Here in Judges 20 the men of Gibeah who were part of the tribe of Benjamin killed a man's concubine. They shouldn't done that.
4And the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, "I came to Gibeah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to spend the night. 5 And the leaders of Gibeah rose against me and surrounded the house against me by night. They meant to kill me, and they violated my concubine, and she is dead.This needed to be avenged, punished.
So by lot, the rest of Israel decided they would go up against these men and punish them for their actions. They didn't just willy-nilly decide to attack their brothers, the tribe of Benjamin, but rather went among them and asked them to give up the evil-doers.
12And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, "What evil is this that has taken place among you? 13Now therefore give up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and purge evil from Israel."Benjamin refused to do so.
But the Benjaminites would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the people of Israel. 14Then the people of Benjamin came together out of the cities to Gibeah to go out to battle against the people of Israel.Before Israel would fight Benjamin though, they went before the Lord.
18The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, "Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?" And the LORD said, "Judah shall go up first."The first day, Israel lost the battle.
The second day, they asked the Lord again, weeping at their losses
"And they inquired of the LORD, "Shall we again draw near to fight against our brothers, the people of Benjamin?" And the LORD said, "Go up against them."Once again, the Lord said, go fight them. Once again, they lost the day's battle.
26Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept. They sat there before the LORD and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. 27And the people of Israel inquired of the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, ministered before it in those days), saying, "Shall we go out once more to battle against our brothers, the people of Benjamin, or shall we cease?" And the LORD said, "Go up, for tomorrow I will give them into your hand."The third day was the day of victory for Israel. Benjamin was thoroughly punished for harbouring evil within.
I read over this account and I just keep thinking, we can't harbour evil within us. Even if our losses are great, we need to keep fighting for the Lord. Israel fought for three days against Benjamin, losing great numbers of their men, but they continued to
- go before the Lord and ask what to do
- remain consistent in their regard for the Lord
- mourn their losses and
- continued the battle