Verses 16–21

Though there as not one of Gibeah, yet it proved there was one in Gibeah, that showed some civility to this distressed Levite, who was glad that any one took notice of him. It was strange that some of those wicked people, who, when it was dark, designed so ill to him and his concubine, did not, under pretence of kindness, invite them in, that they might have a fairer opportunity of perpetrating their villany; but either they had not wit enough to be so designing, or not wickedness enough to be so deceiving. Or, perhaps, none of them separately thought of such a wickedness, till in the black and dark night they got together to contrive what mischief they should do. Bad people in confederacy make one another much worse than any of them would be by themselves. When the Levite, and his wife, and servant, were beginning to fear that they must lie in the street all night (and as good have laid in a den of lions) they were at length invited into a house, and we are here told,

I. Who that kind man was that invited them. 1. He was a man of Mount Ephraim, and only sojourned in Gibeah, Jdg. 19:16. Of all the tribes of Israel, the Benjamites had most reason to be kind to poor travellers, for their ancestor, Benjamin, was born upon the road, his mother being then upon a journey, and very near to this place, Gen. 35:16, 17. Yet they were hard-hearted to a traveller in distress, while an honest Ephraimite had compassion on him, and, no doubt, was the more kind to him, when, upon enquiry, he found that he was his countryman, of Mount Ephraim likewise. He that was himself but a sojourner in Gibeah was the more compassionate to a wayfaring man, for he knew the heart of a stranger, Exod. 23:9; Deut. 10:19. Good people, that look upon themselves but as strangers and sojourners in this world, should for this reason be tender to one another, because they all belong to the same better country and are not at home here. 2. He was an old man, one that retained some of the expiring virtue of an Israelite. The rising generation was entirely corrupted; if there was any good remaining among them, it was only with those that were old and going off. 3. He was coming home from his work out of the field at eventide. The evening calls home labourers, Ps. 104:23. But, it should seem, this was the only labourer that this evening brought home to Gibeah. The rest had given themselves up to sloth and luxury, and no marvel there was among them, as in Sodom, abundance of uncleanness, when there was among them, as in Sodom, abundance of idleness, Ezek. 16:49. But he that was honestly diligent in his business all day was disposed to be generously hospitable to these poor strangers at night. Let men labour, that they may have to give, Eph. 4:28. It appears from Jdg. 19:21 that he was a man of some substance, and yet had been himself at work in the field. No man’s estate will privilege him in idleness.

II. How free and generous he was in his invitation. He did not stay till they applied to him to beg for a night’s lodging; but when he saw them (Jdg. 19:17) enquired into their circumstances, and anticipated them with his kindness. Thus our good God answers before we call. Note, A charitable disposition expects only opportunity, not importunity, to do good, and will succour upon sight, unsought unto. Hence we read of a bountiful eye, Prov. 22:9. If Gibeah was like Sodom, this old man was like Lot in Sodom, who sat in the gate to invite strangers, Gen. 19:1. Thus Job opened his doors to the traveller, and would not suffer him to lodge in the street, Job 31:32. Observe, 1. How ready he was to give credit to the Levite’s account of himself when he saw no reason at all to question the truth of it. Charity is not apt to distrust, but hopeth all things (1 Cor. 13:7) and will not make use of Nabal’s excuse for his churlishness to David, Many servants now-a-days break away from their masters, 1 Sam. 25:10. The Levite, in his account of himself, professed that he was now going to the house of the Lord (Jdg. 19:18), for there he designed to attend, either with a trespass-offering for the sins of his family, or with a peace-offering for the mercies of his family, or both, before he went to his own house. And, if the men of Gibeah had any intimation of his being bound that way, probably they would therefore be disinclined to entertain him. The Samaritans would not receive Christ because his face was towards Jerusalem, Luke 9:53. But for this reason, because he was a Levite and was now going to the house of the Lord, this good old man was the more kind to him. Thus he received a disciples in the name of a disciple, a servant of God for his Master’s sake. 2. How free he was to give him entertainment. The Levite was himself provided with all necessaries (Jdg. 19:19), wanted nothing but a lodging, but his generous host would be himself at the charge of his entertainment (Jdg. 19:20): Let all thy wants be upon me; so he brought him into his house, Jdg. 19:21. Thus God will, some way or other, raise up friends for his people and ministers, even when they seem forlorn.