by Steven Chan
6 July 2008
In the last few chapters of the book of Judges, we read of a tragic incident which occurred amidst the chosen people of God who had inherited the Promised Land. The account begins in Judges 19 about a certain Levite traveller who chose to stay among his brethren instead of being with non-brethren. In Judges 19:11-15, we read of the suggestion by his servant and the response by his master, the Levite:-
“Come, please, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites and lodge in it.” But his master said to him, “We will not turn aside here into a city of foreigners, who are not of the children of Israel; we will go on to Gibeah.” So
he said to his servant, “Come, let us draw near to one of these places, and spend the night in Gibeah or in Ramah.” And they passed by and went their way; and the sun went down on them near Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin.”
We find that the Levite made the right choice in seeking to be among brethren rather than with foreigners (i.e. non-children of Israel). When Christians travel around the world, who do we choose to spend time with? Would we seek out the people of God as this Levite also desired?
However, we note the following in Judges 19:15: “They turned aside there to go in to lodge in Gibeah. And when he went in, he sat down in the open square of the city, for no one would take them into his house to spend the night.” How sad to observe that his brethren exhibited no hospitality towards him and his servants. It is sad indeed to note that no one would welcome them into their house. How do we treat brethren who chose to visit with us? The Bible counselled thus: “Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” (Heb 13:1-2).
But not everyone is so inhospitable and so we read in Judges 19:16: “Just then an old man came in from his work in the field at evening, who also was from the mountains of Ephraim; he was staying in Gibeah, whereas the men of the place were Benjamites”… and he saw the Levite out in the open square of the city. The Levite told him thus in Judges 19:18-19: “now I am going to the house of the LORD. But there is no one who will take me into his house, although we have both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and bread and wine for myself, for your female servant, and for the young man who is with your servant; there is no lack of anything.” Interesting to note that the Levite was planning to go to the house of the Lord and yet no one was willing to open their house to him even though he had no lack of anything – he had brought his own food – sufficient even for the servant of the host. He would not be a financial burden to his host. All he needed was a safe place to spend the night.
The old man replied: “Peace be with you! However, let all your needs be my responsibility; only do not spend the night in the open square.” So he brought him into his house, and gave fodder to the donkeys. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank.” (Judges 19:20-21)
This story teaches us (a) to seek to be with brethren at all opportunities and (b) to be hospitable towards our brethren, especially to those who are visiting in our midst. Let us not leave them in the open square of the city. They may not be a financial burden to us. We just need to be more aware of the needs of brethren who are visitors passing through our lives. Hospitality is a hallmark of the Christian. “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9) It is so wonderful to hear the statement by the old man: “let all your needs be my responsibility”. Hospitality extends beyond just providing a shelter. In the account of the Good Samaritan as recorded in Luke 10:25 -37, he said to the innkeeper: “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.” How do we demonstrate our love for one another? Let us learn from this account and practice hospitality in our lives.