JUDGES - CHAPTER 19
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
“And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that
there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a
concubine out of Bethlehem-judah.”
being no king in Israel declares that those days were simply the foreshadowing of
this present age, when it is not only in the world, but also in the professing
church, as though Christ weren’t Lord. The
events recorded in this chapter therefore are meant to teach us truth relative to
these present evil days.
is significant that the divine spotlight focuses again upon a Levite, for as noted
already, the Levite represents believers, with special emphasis upon their work or
service; but as in the previous chapter we were shown a Levite out of his proper
place, and engaged in evil, so here also we find another disobedient Levite, his
disobedience being revealed in his having taken a concubine, for this was going
beyond what God had ordained for man, His appointment being one man and one woman
joined together in marriage. It seems
therefore, that the lesson here has to do with going beyond what the Word of God
authorizes, and certainly no one can deny that this is the very evil rampant both in
the world and in the professing church today. But
it has to do also with the pursuit of ease and pleasure, with its resultant neglect
of God’s work, and again, it can’t be denied that this too is characteristic of
the professing church today.
Bethlehem-judah means house of bread and praise, and is a figure or type of
the written Word, his taking her from that town confirms that the evil being
portrayed in this chapter has to do with taking out of, or reading into Scripture
what isn’t there. The folly of this is
declared in Re 22:18-19.
“And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto
her father’s house to Bethlehem-judah, and was there four whole months.”
distress caused him by her evil conduct portrays the grief which attends every
activity not authorized by Scripture; and her departure from him declares the
transience of everything not founded on God’s Word.
unto her father’s house” also furnishes instruction, for the activity of that
house reveals it to have been a place of indolence and revelry; and again, no
spiritual mind will fail to note that this is exactly the character both of the world
and of the professing church today. We
live in an age when men “are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Tim
3:4), with the result that the professing church lies in ruins for lack of those
willing to give themselves to God’s work. This
is the consequence of the license resulting from refusal of Scriptural restraints.
her father’s house was in Bethlehem-judah, which we have already seen to be a
figure or type of the Word of God, reminds us that this evil is to be found, not only
in Satan’s apostate counterfeit, but also in the true Church.
“four whole months” of her sojourn there is rendered in some versions as “a
year and four months,” but in either case the factor is four, the number of
testing. It was designed to reveal
whether he would be content to live without this evil woman, but as the sequel
discloses, he wasn’t.
“And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and
to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she
brought him into her father’s house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he
rejoiced to meet him.”
the disobedient Levite went after the harlot concubine, so does the professing church
reach out to embrace the error of going beyond what God’s Word authorizes.
Nor is the true Church blameless in this regard.
She too displays an eagerness to go beyond the authority of Scripture, as is
evidenced all too clearly in her widespread adoption of the world’s methods
relative to both worship and service. The
forbidden wine, once tasted, exercises a fatal fascination that lures even true
believers out of the path of obedience to the simple order laid down in Scripture.
having his servant with him.” This
nameless servant, like the one sent to find the bride for Isaac, appears to be a type
of the Holy Spirit, a fact which reminds us that the lessons of this chapter are as
much for the true Church as for her apostate counterpart.
The presence of the servant reminds us that the Holy Spirit, Who never ceases
to dwell in the body of the believer even when that believer chooses to live in sin,
is often the sorrowful witness of what grieves and quenches Him.
and a couple of asses.” As noted
already, the ass represents the body as the servant of the old nature.
The Levite’s having two asses, therefore, indicates that the second was
intended for the use of the harlot concubine on her way back to his house.
The lesson couldn’t be clearer. It
is the old nature, not the new, that accommodates the evil activity associated with
departure from the simple order laid down in Scripture.
And the two asses declare that I may yield my body not only to the
gratification of my own fleshly lusts, but also to the promotion of evil doctrine and
unscriptural order within the church.
and she brought him into her father’s house.”
As noted already, her father’s house appears to have been a place of ease
and pleasure, so that the Levite’s being brought into that house is the symbolic
declaration of the truth that he who goes beyond what is written in Scripture is
likely to find himself in the same place spiritually.
That the church, genuine, as well as professing, is in that “house” today,
and for the same reason (going beyond Scripture), is all too apparent, for no honest
man will refuse to admit that for the most part, our churches are little more than
religious social clubs.
as the harlot concubine herself is also a figure of the false church, her father is
clearly a figure of Satan, the spiritual father of all apostasy.
His rejoicing therefore, at the coming of the Levite into his house, portrays
the rejoicing of Satan over every activity of man beyond what is authorized in
God’s Word. The terrible condition of the church today (genuine and false
alike), and for the same cause (going beyond God’s Word), brings immeasurable
delight to Satan, and a corresponding measure of sorrow to God.
“And his father in law, the damsel’s father, retained him; and he abode
with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there.”
is from a root word meaning to fasten upon or seize - exactly what
Satan does with all who place themselves in his power, as, for example, the believer
who goes beyond what is written in Scripture.
three is the number of resurrection, the three days spent in that house remind us
that believers (those who stand spiritually on resurrection ground) may be guilty of
going beyond God’s Word to live in pleasure and ease instead of being about the
Lord’s business. His lodging and
revelry there represent the Christian life wasted in ease and pleasure in the company
of the unconverted. How many Christians
spend their lives in just such fashion!
And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning,
that he rose up to depart: and the damsel’s father said unto his son in law,
Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.”
is the Biblical number of testing, and the Levite’s intention to depart on the
fourth day portrays the truth that there are some believers, tested by conscience and
the Word of God, who become aware of their folly, and determine to extricate
themselves from their bondage to ease and pleasure; but Satan doesn’t let his
victims escape easily, a truth portrayed in the importunity of the Levite’s
father-in-law, who thwarted the good intentions by urging just a little more
indulgence. So has Satan foiled many a
good intention. The warning of Pr 6:10
was never more needed than today, “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little
folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and
thy want as an armed man.” Multitudes
of true believers are impoverishing themselves for eternity by stifling the voice of
conscience, and continuing to lie in beds of ease and pleasure, while precious time
that others are using wisely, hurries by never to be recalled.
“rising early in the morning” speaks of good intentions, for as has been noted in
other studies, it is recorded of some of the worthies of faith that they rose up
early in the morning to do God’s bidding, e.g., Abraham going to offer Isaac (Ge
22:3). Someone, however, has commented
aptly that the way to hell is paved with good intentions.
Good intentions not carried out are worthless.
“And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them together: for the
damsel’s father had said unto the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all
night, and let thine heart be merry.”
just such persuasion to enjoy ease and pleasure has Satan enticed many a believer to
fritter away a whole lifetime. Every
Biblical reference to literal night directs our attention to the spiritual darkness
of the world during the absence of Him Who is the Light of the world.
Those who watch for their Lord’s return, spend that night sorrowing at the
havoc being wrought by sin; but they weep in the assurance that “Weeping may endure
for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Ps 30:5).
On that morning when darkness will be dispelled by the sudden appearance of
Him Who is the bright and morning star (Re 22:16), their tears will be wiped away,
and their labor rewarded. Very
different, however, will be the lot of those who have spent the night in revelry in
the company of the unconverted. Their
laughter will give place to weeping as the light of that morning discloses the full
extent of their folly.
“And when the man rose up to depart, his father-in-law urged him: therefore
he lodged there again.”
so are the foolish enticed to spend in ease and pleasure time that ought to be
invested for eternity in view of the judgment seat of Christ.
“And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart: and the
damsel’s father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee.
And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them.”
is the Biblical number of responsibility, and the determination of the Levite to
depart that day declares the truth that there are some who, even though it may be
late in life, do eventually discover their folly, and try to extricate themselves.
is significant that it is recorded twice that “they did eat and drink,” but here
it is said only that “they did eat.” Drinking
speaks of pleasure, while eating speaks of satisfaction, so that the absence of any
reference to their drinking on that fifth day, may perhaps be the symbolic
announcement of the truth that the pleasures of sin are of short duration.
But the fact that they ate declares the sad truth that the man who has spent
the better part of his days finding his satisfaction in the things of earth,
eventually loses the capacity to find satisfaction in things that are spiritual.
This is tragic, for all too quickly, earth’s ability to satisfy, like its
ability to furnish pleasure, also fades away, leaving destitute those who have lived
only for the things of earth rather than the things of heaven.
afternoon the better part of the day was gone, and what disastrous consequences
attended the wasting of the morning hours! Only
eternity will reveal how different the record of that day might have been had the
Levite acted upon his good resolve, and left early in the morning.
How different the record of some of our lives would be had we also acted upon
our good resolves!
“And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant,
his father-in-law, the damsel’s father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth
toward evening. I pray you tarry all
night: behold the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry;
and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home.”
departure of the Levite represents the departure of a believer from a place that he
knows to be wrong; but it is ominously significant that he took with him the
concubine, who as noted already, represents the evil of going beyond the authority of
Scripture to indulge the lusts of the flesh. Many
a believer has been guilty of similar folly. He
has left an association that he has seen to be wrong, but has taken with him the very
latitudinarianism that made it wrong, so that he takes with him that which will
corrupt the new association. It is that
very spirit which has brought the world into the professing church, corrupting her.
must note also, however, that his servant, type of the Holy Spirit, had been with him
all the while, and now also goes with him. We
may quench and grieve the Holy Spirit, but once sealed as those who belong to God,
that Holy Spirit never leaves us, even though often compelled by our folly to go with
us into places and associations He must abhor.
is also significant in connection with the words “that thou mayest go home,” that
the literal rendering is “that thou mayest go to thy tent.”
The tent is the symbol of the pilgrim life, and in his father-in-law’s use
of the term we see the subtlety of Satan. Unable
to detain the believer in the place of blatant error, he will pretend to send him
back to a Scriptural pilgrim life, knowing full well that as long as the
“concubine” also goes with him, there will be no pilgrim walk, the disobedience
that goes beyond the authority of Scripture making such a life impossible.
“But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and
came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses
saddled, his concubine also was with him.”
Levite finally broke free, but the terrible sequel raises the question as to whether
he might just as well have remained eating and drinking in the house of his
father-in-law. There is a solemn lesson
here relative to God’s time. It
isn’t just to the unconverted that the warning is sounded “Behold, now is the
accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Co 6:2).” It applies also to the believer.
As there is a point beyond which God’s Spirit will not strive with the
sinner (Ge 6:3), so, it would appear, may there be also a point where He will cease
to strive with the disobedient saint. Note
for example the reference to the homecall of the disobedient believers in 1 Co 6:30.
God’s Spirit very obviously had ceased to strive with them.
We should note also the case of the Israelites in Numbers 14.
Having refused to enter the land in God’s time, they were prevented from
ever entering, in spite of their change of heart recorded in verse 40.
is much in the narrative to indicate that the Levite whose life we are now
considering, may well be a type of just such a believer; and the terrible events that
followed his departure from the house of his father-in-law, should make us tremble to
trifle with God’s time in any matter.
journey brought him to “Jebus, which is Jerusalem,” the Canaanite name Jebus
revealing that the city which Israel had once taken, had been repossessed by the
enemy. But Jerusalem speaks of the peace
which God has made the portion of every obedient believer (Jerusalem means dual
peace shall be taught: lay or set ye double peace, while Jebus means he
will be trodden down). Its having fallen again into the hands of the enemy, reminds us
that when we, by disobedience, forfeit the peace which is the concomitant of
obedience, Jerusalem will become Jebus: we will be trodden down by the circumstances
we had lived above when we walked in obedience.
looked at the significance of the two asses in verse 3, it is necessary only to note
here that they are said to be saddled, a condition we have already seen to represent
the imposition of some measure of moral restraint upon the lusts of the flesh, and in
perfect keeping with the spiritual picture presented by the Levite’s being on his
way home. Note that in verse 3 when he
was departing, there is no mention of their being saddled, i.e., there was no rein on
his lusts. It is significant,
however, that he had with him the harlot concubine.
There might be the curbing of lust in one direction, but free rein given it in
another. Similar inconsistency all too
often marks our own lives. When the
divine standard is ignored every man sets his own, and does what is right in his own
eyes. It is as though there were no king
there is no mention of the fact that his servant was also with him, though, of
course, he was. When the Holy Spirit is
ignored, He might as well not be there at all.
“And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said
unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the
Jebusites, and lodge in it.”
noted already, that servant is a type of the Holy Spirit, and there is everything to
indicate that the Levite would have done well to heed his advice, for certainly he
could have fared no worse than he did in Gibeah.
Through the delinquency of Israel, Jerusalem may have lain under Jebusite
control, but it was still the city of God. His peace can still be enjoyed even in a world that lies under the
control of Satan. We ignore the
promptings of the Holy Spirit at our peril.
fact that “the day was far spent” sounds the warning that for all of us the day
of grace is also far spent. There
isn’t much time left to put into effect whatever good intentions we may have.
“And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city
of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah.”
was forgetting that the children of Israel had become almost totally apostate, a
state that rendered them worse than those who had never pretended to be in a right
relationship with God. Pilate, for
example, would have delivered the Lord, but it was Christ’s own brethren who would
be satisfied with nothing less than His blood.
refusal of his servant’s advice is the symbolic portrait of the disobedient
believer’s rejection of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
The results of his refusal ought to preserve us from similar folly relative to
the Holy Spirit’s direction.
means a hill, and in the symbolic language of Scripture a hill seems to
represent a place of separation from, and above the world.
It may therefore represent the godly separation of obedience, or the evil
separation of mere asceticism or pride, and having regard to the spiritual state of
Israel in the days of the Judges, there can be no question that it is the latter that
is represented here.
is also significant that Gibeah was the city of Saul, the bitter adversary of David
and a type of the coming evil beast ruler who will seek to destroy God’s people in
the soon-coming Tribulation era. Small
wonder that such evil as we read of should be found in this particular city.
“And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these
places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah.”
means the height, and, like Gibeah, may have two connotations: the good being
that it represents the godly separation enjoyed by obedience; the bad being that it
represents the separation impelled by asceticism or pride.
The deplorable state of Israel at the time, compels us to accept only the
latter significance; and the Levite’s determination to lodge in Gibeah or Ramah,
rather than in Jerusalem, reminds us that today there are multitudes of professing
Christians who are equally willing to condemn the world, while approving a religious
travesty that is even more abominable to God.
“And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when
they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.”
spiritual mind will fail to read the significance of its being said that “the sun
went down upon them when they were by Gibeah,” for the literal darkness is but a
figure of the denser spiritual darkness that enveloped Gibeah, and which must
therefore also cast its pall over all who would seek fellowship in such a place.
He who refuses the Holy Spirit’s guidance must of necessity walk in
darkness; and as already noted, that is what is portrayed in the Levite’s having
refused the advice of his servant.
being described as belonging to Benjamin has also its lesson, for Benjamin, meaning son
of the right hand, is a figure of the Lord Himself, so that the city of Gibeah
represents an assembly, but an assembly sunk to unbelievable depths, and standing as
a warning to every reader, of the terrible depths to which the first step of
disobedience may lead the child of God. We have only to consider the awful consequences that followed
David’s first look at Bathsheba. How
quickly he would have turned away his eyes had he known that that look would lead to
adultery, and finally murder!
“And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he
went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them
into his house to lodging.”
refusal to extend the courtesy of common eastern hospitality, declared at the outset
the degeneracy of the men of Gibeah, and proved to be an omen of worse to come, for
the sin of omission was quickly followed by that of commission.
Lord’s own words come to mind, “By this shall all men know that ye are my
disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn 13:35).
The failure of believers to exercise a mutual care, is but the precursor of
worse evils to follow, for, as with the men of Gibeah, the sin of omission is all too
quickly followed by that of commission.
the professing church is following the same path, is apparent to all but the
spiritually blind. Those, for example,
willing to receive itinerant evangelists and teachers into their homes, as in former
days, are becoming rare. And the day
when a visitor to an assembly was offered hospitality by several of the believers,
has all but vanished. But the evil
hasn’t stopped there. The sins of
omission have been followed by those of commission.
The same believers who refuse to minister to others, also refuse to assume any
responsibility in the assembly, or to attend the scheduled meetings, and instead
devote their time, energy, and money to the pursuit of the world’s pleasures, and
quickly end up with a life style that is no different from that of the worldling, so
that the sin abounding in the world, abounds also in the
“And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even,
which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place
hospitable old man, an Ephraimite living in that wicked Benjamite city, represents
the obedient minority found today dwelling in the midst of a largely apostate mass of
mere professors. It is a sad reflection
on the majority of the young in the church today, that with very few exceptions (and
we thank God for those exceptions), it is the elderly believers who hold the assembly
together, and do what little work is done. For
the most part, it is the elderly who extend hospitality, not only to strangers, but
to the other members of the assembly. It
is mostly the elderly who are faithful in attending the meetings of the assembly,
visiting the sick, and seeking the lost and the backsliding, while the young prefer
to pursue careers, keep up with the Joneses, and enjoy the pleasures of a world fast
ripening for judgment.
field is a picture of the world, so that the old man’s coming from his work in the
field represents a faithful believer coming home at the end of a day of faithful
service, a conclusion that appears to be confirmed by his being an Ephraimite, for as
already noted, Ephraim speaks of fruitfulness. His sojourning at Gibeah, which we have taken, in the present
context, to represent the separation impelled by pride or asceticism, is the sad, but
nonetheless true, announcement that many a faithful believer today has to sojourn in
just such an assembly.
Benjamin means son of the right hand, its being said that the men of the place
were Benjamites, is the symbolic declaration, that in spite of their terrible
condition, they represent true believers, and show us therefore just how far a
genuine believer can fall.
“And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of
the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?”
much God would teach us in connection with the old man’s questions! First, he had a concern for the stranger.
Do we have any concern for the “strangers” who cross our paths every day?
Does it matter to us that most of them are on their way to hell, and need to
be warned, and pointed to the Savior? How
long is it since we asked someone, “Whither goest thou?”
The fate of men was of paramount concern to Christ, and should be also to us.
whence comest thou?” Where a man is
going is inseparably linked with where he is coming from, for the truth is that all
of us come from Adam, in whom all die, and are therefore going to hell and the lake
of fire. But most men are unaware of
either their origin or their end, and they need to be told.
That is the whole purpose of the Gospel.
Levite, however, represents one already saved, but he was still in need of ministry,
and so is every other believer. Do we
have any concern for our brethren, or are we indifferent to their needs?
The truth is that in many assemblies, Christians know very little about the
needs of their brethren and sisters. Some
of them are in desperate need of our ministry.
“And he said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehem-judah toward the side
of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehem-judah, but I am now going
to the house of the Lord; and there is no man that receiveth me to house.”
another context, this would have been good, for his going from the place that speaks
of bread and praise, to the place that speaks of fruitfulness, is the spiritual
ideal. But as noted already, this
present context is bad. In an apostate
Israel the place of bread and praise had degenerated into the place of mere worldly
ease and pleasure. There was neither
food for the soul of man, nor praise for the heart of God.
So is it today in Christendom. As
for Ephraim, the fruitfulness was in evil, not good, and so also is it in the
professing church today.
he was going to the house of the Lord, as he claimed, is of little
consequence, for such was the state of the people that the activity associated with
that house had become an abomination to God, an empty ritual having taken the place
of obedient worship. And the fact that
he had been left to spend the night in the street, is sufficient comment on the
spiritual condition of the people. The
men of Gibeah stand indicted by their indifference, and so does many a believer, many
an assembly today.
“Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses: and there is bread and
wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy
servants: there is no want of anything.”
the ass represents the physical body, the straw and provender represent what is
needful for the body; while the bread and wine (symbols of the Word: bread to
nourish, wine to cheer) represent what is needful for the soul and spirit.
The sufficiency of both reminds us that no man will ever be impoverished by
ministering to the needs of others, particularly to those who are of the household of
faith, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially
unto them who are of the household of faith” (Ga 6:10); the Lord’s assurance
being, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye
belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward” (Mk 9:41),
His further assurance being, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of
these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
“And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie
upon me; only lodge not in the street.”
old man displayed both love and wisdom. He
would gladly minister to this fellow Israelite, but by using his own supplies to do
so would also lay up treasure for himself in heaven.
It is myopic economy that refuses to spend and be spent in ministering to
others, the great folly of the professing church today being her refusal to minister
either to saint or sinner out of the limitless store of the bread of life committed
to her care by the Lord Who willingly gave Himself, and Who measures our love for Him
by the love we have for those who are also His, “By this shall all men know that ye
are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn 13:35).
request that they not remain in the street may have been to remove from the men of
Gibeah the reproach of having left the Levite to spend the night there; or it may
well have been that his knowledge of those among whom he dwelt caused him to fear for
the safety of the travellers. Inasmuch
as the street is a public place, it is symbolic of the sphere in which is displayed
publicly what is in the heart. Their having left the strangers there had already revealed the sin
of omission on the part of the men of Gibeah; and in the darkness of night it was yet
to be the stage upon which would be revealed their sins of commission.
As noted already, sins of omission are invariably followed by sins of
commission. This points up the need for
elders to be watchful relative to attendance at the meetings of the assembly.
One of the first signs of departure is the absence of believers from the
Lord’s table, and the prayer and Bible study meeting.
“So he brought them into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and
they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.”
is a picture of the fellowship believers may enjoy here on earth even though they may
be comparative strangers. Faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ is the bond that unites the household of faith.
The provender for the asses speaks of ministry to bodily needs, while the
foot-washing, and eating and drinking speak of spiritual ministry.
Both are needed, and here God would remind us that the opportunity to offer
hospitality, affords also the occasion for spiritual ministry.
the present context, however, that house is a picture, not as much of a local church
during this present Church age, as of an assembly of believers in the coming
Tribulation era. The same principle of
mutual care governs the assemblies of God’s people in every age.
“Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city,
certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake
to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into
thine house, that we may know him.”
scene is a virtual duplicate of that recorded in Ge 19 on the occasion of the
angels’ visit to Lot in Sodom, the context there leaving no doubt that the literal
events recorded are foreshadowings of what will be just prior to the rapture of the
Church, and in the following Tribulation age. The
parallel with the verses now being considered indicate that here too we are being
shown in symbol what will mark the end of the Church age, and the whole of the
of the signs given by the Lord relative to the end of this age is recorded in Lk
17:28-29 “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot .... even thus shall it be in
the day when the Son of man is revealed.” Rampant
homosexuality marked the days of Lot, and the proliferation of that very evil in the
world today, warns us that we are living in the very last days of the age.
The Lord’s return to rapture His Church could be today!
The spiritual significance of this section therefore will be intelligible only
as these verses are viewed in that context, nor are the details difficult to
interpret. The city, specifically
designated as being Benjamite, is a figure of the professedly Christian
western world today, while the old man’s house is just as clearly a figure of a
local church, but the presence of the harlot concubine within his house declares the
sad truth that there is found in every local church much that is of the apostate
travesty, Satan’s harlot counterfeit of the virgin bride of Christ.
In spite of their Christian claims, however, the true spiritual parentage of
the professedly Christian western world is declared in that the men of Gibeah
are called “sons of Belial.” The
Lord Himself declared the apostate Jews of His day to be of the same evil spiritual
father, “Ye are of your father the devil” (Jn 8:44), nor can we miss the peculiar
significance of His further words, “and the lusts of your father ye will do.”
That same indulgence of lust has made western society a cesspool of moral
corruption, and an execration in the eyes of the nations.
encircling the house, and beating upon the door, have also their message for
spiritual ears. This speaks in
unmistakable language of what is happening today.
The present threat to the church isn’t from the “heathen” nations.
It is apostate western society that is hammering at her door, and breaking
down her walls! And as it was the old man’s having received the disobedient
Levite and his concubine into his house, that occasioned the assault, so has it been
with the Church. She too has received
the disobedient, and the apostate, their reception being facilitated by her refusal
to examine the spiritual credentials of those seeking fellowship.
But she has compounded her guilt, for in her quest for numbers under any
conditions, she has actively solicited the fellowship of the unconverted, and
welcomed them without any question as to their spiritual state.
is necessary to note that the old man did conduct an inquiry, verse 17.
In spite of godly vigilance on the part of elders, the disobedient and the
unbeliever may find their way into an assembly, but that is a very different matter
from the blatant disobedience that refuses to conduct an examination.
It is that refusal that is largely responsible for the present condition of
the professing church).
as noted already, the Levite is a figure of any believer, the demand of the
homosexual mob, that he be brought out to them for the gratification of their lust,
is the symbolic announcement of the fact that the world not only seeks to corrupt the
Church by intrusion, but would corrupt also by dragging believers down to its own
“And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto
them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is
come into mine house, do not this folly.”
have noted already that the old man represents not only the small believing minority
within the apostate mass of the professing church, but also the believing minority in
the Tribulation. His attempt to dissuade
the mob therefore, portrays the protest of faith against the madness of professing
but unbelieving society that would drag believers down to its own bestial level.
“Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring
out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto
this man do not so vile a thing.”
man’s children represent the perpetuation of his life, daughters portraying
submission; sons, activity of the will. The
old man’s offer to hand his daughter over to the mob, speaks symbolically of the
willingness of faith to submit to any indignity for the sake of God’s honor, and
the deliverance of others from the consequences of their sin.
Since virginity is figurative of moral purity, her being a virgin reminds us
that the new nature, which is marked by submission to God’s will, is also morally
pure, for it is the nature of Christ Himself.
concubine, however, we have already seen to represent, not only the false church, but
also the error that would go beyond God’s Word to justify the gratification of
lust. His willingness to hand her over
also, is the symbolic declaration of the truth that true faith is also willing to
give up everything that is dishonoring to God.
have noted also that the Levite represents a genuine believer walking in
disobedience, and gratifying the lusts of the flesh, and because he is a true
child of God, the old man would do everything in his power to preserve him from harm.
This reminds us that each of us is his brother’s keeper, and we are to make
every effort to seek the restoration of the erring, and to be equally diligent in
seeking to preserve them from the consequences of their folly.
old man’s viewing the intended rape of his guest as being even more heinous than
that of his own daughter, and of the Levite’s concubine, is the OT portrayal of the
truth that the Lord views what is done to His own as being done to Him.
His care for Israel is declared in the words of the prophet, “For he that
toucheth you toucheth the apple of his (God’s) eye” (Zec 2:8).
His care for us is no less, for in Mt 25:40 the assurance is given,
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have
done it unto me.”
“But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and
brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until
the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.”
it was the harlot concubine alone who was handed over to the mob.
She who had willingly played the harlot against her husband, was now
compelled to fulfill that office, and it was to cost her her life.
The mills of God may grind slowly, but they grind surely.
Death was the sentence pronounced by God Himself against the woman who
violated the marriage bond, Dt 22:22.
noted already, however, this harlot concubine represents, not only the lusts of the
flesh, but also the religious travesty which masquerades as the true Church, but
which is described in Re 17:5 as “the mother of harlots,” and in verses 15 and 16
as “the whore.” That same chapter,
verse 16, describes her destruction in the coming Tribulation era, at the hands of
the ten kingdom coalition which will be the Roman empire revived.
There can be little question that the fate of the harlot concubine here in
Judges 19 is the OT foreshadowing of that coming event.
refusal of the rabble to listen to the old man, is the symbolic declaration of the
truth all too apparent even today: a world bent on the gratification of lust, will
not listen to the voice of God’s representatives in the Gospel.
fact that all of this occurred in the darkness of night, reminds us that a world
preparing itself for judgment, gratifies its lust in the midst of spiritual darkness
resulting from man’s refusal of the light of the knowledge of God, see Jn 3:19-21.
And as the light of morning brought an end to their evil activity, so will the
return of Him Who is the Sun of righteousness (Mal 4:2), bring an end to the evil
activity of a world upon which the judgment of God is ready even now to fall.
“Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of
the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.”
dawn was just breaking, but it wasn’t yet light.
This is the symbolic portrait of the coming Tribulation age.
It too will be the dawn darkness preceding the full light of the millennial
noted already, the old man’s house represents a company of believers, and it is
significant that she who had been in that house briefly, but who had left it in the
darkness of night, returned, but died outside the door.
She who had been so close to being wife to a Levite, died as a harlot
concubine. This continues to be the
portrait of the great harlot travesty that masquerades today as the true church.
She too has sought to occupy the place that belongs only to the bride of
Christ, but she will never be anything but a spiritual harlot concubine, to be
ravished in the Tribulation by the Roman “beast,” dying as it were, at the very
threshold of the door of heaven.
can surely be no greater tragedy than for a man to die as an apostate, having known
the truth, having been at the very door of heaven, and yet to perish.
“And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and
went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the
door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.”
time of light, speaks of spiritual enlightenment, so that the Levite’s rising by
the light of morning, ought to convey some truth relative to the enlightenment, not
only of believers during this present age, but also in the coming Tribulation.
But what was it in regard to which he had been enlightened?
Surely it was that Israelite Gibeah was no better than
Jebus. That same lesson is much needed
today. The religious separation prompted
by pride or asceticism is no better than the undisguised sin of the unprofessing
world, see comments on verse 13.
opening the doors to go on his way, to leave that house in Gibeah, is the symbolic
portrait of the awakening of an erring saint to the folly of disobedience, and of the
beginning of his return to his God-appointed place. And there was much to impel obedience. The harlot with whom he had foolishly associated himself, lay dead
outside the door, terrible reminder that sin brings death, that but for God’s
protecting care, it could have been he who would have lain there dead.
and her hands upon the threshold.” This
confirms what we have taken to be the interpretation of verse 26: the tragedy of
apostasy is that the apostate dies on the very threshold of heaven, for unlike the
unenlightened, he has rejected revealed truth, refused given light.
may be here also the symbolic revelation of yet another truth. Inasmuch as the Levite, for all his error, represents a true
believer, his leaving the old man’s house (which we have seen to represent a local
church) “in the morning” may portray the rapture of the saints just before the
Tribulation begins, for the Tribulation will be but the dawn preceding the full light
of the millennial day. The deadly internecine strife amongst the tribes of apostate
Israel resulting from that night’s evil activity may very well be the foreshadowing
of what will result from the terrible Tribulation age judgments.
“And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going.
But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat
him unto his place.”
Levite’s callous indifference to her state is unbelievable, but is explained by the
spiritual truth being conveyed, for it must not be forgotten that this Levite is the
figure of an erring saint; and the harlot concubine, a figure, not only of the harlot
church, but also of the lusts of the flesh. The
true believer may be enticed by fleshly lust, but in his heart he can have no love
for the flesh and its lusts. Her corpse
carried on an ass is the symbolic declaration of the truth that even when lust itself
is dead, it remains associated with these earthly bodies in the form of desires and
imaginations which the body is no longer capable of gratifying.
returning “unto his place” pictures the return of an erring believer to his
proper place of obedience.
“And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his
concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her
into all the coasts of Israel.”
was the gruesome, and dramatic, announcement of the consequences of sin, and it
speaks of the attempt of a recovered saint to warn others of the folly of indulging
the lusts of the flesh. The knife
represents the Word, and his using it reminds us that apart from the Word there can
be no proper comprehension of the enormity of the folly that would gratify the lusts
of the flesh.
harlot concubine, as far as he was concerned, was dead, and out of his house; but
significantly, a part of her body was now in every tribe in Israel: grim reminder
that the same apostasy and fleshly lusts which she represents, were in the midst of
God’s people - and with what awful consequences is revealed in the sequel.
twelve is the number of divine government on display, the twelve pieces scattered
throughout Israel were the symbolic announcement that while all creation is under
God’s government, His people are uniquely so. Because they are His own, He will chastise them, but leave others
to reap the consequences of their folly in eternity (He 12:5-13).
That truth is dramatically illustrated in the frightful slaughter that
attended the ensuing internecine warfare.
will have missed much of the lesson, however, if we fail to remember, that as noted
already, the spiritual state of the Levite was but typical of the state of the
nation. Note for example, that as he had
formed an unauthorized alliance with the harlot concubine, so also had the men of
Benjamin, during that dreadful night in Gibeah.
Such was the state of the nation at that time that the crime might have been
perpetrated in any city in Israel. This
explains the terrible slaughter throughout Israel in the course of their conflict
with Benjamin. What Benjamin had done,
the others were capable of doing, as God, Who discerns the thoughts and intents of
the heart, knew all too well.
being emphasized that he “divided her, together with her bones,” is also
significant, for the bones would remain long after the flesh had gone.
The lesson is easily read. The
bones in the present context, represent lust as an abiding thing, whereas the flesh
represents the relatively short-lived ability of the body to gratify lust.
lesson will still have been but partially learned, however, if we fail to see that as
it was with Israel in the days of the Judges, so is it also with the professing
finally, there is every reason to believe that in those twelve body parts distributed
throughout Israel, God is pointing symbolically to the fact that in the Tribulation
era the world will learn that sin brings judgment, and that God is the Governor of
“And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor
seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto
this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.”
should note that nothing like it had been seen in Israel since the day they left
Egypt. This leaves the subtle
implication that such vileness might have been seen prior to their departure from
Egypt, but inasmuch as the night of the Passover is a figure of the salvation of a
sinner, the truth being taught is that the sinful activity of our unsaved days is to
have no part in our lives as redeemed men and women.
terrible truth, however, is that in spite of their pious exclamation, this awful
crime had occurred in Israel. It
is the height of folly to believe that saints are incapable of committing the same
sins as when they were sinners. They
are! David stands as the dramatic
contradiction of such complacency. Israelites
had committed this wickedness. The
flesh in the believer is the very same flesh that dwelt in him when he was an
unbeliever. It will produce the same
evil deeds in the careless saint as in the sinner.
Israel was blind to their true state, however, is declared in their pious words.
Similar blindness has fallen upon the professing church.