable, he indicated the line along which judgment would fall upon them, if they committed this wrong. Abimelech would be the destruction of the men of Shechem, and the men of Shechem would be the destruction of Abimelech. That prophecy was literally fulfilled. The nation was chosen to reign over nations, under the rule of God. It lost its power to reign, when it ceased to yield its allegiance to its one and only King. Had it then hearkened to Jotham, it would have been possible for God to hearken to it.

Chapter 10

His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.
Judges 10:16

These are wonderful words about God, especially when considered in the light of the circumstances concerning which they were written. The people of God seem for a period to have given themselves up with an appalling abandonment to almost every form of idolatry which prelented itself to them. Notice the list: the Baalim, the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Zidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the children of Ammon, the gods of the Philistines. The anger of Jehovah against them proceeded in judgment through the Philistines and the men of Ammon, and it continued for eighteen years. Then, in their sore distress, they cried to God, and for the first time it is recorded that He refused to save them, reminding them of how repeatedly He had delivered them, and yet they had turned back to their evil courses. In the message of His anger there was clearly evident a purpose of love. He would recall them to a recognition of His power by bidding them seek deliverance from the gods whom they had worshipped. The method produced the result. They put away the strange gods and returned to Jehovah. Then, these words admit us to the deep fact underlying all the Divine activity: "His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel." The Hebrew word literally means "impatient." It suggests God's restlessness in the presence of suffering. It is the restlessness of His love, and that is the cause of His anger, and the governing principle in all its activities.

Chapter 11

Jephthah fled from his brethren.
Judges 11:3

To those who are willing to see it, the story of Jephthah affords a solemn warning as to the wrong of treating a child born out of wedlock with contempt. It is constantly done, even by excellent people, and it is wholly unjust. Here we see God raising up such a man to be a judge of his people, and to deliver them in time of grave difficulty. Jephthah was the son of a harlot, and had been thrust out from his inheritance by the legitimate sons of his father. The iron had entered into his soul, and he had gathered to himself a band of men, and had become a kind of outlawed freebooter. He was a man of courage and heroic daring, and it is impossible to read the story of the approach of the men of Gilead to him in the time of distress without recognizing the excellencies of his character. He can hardly be measured by the standards of Israel, for he had lived outside the national ideal. Yet it is evident that he was a man of clear religious convictions. All of which should be remembered when the question of his vow is discussed. The picture of this man, defrauded by his brethren of his rightful inheritance, fleeing from them with the sense of wrong burning its way into his soul, is very natural and very sad. The one thing which we emphasize is that God did not count the wrong for which he was not responsible, a disqualification. He raised him up; He gave him His Spirit; He employed him to deliver His people in the hour of their need. Let us ever refrain from the sin of being unjust to men by holding them disqualified for service or friendship by sins for which they are not to blame.

Chapter 12

We will burn thine house upon thee with fire.
Judges 12:1

We draw attention to these words in the story because they illustrate the arrogance with which injustice often speaks, and the sequel shows the utter futility and folly of such boasting. The men of Ephraim could have had no reason for this complaint and threat, other than that of hatred of Jephthah. They complained that he had not called upon them to help as he went forth to war with Ammon. The folly of that complaint is evidenced by the fact that he had gained a complete victory without their aid. If he had failed, they might have had some reason for complaint. The answer of Jephthah to the complaint and threat was logical and final. He first told them why he had not called them. When he and his people had been at strife with Ammon, he had asked the help of Ephraim, and it had been withheld. Why then should he appeal to them again? Having thus given an answer to the complaint, he replied to the threat by severe punishment. It may safely be affirmed that behind arrogance and threatening, there is invariably injustice; and further, that these things are the sure signs of incompetence. A frantic boast is proof positive of fundamental weakness. To threaten frightfulness is to declare the consciousness of wrong. Those who are strong in the sense of the justice of their cause, are never arrogant in their speech; they do not threaten, they act. When we are tempted to loud protestations of ability, we may well seek for the weakness which inspired us to such wordiness. When we are inclined to threaten, we are wise if we ask ourselves what injustice prompts such action.

Chapter 13

Wherefore asketh thou after My name, seeing it is Wonderful?
Judges 13:18

This answer of the heavenly Visitor to Manoah is very interesting. Whereas the answer was in itself in the form of a question, it was nevertheless a declaration. He told him that His name was Wonderful. All this opens out a line of study which may be followed with profit. The reading of this reply almost inevitably calls to mind two other passages of Scripture, far apart in the books of the Bible. The first is in Genesis 32. 29, "Wherefore it is that thou dost ask after My name?" The other is in Isaiah 9. 6, "His name shall be called Wonderful." The question was addressed to Jacob by one who was described as "A man"; (Gen. 32. 24), and concerning Whom Jacob said in the morning. "I have seen God face to face" (Gen. 32:30). The prophecy was concerned with the Child, the Son upon Whose shoulder government is to rest, and Whose name is also "Mighty God." The visitor to Manoah is described as "The Angel of Jehovah," and Manoah's wife described Him as "A Man of God." A careful study of the Old Testament Scriptures will show that there is a distinction between the phrases, "an angel" and "the Angel of Jehovah." "The Man of God," Whose name was "Wonderful," was none other than the Son of God. Here then we have a Christophany, and so wherever this august title "the Angel of Jehovah" appears. I repeat: all this opens out a profitable line of study. This note is only intended to suggest it.

Chapter 14

And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him.
Judges 14:6

The story of Samson is one of the strangest in the Old Testament. It is surely that of a great opportunity and a disastrous failure. Everything would seem to have been in his favour. The story of beginnings is full of tragic pathos in the light of the after years. His birth was foretold, and the method of his training indicated by the Angel of Jehovah, whose name was given as Wonderful. Of his earlier years it is said that "the Spirit of Jehovah began to move him." Had he but yielded wholly to the impulses of the Spirit, how different a story might have been recorded! In this chapter the boy is seen, having grown to manhood's estate, full of strength and of passion. Going to Timnah, he saw a woman of the Philistines, and desired to take her to wife. His parents attempted to dissuade him, but he determined to follow his own inclination. This action was a direct violation of the law of God. There is nothing to admire in this man in these transactions. In the course of the reading, two statements arrest our attention. The first is in verse 4: "His father and mother knew not that it was of Jehovah"; and the second in verse 6: "The Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon him." They both reveal God over-ruling the life of this man, and giving him renewed opportunities, in spite of his failure. The phrase, "It was of Jehovah," is used in the same sense as in Joshua I I.20. God makes the folly of man to contribute finally to the fulfilment of His own purpose.

Chapter 15

We are come down to bind thee.
Judges 15:12

What a contemptible action is recorded here on the part of the men of Judah. Three thousand of them went down to bind Samson, in order to hand him over to the Philistines. Their words revealed their meanness of spirit. They said: "Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us?" What terrible abjectness was this on the part of the people who had been made a nation having God as their one and only Ruler! So low had they sunk at this time that they were willing to bind, and hand over, the one man who was a menace to their enemies. There is no situation more tragic than that in which the people of God, in cringing fear of their enemies, are prepared to sacrifice a man who alone among them has the courage and the ability to oppose those enemies. And yet the same kind of thing has often been done in the long process of the enterprise of faith. As we see Samson, the Spirit of Jehovah again coming upon him mightily, breaking the bonds, and then with terrific onslaught, armed only with the jawbone of an ass, slaying a thousand of their number, we are conscious of what he might have been and done, had he been wholly yielded to that "Spirit of Jehovah," instead of governed so largely by the fires of his own passion. No force employed against him, whether that of the direct hostility of his enemies, or that of the treachery of his kinsmen, could have overcome him. In him was powerfully illustrated the truth of Shakespeare's words:

Chapter 16

But he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.
Judges 16:20

Than this, there is no more tragic sentence in the whole Bible. It reveals a most appalling condition, that of the unconscious loss of the one essential to success in the work of God. At last the hour had come in which God no longer co-operated with Samson; and the man did not know it! It is impossible to believe that this unconsciousness was a sudden thing. That is to say, this man had lost the keen consciousness of the presence of God, or else he would have been conscious of His absence. Having yielded to his own passions, rather than to the Spirit of God, he had come to the condition in which his knowledge of the power of that Spirit was intellectual rather than experimental. He had had great experiences of that power, and he went on expecting them, even when he was making them impossible by his manner of life. In the hour of need, he said: "I will go out as at other times'; but he could not. The expected experience did not come. He was caught, and blinded, and made the bond-slave of his foes. The story is one to fill the soul with holy fear. The possibility of going on in an attempt to do the work of God after God has withdrawn Himself, is an appalling one. The issue is always that of defeat and the uttermost shame. The value of the whole story for us is that it ought to teach us that if we yield ourselves to those desires of the flesh and spirit which are out of harmony with the will of God, He must withdraw from us the power in which to do His work. The only way to be sure that we have not lost the fellowship of enablement, is to maintain a conscious fellowship in complete obedience.

Chapter 17

In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Judges 17:6

These words constitute a commentary on the conditions obtaining in this particular period; and they were doubtless written at a later time, when the nation was brought to a more orderly state under the rule of its kings. Whether the writer intended to or no, there is a deeper note in them than that. The nation had turned away from its one true King. He had not abandoned them utterly. That He had never done. But they had flung off restraint, and were acting according to their own desires. This chapter, and the next four, do not continue a consecutive history. That ended with the story of Samson. In these five chapters we have illustrations of the internal conditions of the national life, and it is most probable that they were written with that intention. The strange and deadly mixture of motive is set forth in the story of Micah. His act was a violation of the second Commandment. When he made images to himself and to his household, he was not adopting the idolatries of the heathen. His mother's words reveal her recognition of Jehovah, "Blessed be my son of Jehovah." So also do his own words to the Levite: "Now know I that Jehovah will do me good." Micah was desirous of maintaining his relations with God, but he attempted to do so by violating the commands of God. When in full and practical loyalty the King is dethroned, it is impossible to maintain relationship with Him.

Chapter 18

So they set them up Micah's graven image which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.
Judges 18:35

Whether intentionally on the part of the writer or no, there is a touch of satire in this declaration. There, at Shiloh, was the true centre of the national life, the house of God. In connection with its worship, all the resources of national strength were to be found. Nevertheless, at Dan they gathered about the false, and rendered a worship which was destructive. The terrible decadence of the religious idea is very startlingly revealed in this whole story. The consciousness of the importance of religion was deeply embedded in the mind of the people. Micah must worship, and the Danites felt the necessity of maintaining some kind of relationship with God. Then why did they turn from the true, to a perversion which was utterly false? The answer is found in the revelation of motive. In each case there was a prostitution of religion to purposes of personal prosperity. Micah hoped by the maintenance of some form of worship, and the presence of a priest, that Jehovah would do him good, by which he evidently meant that material prosperity would come to him. The Danites, going forth on the enterprise of providing more territory for themselves, were anxious for the maintenance of religion. Whenever religion is acknowledged and adopted merely in order to ensure material prosperity, it suffers degradation. Thus do men try to serve God and Mammon. It cannot be done. The attempt always fails. All history proves the folly of leaving the true God for the false, in the ruin which results to those who do so. God is not mocked.

Chapter 19

Consider of it; take counsel, and speak.
Judges 19:30

This, and the next two chapters, tell the story of a Levite, and in them again a clear mirror is held up to the times, revealing the most startling moral conditions, and showing how good and evil conflicted during the period. These particular words reveal the effect produced upon the people by the terrible message conveyed by the portions of this dead woman. In the story there are several things we do well to note. First, we must recognize the imperfection of the times as revealed in 'the practice of polygamy and concubinage among the chosen people. And yet, even in these matters, we see how far they were in advance of the peoples of the land. There is evidenced a moral sense, and an ideal of virtue which stands in striking contrast to the practices of the other nations. The fact that a Levite took to himself a concubine shows a low level of morality, but this must be considered in the light of the times. When this is done, we notice the sacredness which characterized his thought of his relation to her. This was entirely distinct from the loose conceptions of the Canaanitish people. Then again, the terrible degeneracy of a section of the chosen people is seen in the action of the men of Gibeah, which was nothing less than that of the men of Sodom of long before. And once more, on the other hand, the method of the Levite, drastic and terrible, by which he drew the attention of Israel to the sin of these men, is a revelation of the conscience of the better part of the people concerning purity. All this portrays the results of the loss of the keen sense of the Kingship of God.

Chapter 20

And the Lord smote Benjamin before Israel.
Judges 20:35

These words briefly recall the real meaning of the awful judgment that fell upon Benjamin. It was the stroke of God. The chapter gives the result of the consideration, taking counsel, and speaking, of the nation in answer to the call of the Levite. His action served its purpose. The nation was stirred to its centre. A great moral passion flamed out. Underneath all the degeneracy there was a very definite stratum of religious conviction, and it was this which, in the presence of the iniquity of the men of Gibeah, sprang to life and action. It is very remarkable how, in the case of nations backsliding from religious ideals, this is ever so. In the midst of the most soiled and debased times, in the presence of some more than usually violent manifestation of evil, the slumbering convictions of a people will flame into new sensitiveness and demand recognition. In response to the ghastly and bloody appeal of the Levite, Israel gathered itself together before God, seeking to know how to act. The low level of morality which had manifested itself in so fearful a form, could only be dealt with by general suffering. The men who were m the wrong were brutally defiant. Moreover, they were strong enough at first to defeat the army of Israel. This fact at least suggests that Israel was not clean enough herself to punish wrongdoers. Again the people gathered before God, and this time in weeping and lamentation. After this, they again went forward, this time to victory and the sore punishment of the sinning people, and those who had condoned their sin. Thus not Israel, but God, smote Benjamin.

Chapter 21

Why is this come to pass in Israel, that there should be today one tribe lacking in Israel?
Judges 21:3

This is a very sad chapter, and gives us the last of the illustrations of the conditions obtaining when there was no king in Israel. As we have seen, more than once the writer drew attention to the fact, and so traced the lawlessness to the lack of authority. The truth is that Israel had lost its living relation to its one and only King. Uninstructed zeal, even in the cause of righteousness, often goes beyond its proper limits, and does harm rather than good. The terrible slaughter of the men of Benjamin continued until not more than six hundred of the tribe were left. Then another of those sudden revulsions which characterize the action of inflamed peoples occurred. Israel is seen suddenly filled with pity for the tribe so nearly exterminated. They realized that the unity and completeness of the family of Jacob was threatened by their action. The sad part of the story is that, to remedy the threatened evil, they resorted to means which were utterly unrighteous. Wives were provided for the men of Benjamin by further unholy slaughter at Jabesh-Gilead, and by the vilest iniquity at Shiloh. It is impossible to read these last five chapters without realizing how perilous is the condition of any people who act without some clearly defined principle. Passion moves to high purpose only as it is governed by principle. If it lacks that, at one moment it will march in heroic determination to establish high ideals, and purity of life; and almost immediately, by some change of mood, will act in brutality and all manner of evil. Humanity without its one King, is cursed by lawlessness.