The story continues in Judges 20, and the people of Israel demand that the tribe of Benjamin turn over to them the worthless men who had sinned in such a horrific way.
They refuse. They protect their own instead of protecting God’s people, instead of protecting God’s honor, instead of defending God’s word, instead of defending justice and truth. They decide that flesh is the greater bond than the bond of the Spirit of the Lord and the word of the Lord that they are one people, His chosen children.
The rest of Israel assembles themselves before the Lord, before the Ark of the Covenant. They have turned their thoughts to the Lord, at least for a time. They inquire of the Lord and the Lord tells them to send Judah up into battle.
Judah falls before Benjamin.
The Israelites cry out to the Lord and He sends them again into battle. Even more of the Israelites die the next day. Some 40,000 Israelites die in battle. Those in the tribe of Benjamin weren’t the only ones who had been living in sin and against God’s holy ways.
The people of Israel fast and pray and offer His chosen sacrifices to God. He gives Benjamin into their hands.
The next day the tribe of Benjamin is routed and their cities burned. They chose the wrong side. They chose self. Jesus would go on to say as recorded in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
It’s God first and only. That’s the choice. That’s the non-choice. That’s the once-and-for-all-time-it’s-settled choice. It’s Him and only Him.
He will give us love and honor for our parents. He will give us His devoted, selfless love for our spouses and children and family. But that love comes from being His first and only. Everything springs forth from the fount of blessing.
We surrender it all to Him. He consecrates it and returns it to us to be used for His glory.
We don’t defend what is our own. We surrender and sacrifice it all up to Him. It’s for our good and His glory.