Introduction to judges in Judges
-Hebrew word for "judge" implies more than a judge
-performed as judges, civil duties (administrative) and military leaders (deliverance); Inrig’s “resembled western sheriffs...with forceful personalities who led the people and enforced justice.”
-pre-Kings govt; nation as a loose confederacy (a cross between early American government and Indian tribes)
-office not prescribed in the Law, but approved by God-- individuals (usually) divinely-appointed to serve
-four judges praised in Heb 11:32 (Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, Samuel)
-at least four empowered by the Holy Spirit (Ehud in 3:10, Gideon in 6:34, Jephthah in 11:29, Samson in 13:25, 14:6,19, 15:14)
-what "special people" had, we now always have as believers (w/ app. to taking Holy Spirit for granted)
--> given God's call to certain people at certain times and empowerment by the Spirit, government was by God, occasionally using people
-"judges govt" ultimately scorned by the people in their demand for a king (a permanent leader) in I Sam 8
--> "a confused time"...
-little political unity
-frequent warfare as Jews tried to complete the conquering and occupying of the Promised Land
-after Joshua had broken the Canaanites’ necks, the people/tribes were supposed to finish the job
-see: Joshua and Judges as pictures of the victorious and not-so-victorious Christian life
-oppression as natural consequences of disobedience and one of God’s tools to bring them back
2.) spiritually (worst-case interpretation of 17:6, 21:25's "everyone did as he saw fit")
-recurring cycle: apostasy, punishment/oppression, cry for help, redemption/release, rest (sin, servitude, supplication, salvation [thru judge], spiral downward)
-salvation thru judge-- a la J or repentance & renewal within S
-but in large part, the judge led them into peace and at most, temporary repentance
-learn from the past or repeat it!
-presumably from a subtle slide rather than 0/1 (see: adultery)
a.) as nations...
--> how do Christians survive/prevail in Inrig’s “cut-flower civilization”?
--> current apostasy lamentable, but also an op for greater ministry
-a spiritual void to be filled--more to do!
-a greater contrast to the world; the darker the cave, the more valuable the flashlight; as a light on a hill
-more dependence on God
b.) as churches, the Church and as individuals...
-Cotton Mather's religious dilemma: "Religion has brought forth prosperity, and the daughter destroyed the mother...There is a danger lest the encroachments of this world make us forget our errand into the wilderness."
-see: sin nature; prone to wander; a good start is not sufficient
-MH's ‘they do not appear here either so great or so good as one might have expected...governed by such laws and enriched by such promises."
-Inrig, p. 7
-the issue throughout Judges is “the lordship” of God in Israel
-for us, salvation assured (our deliverance from Egypt), what about lordship??
--> but Judges as not necessarily so glum...
-only in 100 of the 350/410 years are the people explicitly said to have been "in sin"—and not (explicitly) in all regions in all of these times
-and there were notable exceptions, even within those times (four judges in Heb 11!)
-see also: God’s sovereignty over history and His grace/patience in dealing with His disobedient people
à structure of the book of Judges
-prob. written by Samuel
-6 minor and 6 major judges
-Ehud/Samson: heroes from small tribes (Benjamin/Dan)
-Deborah/Jephthah: woman/bastard son of a Gentile harlot (social outcast)
-Gideon/Abimelech: essence/antithesis of a good judge (fear/pride)
--> incl. minor judges, Judges as a study of "God can use anybody"
-epilogue's two stories showing remarkable moral degeneration
-not chronological, occurred early in this period/era
-10-11's cause/effect (Jer 2:13a,b’s two errors; 11 repeated 5x in Judges)
-10's “knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel”--from Hebrew, 3 possibilities:
-hadn't "seen" God (lit.)--the importance of externals, etc.
-weren't "familiar with" God--failed to instruct (Dt 6:7), failed to develop relationship
-didn't "acknowledge" God (Pr 3:5-6)--why?
-taking God’s blessings for granted (Dt 6:10-12, 8:11-18)
-see: import of risking in faith--finding new blessings from God
-see: the import of praise, offerings, worship (I Thess 5:18, Heb 13:15)
-think they know, but relied on ritual obedience and tradition vs. personal conviction
-in general, lukewarm, apathetic, complacent about the status quo
--> w/ app. to 2nd generation C’s; Inrig’s ‘the second generation has a natural tendency to...lose the vision of the first generation. Too often the second-generation experience is a second-hand experience...The parents’ fervor...becomes the children’s formalism and the grandchildren’s apathy.”
2:14-19 (skim) after 11-13's sin...
-on 14's “anger”, Inrig’s “not the petty anger of hurt feelings but the holy anger of a righteous God against sin...revulsion against rebellion.”
-15's serve their gods?!? --> then, serve their princes
-16's mercifully "raised up judges’ in response to 15b's "great distress’ (Dt 4:25-28, 29-31)
-17a's "prostituted"; spiritual adultery (Hos 1:2, 2:13; Jer 3:6,20)
-17b's comparison to the past generation--"quickly turned from their way"
-18a's judges: raised up by God, empowered by the Spirit
-18b's verbs for the people: groaned, oppressed and afflicted-- language of Egyptian bondage and wilderness wanderings (for us, before J and within S)
-19's regression, despite “leadership”
--> 11-19's general cycle: increasing sin, God-given servitude, desperate supplication, God-given salvation, period of silence/inactivity --> increasing sin.... (Ps 106:34-45)
-our battles...are we trending up or down??
-when we cry out, is it temporary or life-changing?; Inrig’s “Sadly, the cycle does not end with the love of God. That love is accepted and used, then discarded like a worn-out shoe.” (!)
2:20-23's reasons for continued Canaanite presence (read)
-21's to punish Israel for apostasy/idolatry (although God also used outsiders)
-22,23's to test Israel's faith
Judges 4-5: Deborah
-here, Canaanite attempt to restore power in the North; Philistines battled Israel in the central and south regions
-probably related to King Jabin in Hazor defeated in Josh 11, 150 years earlier when they had trusted God
-had largely been conquered by the last generation (1:30-33; Gen 9:25; Joshua;
(w/ app. to old sins--even dealt with well--may return later)
-oppressed by those they were supposed to conquer
-they forsook God and vice versa (Jer 3:19-22); responsible because of their cowardice, laziness and unbelief
-3's seeking after God when we have trouble (us, non-believers)
-"for 20 years’--and yet, how slow we are sometimes...
-God allows us free will
-w/ app. to being overwhelmed by circumstances, misplaced anger against God, and unworthiness to go to God
4:4-7's intro to Deborah (skim)
-judge as 4's (respected) leader and 5's administrator
-only woman in Biblical history with a major, God-given leadership role
-only one of the deliverers/judges not to be a warrior; enlists Barak to help
-only one said to have been a prophetess (see also: ch. 5's worship leader / song writer)
-8's Barak's response-- why??
-lack of faith--as an excuse; if she said no...
-questioning whether she spoke for God (4:6) or was willing to put her money where her mouth was...
-she is the leader &/or recognizing the need for God's presence
-vs. treating Deborah's presence as a superstition (see also: God's ark in I Sam 4:2-3,10-11)
--> good interpretation unlikely given Deborah's 4:9b rebuke
-at first, responds w/ timidity (along with Israel's other warriors); II Tim 1:7
-stems from lack of trust in God
-see: too often, men in the church today
-ironic given Heb 11:32-33a; complete faith not seemingly his initial response (w/ app. to faith does not mean blind faith)
--> leads Barak to action; Barak finds his faith (in front of troops) and empowers his troops
-"go" vs. "let's go"; Deborah empowering with a nudge, restoring/developing his faith
-crushes Sisera & Co.-- by God; their P and God's P: 15's "At Barak's advance, the Lord routed Sisera"
Judges 6: Gideon's Call
6:1-6's Intro (skim)
-1's "again"-- the pattern/cycle continues
-2's prepared own (inadequate/inferior) shelters--and not relying on God (Jer 2:13)
-3-5's occupation/looting: crops appear --> Midianites invade and plunder
-6's "cried out": after 2's "living in caves’, 2's "so oppressive", 6's "so impoverished", all for 7 yrs --> why wait so long (time and extent of pain)??
6:7-10's God's response (read)
-at first, a prophet (truth-teller) vs. a judge/deliverer (as in chs. 4-5's Deborah vs. a deliverer)
-reminds them of past deliverance and thus, God's promises
-to prepare them for repentance and then, deliverance; cry for help is not equivalent to a cry of repentance
-9's summary: salvation (deliverance from bondage), sanctification (victory in battles/sin; peace, joy, etc.-- the victorious Christian life
-10's "I am God; they are not..."—short and sweet; convicting
6:11-13's intro to Gideon (read)
-11’s practical or realistic/practical
-12's "God is with you" --> 13's "how can that be??" (Dt 31:16-18)
-see also: why and how long?? (Hab 1:2-3)
-13's "bring us up...put us into...": questioning or merely stating the facts
-Gideon knew God's character/promises, grace/truth, blessings/curses, wrath/mercy--implies significant but discouraged faith
-BUT also implies "God, you need to do something..."
-or confused on cause/effect; they had turned their backs on God!
-had not heard—or had ignored—7-10's prophecy
-12's "mighty warrior" as sarcasm—or more likely, God seeing Gideon for who he could be (w/ God's empowering) vs. who he was (w/o God), seeing possibilities (post-transformation) vs. seeing flaws and failures (as many heroes in Judges)
-God equips ordinary people for extraordinary purposes/work
-see also: Gideon not trembling or needing a “fear not”; from whom/where did Gideon learn what he knows about God (Mom, Dad, others)?
6:14-16's "I am doing something: you're going" & Gideon's response (read)
-14's no direct answer from God; the wrong question—and 7-10's prophet had already answered these questions
-14's strength from 12's empowerment
-looking at potential-- what he was capable of doing
-hard at work in 6:12; his humility/character; his prominent rank in community (given father’s leadership role, 10 servants)
-15's tepid faith, humility or inquisitive about means? (I Sam 9:21 for Saul)
-Gideon’s sense of his total inadequacy as good/bad news (II Cor 3:5)
-parallels to Moses (Ex 3:10-12, 4:1-17)
-reluctance (incl. 6:12's "you" --> 6:13's "us’)
-and also asks for (and receives) a "sign" (6:17-24)
-irony that he refers back to Moses and Israel’s history but fails to remember Moses’ very similar mistake
à see also: dealing with Dad’s Asherah pole later in Judges 6 (not in The Story)—huge!
Judges 7-8 (skim)
à the result of Gideon's faith: victory; 8:28's peace; confidence for next time-- in Christ (Phil 4:13)
-33-35’s good leadership? (see: II Chron 23-24)
-seemed eager to return to idolatry: 33a’s "no sooner had Gideon died..."
à didn't equip others to continue; perhaps worshiped/feared Gideon more than God
Judges 13-16: Samson
-Samson's greatness (Heb 11:32)
-last recorded judge in Judges (Eli and Samuel in I Samuel)
-a lot of text, 4 chapters--most of any judge
-empowered by the Holy Spirit at least 4 times (vs. 3x for all others combined)
-granted supernatural provision by God on 2 occasions
--> but still struggled with lust (at least late in life)
-interesting debate: how much sin is recorded for Samson? incredible disagreement between W&Z and MH
13:4-5’s Samson to be set apart as a Nazirite (skim)
-meaning "separated, consecrated"
-no booze and nothing unclean (her pregnancy and his life); no haircuts (Num 6)
--> Samson raised by godly parents, but the problems of holding the Nazirite line and having an angel announce your son’s birth
-easier to promote morality, but more difficult to avoid legalisms; right actions, but what about motives, heart, vision, passion?
--> in sum, born by special divine provision, consecrated from birth, to be devoted to God, perfectly pure (oops), endowed w/ supernatural power (if obedient), and to free others from bondage
-as a type of Israel, Christ and us
-also typifies Israel and us in sin
-1-2's "seen" (looks only)
-2's "get her for me": father exercised all authority, including the choice of wife
-3's disappointment and scorn ("uncircumcised") toward his choice, but ultimately chooses to defer: lack of leadership, afraid of son—or wise given son's possible rebellion
14:4's "from the Lord" (read?!)
-quite a parentheses!
--> 1.) called to marry a pagan to provoke Philistines (led by 13:25's Spirit; Hosea/Gomer)
--> OR 2.) Samson's weakness overruled and used by God
-Joseph/bros (Gen 45:8, 50:20); of Christ's death (Acts 2:23; Is 53's prophecy)
14:5-9’s lion/honey, incl. 6's Spirit empowering for victory over lion (skim)
-latter forbidden by the Law? (Num 6:6, but Lev 11:39-40)
-MH's "NO": animal didn't die but was killed; didn't eat animal, but the honey
-didn't tell parents twice (??)
-didn't brag to parents (humility?!) OR "making brother stumble"; they just wouldn't understand...
-VS. trying to hide his behavior, but if so, why bring back honey?
14:10-13’s 7-day feast (even though a Nazirite; skim)
-may have violated drinking restriction at feast (W&Z)
-OR his abstinence didn't mean "no party/fun"; AND 10's "customary"
-MH's "it is no part of religion to go contrary to the innocent usages of the places where we live" (and didn’t lose power; can infer that he didn’t drink?)
-be distinctive, but in things that matter (I Pet 2:11-12, Col 2:20-23, I Cor 9:20-22)
-9's “Judah”; Philistines had parked themselves in Judah "who had tamely submitted to their yoke" (MH)
-10's looking to avoid trouble
-11's 3000 men: not to fight Israel’s enemy, but to capture and surrender Samson?!
-Judah the lion?! (Gen 49:8-10)
-army sent to get one man--as with Christ who was seized ‘though 1/10 would have served now that his hour had come, and ten times as many would have served nothing if he had not yielded."
-3000, but still asking his permission!
-men of Judah upset at Samson potentially upsetting their arrangement, irritating the Philistines, shaking up status quo
-GCM's "so low had they sunk...that they were willing to bind the one man who was a menace to their enemies."; not the Philistines who enslaved us but the one man who can deliver us
-like Christ by the Jews to the Romans (preserving the status quo); kill the guy who can save you?!
-w/ app. to blaming the messenger vs. ourselves or the oppressing agent
-perhaps a tribal pride thing-- would rather be oppressed by a Philistine than rescued by a Danite
-dissension, pride, in-fighting; jealousy over different denominations, ministries, etc.
-11-13's Samson tries to reason with them and yields w/o a fight
-gives in but insists on not being killed; suspects/knows that God is going to work thru this event
-in general, indicates a greater understanding of how God is moving thru him
-great example of meekness, for the chance to slay the enemy, to emulate Christ (Mt 26:47,52-54; Jn 18:2's "knew the place"; Is 53:7)
-knows how to yield and how to conquer; a picture of remarkable self-control!
15:14-17’s Beatdown (read)
à Samson as a Trojan Horse/Donkey!
-"fresh"; "old" would be too brittle
-still, an awkward, fragile and unusual thing
-dependence on God; God can use anything/anyone
-irony of a donkey’s jawbone--or any jawbone vs. Philistine monopoly on iron and weapons (I Chron 11:11, II Sam 23:10)
-embarrassing for the Philistines
-worthless before and after, but awesome during
-but another dead body; broken Nazirite vow by touching donkey??; or did he kill it?; or spirit of the Law?
-thrown away at the end; not to be worshipped (like Gideon's ephod-- Jud 8)
16:1-3’s clear moral troubles (begin or continued?; skim)
-"a he-man with a she-problem"
--> second story (vs. just Delilah) underscores that this is a repetitive thing, not just an isolated instance
--> root problem: w/ app. to pride in physical, intellectual and spiritual strengths; scoffing at God's standard, traditional values, etc.
-amazing what people will do for sexual sin
--> but still delivered by God! See: God’s “dilemma” in “enabling” our sin by not bringing judgment immediately
16:4-20’s Delilah à 16:21-22 (read)
-blind...to the Philistines in the room (all 3x); by his eyes being gouged out; to the (effect of the) sin in his life; in sum, spiritually "blind before the Philistines put out his eyes’
--> his eyes the beginning of his downfall and his punishment (Mt 18:9)
-22's "but" foreshadows a happy ending--humble, spiritual blindness departed
-strange that Philistines didn't give him haircuts
-perhaps connected to blindness traditionally kept one from ruling
-perhaps wanted to harness his strength (21b’s “grinding”)
-hair might grow back, but not his eyes
--> trying to control God’s power?!
16:23b-30's suicide/kamikaze mission (skim)
-Samson as the greatest comedian of the Bible-- he brought the house down
-26's “lean” (!!); a half-truth (see: Rahab)
-going back to God
-Samson's prayer, repentance, desire to be used again (Ps 51:10-12)
-OR for revenge (of 2 eyes)-- right motives??
-Samson's prayer of vengeance vs. Christ's prayer of forgiveness
-but not praying for his own deliverance or healing; wants to be used by God
-recognizes it now; irony: blindness leaves; strength not in his long hair
--> regardless, God honors request; God uses imperfect motives (I Cor 4:5)
-Samson finishes well
-at the weakest point in his life; in his greatest dependence on God
-as with Christ, 30’s killing/saving more in death than in life (Jn ____'s a seed most die...)
-never too late; letter to Troy (and bloody urine)
-exhibits God's amazing grace, patience (fall --> favor); not just forgiveness but return to service
--> Samson's name as "little sun (vs. son)”
-a brilliant beginning, intense power and heat, fades but with a glorious ending
-as a lesson/warning to the talented (Lk 12:48b)
-J. Oswald Sanders' "not every man can carry a full cup" (and more difficult to do so)—responsibility and opportunity
Judges 19-21: Benjamite Depravity
-intro: Inrig’s ‘the sewer of Scripture...the most degrading and disgusting story in the Bible, unredeemed by an admirable character or a noble act.”
-connect Judges 19 to Genesis 19!