And the people of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until the evening. And they inquired of the LORD, "Shall we again draw near to fight against our brothers, the people of Benjamin?" And the LORD said, "Go up against them."
This is the account of a civil war in Israel. The tribe of Benjamin chooses to fight for autonomy by refusing to give up a gang of "worthless men" (rapists and thugs), to a national delegation. Thus they were opposed to the justice of God's law. The nation is ready to do what it takes, but reluctant to go to war over this matter. Benjamin has a reputation as a tribe of fierce warriors. This was not going to be an easy fight.
One very good thing occurred in this tragedy. The leaders seriously inquired of the Lord. They went to God with fasting and weeping at every step. When the initial skirmishes led to large defeats, it would have been very easy to lick wounds and go home. Instead, they kept coming with humility before God. He kept assuring them that commitment to the justice of the Law was going to be rewarded.
There was eventual "success", but as in all civil war, it came at great cost for both sides. The tribe of Benjamin was nearly wiped out. Israel suffered high casualties as well. This was a very tragic and violent struggle. But in the end, Israel's commitment to God prevailed. What is interesting is that the chronicler of this battle in Judges is compelled to emphasize the valor of both sides of the struggle. Even though the Benjamites were wrong, they were very brave in the defense of their cause. That shows us that some level of healing had already taken place by the time the book of Judges was written. Seeking the Lord had even brought healing to the nation after a gory civil war.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13