These chapters continue the story of the dividing of the land among the Israelite tribes. The largest portion of land went to the family of Ephraim, though it was explained that they would have to go take it from the remaining Canaanites. In the midst of all this, the Lord also provided the cities of refuge, “that the manslayer who strikes any person without intent or unknowingly may flee there” (20:3). Our God is a righteous and fair God. And, of course, the Levites were not forgotten. Though they received no tribal area, cities and pasturelands were given to them.
A lot of historical and land survey type material here: “The allotment for such and such a tribe will be from here to there and around such and such a landmark and back to . . .” We might be reminded that, as he directed Israel, God has directed us as to how to order our lives, our families, and our churches. The intent is never to make our lives unbearable by always having to check the rules and boundaries but that our lives would be well-ordered, joyous, and fruitful as we live under his wise providence. We should listen to God and follow his ways, for they are wise, and his instructions are meant for our good. Let our daily plea be:
Lord Jesus, think on me,
nor let me go astray;
through darkness and perplexity
point Thou the heav’nly way. -- Synesius of Cyrene, Bishop of Ptolemais (4th century)