“Come home with me,” he prayed. There was a soft and gentle quiver in his eyes. She lingered on it and wondered. Would she be returning to a former pain? “I ask your forgiveness, Livnah,” he paused, searching her face for signs of acceptance. Livnah blushed and fingered nervously through her hair. “Iyra” she lifted her eyes to the west, “Let’s talk. Walk with me?”
It begins as a beautiful story of restored lovers. You will find it in Judges 19 and 20. A man of the tribe of Levi has a wife who leaves him and goes to her father’s house. They are separated for four months. We don’t know all of the circumstances surrounding their separation, but we do know that he pursues her and when he comes to her at her father’s house, he speaks kindly to her. He is seeking reconciliation.
The husband and wife remain at her father’s home for several days to celebrate the reunion. Then they leave for home. And we, the readers, have every hope, every expectation that this story will retain its romanic renewal. Old pains will be forgotten and the reconciliation will complete its perfect work. But, the story never gets that far…
On their way home the Levite and his wife choose to stay overnight in a town in the territory of Benjamin. They entrust a good nights sleep to the inn and its keeper. During the night, a band of Israelite men ask the innkeeper to give them his male Levite guest so that they may sexually abuse him. The innkeeper gives the men his guest’s wife instead. They abuse her all night and she dies on the doorstep of the house. Her husband discovers her lifeless body in the morning. It sounds too much like something you would see on the present day 6 o’clock news. In his fury, the husband divides her body parts and mails them to the leaders of the tribes of Israel. He wants justice. The men of Israel rise up and completely destroy this Benjamite town. Gruesome… .horrific… .and yet true. Unspeakable assault and injustice towards one Levite husband and wife. And the destruction of a Benjamite town.
We should take note that “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” Judges 21:25. There was no one to rule perspective. No one to determine the treatment of our vulnerability, our openness. No king to discern what was right or wrong, good or evil. No king to rule the treatment of nakedness. You are naked. I am naked. Our eyes are opened and everybody knows. But only the King knows how to rule on behalf of our nakedness. We need the discernment of the King.