Day 25

War Against Benjamin

from the Judges reading plan

Judges 20:1-48, Deuteronomy 18:1-5, Proverbs 16:33

BY Kaitlin Wernet

Scripture Reading: Judges 20:1-48, Deuteronomy 18:1-5, Proverbs 16:33

It all started with a little boy and itchy skin, which is honestly the worst way for anything to begin. He was my little brother, two years old at the time, and as the scratching continued, it became clear the cause was more than an irritation from running around in the grass or an aggravated mosquito bite. Still, my parents applied Cortisone cream and hoped for the best, leaving a message for the pediatrician to call in the morning.

But overnight, I, too, began to scratch my skin, and red bumps proved the cause to be more than an allergy to something we’d eaten for dinner the night before. By morning, my mom was also itchy, the final straw to explain our fate: chicken pox.

So there we were, all three of us, left to schedule back-to-back oatmeal baths, share anti-itch cream, take turns complaining, and inconvenience our one remaining caretaker, my father. To think this all started with a little boy and itchy skin.

Israel was quick to assume sin was a “someone else” problem, and if I’m being honest, I’m often guilty of doing the same. The crime at Gibeah? Certainly it was someone else’s fault. Surely, the people of Benjamin were the only ones who didn’t have it all together, and war needed to be waged against them to make everything right.

But first, God used the war against Benjamin to point out the ways Israel, too, was infected with sin. While these accounts are difficult to take in and unfold like a horror story, they all play a part in God reminding His children what happens when they forget Him and rely only on what they can see. Everyone was doing what appeared to be right in their own eyes, and that lead to death and destruction.

The Israelites first defeat at the hands of the badly outnumbered Benjaminites caused them to weep before the Lord and inquire of Him if they should attack again the next day. It wasn’t until their second failure that they turned to fasting and making sacrifices for their sins. It’s dangerous to keep on living in sickness, but unfortunately, many times it takes something truly terrible to recognize the destructiveness of sin.

Chapter 20 of Judges isn’t necessarily something you’d want to write on your dry erase board or commit to needlepoint, but it’s significant to the heartbeat of humanity. It’s been said that sometimes, to receive the depth of the good news, we must first be able to swallow the bad. And yet, here is my favorite part of this passage: God answered the Israelites, despite their sin. When they asked questions, no matter how infected their souls were, He answered. And that is the God we serve.

We may waver from Him and, for a time, commit to our own selfish ways, but by the grace of God, His commitment is to the changing of hearts. Our stories will all end with our sinful selves redeemed by the faithful Father. Thanks be to Him.


Kaitlin Wernet is a twenty-something who lives to tell stories with a backbone of hope. Armed with too many exclamation points and not enough goat cheese, she spends her days as a writer and editor in Nashville, TN. With a journalism degree and football-induced stress from the University of South Carolina, Kaitlin is happiest with plane tickets in hand or a kitten in her lap. Thankful to be a “She” who Reads Truth, she can also be found writing more of her favorite words at

Post Comments (47)

47 thoughts on "War Against Benjamin"

  1. Tiffany says:

    You completely whitewashed the significance of the story. If that’s all you see, then maybe you should look again.

    1. Tiffany says:

      God is Just! He’s a loving and forgiving father but he will not overlook such evil offenses without discipline.

  2. Becca @ Onederfully Created says:

    So thankful for a loving, forgiving, merciful God who is committed, as you wrote, to the changing of hearts. I’m stubborn and broken, but God isn’t intimidated by my messy life. Thanks for sharing your beautiful words, Kaitlin!

  3. Erica Chiarelli says:

    Oops, this ended in the wrong place..

  4. Bessie says:

    I received word last night that my precious Mother is near death. We are leaving this morning to drive there. I pray I will be there in time to say good bye to her. It is hard, but what an inexpressible joy to know that I will see her again someday.

    1. Erica Chiarelli says:

      I hope you were able to see your mother! Praying for your peace & comfort… <3

    2. She Reads Truth says:

      We’re so sorry to hear this Bessie. Our team will be praying for your mother and family during this time. -Margot, The SRT Team

  5. Julie Whitacre says:

    Praise the God of resurrection who brings life even through death. There are so many things that He is putting to death in me, and just like in today’s passage, it is so painful and costly, but there is such life on the other side! Thankful for a God who is so willing to get His hands dirty and to enter into the messy fray for the purpose of redeeming specifically me (& specifically you!)❤️

    1. Dorothy says:

      Amen sister amen

  6. Lindsey says:

    Did you notice how Israel’s inquiries of God changed?
    At first, the Israelites sound so sure of themselves: “Who shall go first?” Their mind is made up on battling Benjamin, and it seems like this question is more of a demand for God’s guidance. But then defeat comes.
    They rally and encourage one another. They’ve still got this, but they’re hurting after losing many men. This time they weep and ask, “Shall we fight our brothers again?” Ah. The Israelites are less sure of themselves this time, and they make a point to acknowledge their brotherhood with the Benjaminites. Guilty conscience? Second battle: more defeat.
    Finally, the Israelites are overwhelmed, and their posture toward God changes. They weep, they fast, they offer burnt & peace offerings, consecrating and reconciling themselves to God. Again they inquire of God, this time with a mediator present (v. 27): “Shall we fight our brothers again or shall we not?” Again, their question has changed. It’s almost like they were trying to hint and say, “God, if You want to tell us not to, You can…”
    I am regularly astonished by how God uses the Israelites to point out when I’m acting just like them. I’m in a season where I started off much like Israel, knowing what I was going to do and demanding guidance from God. But that hasn’t worked out so well for me. He’s been gradually revealing my need for obedience. This study couldn’t have been more timely for me.
    Despite how tragic this story is, I see glimmers of hope in it that point to God’s ultimate plan for Israel’s (and our) redemption. There were a few distinct parallels in this story that echoed Jesus’ death and resurrection:
    -When Israel inquired of God three times, it reminded me of the three times Jesus prays in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39-44).
    -“The LORD replied, ‘Judah shall go first'” (v. 18): Why Judah, I wonder? But isn’t it interesting that Jesus comes from the tribe of Judah (Matthew 1:2)?
    -“…On the third day… The LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel…” (v. 30, 35): God takes over for Israel on the third day of battle and conquers Benjamin after much pain, grief, and apparent defeat (Luke 24:6-7). And He takes over only after Israel’s act of reconciliation, a peace offering, and with a mediator, Phineas the priest, in their midst.
    Of course, things don’t quite end with the hope that came after Jesus’ resurrection… but in the words of Sally Lloyd-Jones: “There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.” Praise God that He works even when we are at our darkest to change our hearts and draw us back to Him.

    1. Dorothy says:

      Lindsey this is so insightful. Thanks for sharing. I to having been going through some changes and wondering if they were what the Lord wants me to do? I have family and friends saying I should continue or shouldn’t continue but I’ve been following what the Lord says and some of them just don’t understand because they are “more practical and don’t think I should leave it up to the Lord”. Your post has helped me greatly. God bless.

      1. Lindsey says:

        I’m glad to know I’m not in this struggle alone. I know exactly how you feel. I’ll be praying for you, Dorothy.

    2. Audrye Williams says:

      Thank you for your insight!! This speaks a lot to the character of God and helps me see this story more clearly.

  7. KimN says:

    What if?
    What if I asked God what HE wanted me to do to serve Him rather than me choosing what I wanted to do to serve myself?
    What if I stopped judging the Israelites for their foolish wickedness and started recognizing my own?
    What if I stopped trusting my eye’s assessments of people and started to see them through the eyes of my Savior?
    What if I stopped knowing the gospel and started living it with every breath of my body?
    What if I surrendered all that I am ( the good, the bad and the very ugly) to the King of Kings who died to save me because of His unfailing love? Because of His unending forgiveness? Because of His immeasurable grace? Because of His extraordinary mercy?
    What if?
    Please Lord. Work in my life and heart to make it so.

    1. Stephanie says:

      Right to my heart. Amen

    2. Dorothy says:

      Please Lord work in my life and heart to make KimN’s “What if” so in my life, too.

    3. Kelly Chataine says:


      1. Carol M says:


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