“In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite was living temporarily in the most remote part of the hill district of Ephraim, who took to himself a concubine of inferior status than a wife from Bethlehem in Judah.”
Judges 19: 1
“Of Inferior Station”
Are you – Nobody – Too?
Then there’s a pair of us?
Don’t tell! They’d advertise – you know.”
Is there any time in my life that someone has made me feel as though I were of an “inferior station?”
How do I value myself and my worth?
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
“If the souls of lives were voiced in music, there are some that none but a great organ could express, others the clash of a full orchestra, a few to which nought but the refined and exquisite sadness of a violin could do justice. Many might be likened unto common pianos, jangling and out of tune, and some to the feeble piping of a penny whistle, and mine could be told with a couple of nails in a rusty tin-pot.”
If someone asked you to describe yourself in terms of a musical instrument, how would you respond? Would you, as author Miles Franklin so poignantly penned, paint a word picture that depicted yourself as nothing better than a couple of old nails clanging around in a beat-up rusty tin-pot? Quite a description, wouldn’t you say? Rather sad and dreary. And yet, for many of God’s daughters in this world today, this descriptive portrait very distinctly sketches the mental viewpoint we carry within ourselves of the person we think we are.
Whether our self-perspective is the result of things that were said to us or occurred in our childhood or even later in life, the consequences may still end up the same – we are left with wounds that have damaged our impression of not only who we are but of what we believe we are worth.
I had fully intended to begin our study in the book of Ruth today. But as I read Judges 17-21 over again, I felt impressed that God has lessons for us to learn – instruction that would benefit His daughters who have had to endure the damage inflicted by verbal, emotional and physical abuse. As I read the grisly story of the “Levite and His Concubine,” I was reminded that I promised you, when we began our journey together in Genesis, that no matter how sordid or distressing a Biblical story might be, we would not use this as an excuse to skip over or ignore what is difficult and perplexing to comprehend in the Bible. Instead, a story like the one we will be studying for the next few days, only increases my desire to ask our heavenly Father, “Why is this story in the Scripture and what does this woman’s life have to say to me as a woman living in the 21st century?”
Our text today helps shed light on some of the conditions surrounding the lives of the Levite and his concubine. First, the Levite, we are informed, was living temporarily in the hill district of Ephraim. As background, I did some research on the Levites during this part of Israel’s history. If we go back to the time when the children of Israel left Egypt, we find that the “Levites” were descendants of Jacob’s son, Levi. Amram and Jochebed, Moses’ parents were from the tribe of Levi (Exodus 2: 1) and Aaron, Moses’ brother, was chosen by God (Exodus 28: 1) from among the Israelites to be the High Priest at the Tabernacle in the wilderness. The Levites were called to serve God in a dedicated way. They were what we might call the ministers or pastors of the people. As such, their lives were committed to God and all the other tribes were to see that the Levites were cared for. In Deuteronomy 14: 27 (Amplified Bible), God instructed His children, “You shall not forsake or neglect the Levite (God’s minister) in your towns, for he has been given no share or inheritance with you.”
Sadly, when the twelve tribes of Israel arrived in the Promised Land, the unity and harmony God wanted to be cultivated among His children, quickly dissolved. This in-fighting between the tribes fostered a spirit of “each for his own,” and unfortunately, since the Levites didn’t own any land to begin with, they found themselves not only homeless but dependent on the kindness of others. With everybody doing, “what was right in their own eyes,” the care and feeding of another wasn’t high on the priority list. As several Biblical scholars note, the life of Levites during the time of the Judges ended up being an almost mercenary life, as they sold their services to the highest bidder.
Our text today states, the Levite was living “temporarily” in the mountain region of Ephraim. His was not a permanent job. Somewhere during his travels he met a girl the Bible identifies as a “concubine.” Most translations refer to this girl as “like a second-wife.” Not that the Levite had another wife. It’s just that this girl was of a “lower or inferior station.” As one commentary observed, it is very likely her father was not wealthy and could not, as tradition at the time called for, provide a dowry of any substantial amount. Thus, it was considered that the groom was getting an “inferior wife” whose status was on a lower rung of the social and financial ladder.
As our story begins, this woman, who was defined as “inferior,” left the transient life of her husband and returned to her father’s home. And for this act she was deemed to be “untrue” or “faithless” to her husband.
For today though, I want to focus on the harsh defining of a human, created by the King of the Universe – a daughter of the King of Glory – being called a person of “inferior station!”
How often, because of a person’s less than optimal financial situation or their lack of educational rank, we slap some demeaning label on them which unkindly characterizes them as a lesser being than another. What makes this even more painful and destructive is that these were God’s children who were calling each other names, looking down on those they should be embracing as brothers and sisters.
Lest we try to take a detour past Judges 19: 2, let’s not forget the fact that this daughter of God, a concubine of inferior station, was born in Bethlehem of Judah! Sound familiar? It should, for several thousand years later, a precious baby, born of a mother of “low station,” was laid in a manger in Bethlehem of Judah.
It makes me stop and think long and hard about who we so carelessly refer to as a person of “low station” for they may have the “highest calling” on earth.
To all God’s daughters who ever have been made to feel you are a woman of “low station,” I invite you to lift your head high, for your King has called you to fulfill a high calling for Him.
Appreciating hidden virtues in other women will teach you to value your own qualities…you know that growing up female is no small deed, so hail the courage, hard work, and grit of any woman who has lived long enough to become a decent human being. It takes one to know one – it takes a great woman to spot greatness in other women. Every time you notice something you like in another woman, you can rest assured that the same quality exists in you.”
“Who We Are”
“I believe in the integrity of communication,
The mutual freedom to share all
That burdens our hearts
And all spontaneous joys.
I believe in the shared agony
Of mutual acceptance and growth.
The destruction of personalized
Of who we are not.
The reality of who we are
In all our imperfections
Not always excited by
The rainbow challenges of
God’s amazing world.
I believe in the burning
Touch of Love
With courage to be
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