I’m not sure if you picked up on this or not, but this is an account of a civil war. These are the tribes of Jacob, who is later called Israel, at war among each other. The Benjaminites are the ones that raped the Levite’s wife until she died and so this is retribution for this act since the Benjaminites refused to send out to the rest of Israel the people who were involved in this heinous attack. As a result, after putting up a good fight, they were utterly destroyed.
Do you notice how the author depicts the fighting of the Benjaminities? A couple of times we read about how they were “courageous fighters”, vs.44, vs.46. You wonder if the author of Judges wasn’t a little sympathetic to this tribe or if the author had some roots to these courageous fighters who were defending a rapist culture. Not something I would want in my resume, but it is interesting how this battle is depicted.
It is also important to see how the people of Israel lost the first two battles even though they followed God’s command on what was supposed to happen. It brought them to tears, and doubt, as they wondered if this was actually God’s plan all along. They came back in tears and didn’t know if they had missed something or not. Shall we go back out into battle, after two defeats? Yes, go up. This time it worked. It looked like they didn’t have much of a strategy the first two times. The third time we read about their strategy, it was cunning, and it worked.
Just because God says that He is on our side doesn’t mean that we can just relax, pull up a soda and watch TV. We are still given work to do in order to ensure the best that we possibly can before the Lord.