In the morning, the Israelites set out and camped near Gibeah. The men of Israel went out to fight against Benjamin and took their battle positions against Gibeah. The Benjaminites came out of Gibeah and slaughtered 22,000 men of Israel on the field that day. But the Israelite army rallied and again took their battle positions in the same place where they positioned themselves on the first day. They went up, wept before the Lord until evening, and inquired of Him: “Should we again fight against our brothers the Benjaminites?”
And the Lord answered: “Fight against them.”
On the second day the Israelites advanced against the Benjaminites. That same day the Benjaminites came out from Gibeah to meet them and slaughtered an additional 18,000 Israelites on the field; all were armed men.
The whole Israelite army went to Bethel where they wept and sat before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord. Then the Israelites inquired of the Lord. In those days, the ark of the covenant of God was there, and Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, was serving before it. The Israelites asked: “Should we again fight against our brothers the Benjaminites or should we stop?”
The Lord answered: “Fight, because I will hand them over to you tomorrow.” (Judges 20:19-28)
Some things are worth fighting for. An unnamed Levite had traveled far to get his estranged concubine back from her father. On the journey home, he had stopped for the night in the tribal lands of the Benjaminites at Gibeah. There, his concubine was raped and murdered by a group of men from that village. But the people of Benjamin refused to bring those guilty men to justice. So the other tribes of Israel went to war against the Benjaminites in order to rectify the injustice.
The first attack against Benjamin had failed disastrously, despite the fact that God had told the Israelites to go up and fight them. After a second defeat, the Israelites prayed and again God told them to fight. At last, on the third attempt, Israel routed the armies of Benjamin, nearly exterminating the tribe.
It was God’s will for Israel to seek justice against Benjamin. Just because things didn’t go well for awhile—in fact went very badly—did not mean that Israel wasn’t hearing from God or wasn’t doing what God wanted. Just because you have problems doesn’t mean you aren’t doing precisely what God wants you to be doing. In fact, rare it is for God’s will to go smoothly. Narrow is the road and hard is the way that leads to righteousness.