READ: Judges 3 & 4
BACKGROUND: Israel’s successful conquests meant many people groups lived within Israelite-occupied territory. Against God’s specific command, Israel intermingled with these people. They intermarried and adopted the religions of these people – worshipping idols and false gods.
3:7–11: a pattern that the author of Judges uses throughout the book: beginning statement, Israel’s sin, defeat by enemies, cries to God, deliverance, and conclusion.
9 – Othniel is Caleb’s little brother and reflects the Godly influence of his family
15 – Ehud was left-handed which is an important detail since he is able to conceal his dagger on the side where it was not expected.
4:4 Deborah is the only judge said to have been a prophetess. She prophesies that since the men lack courage, the credit for the victory will go to a woman (Jael)
21 – Hospitality traditions meant offering protection to a guest. Jael remained true to Israel undoing her husband’s breach of faith and accomplishing what Barak, the great warrior, lacked the courage to do.
22 – The Promised Land was saved by the courage and faithfulness of those who followed God’s commands.
THINK: If you are reading Judges for the first time – or if it has been so long since you read Judges that it feels like the first time – I wonder if you are as surprised as I was by these two chapters. The names and places are a bit confusing to keep track of, but the stories are stunning and simple. So here’s a quick plot summary: A bunch of nations, enemies of the Israelites, remained after Joshua’s conquests and while these nations surely thought this was due to their power and might, they were completely wrong. Judges tells us God allowed these nations to remain to be used by him and for him – to “teach warfare to the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience” and to “see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands.” When Israel’s Judges (leaders) followed God, they lived in peace. When Israel’s leaders did evil, they were defeated and defiled by their enemies. Over and over this scenario is repeated throughout the book.
As with most wars, stunning stories of courage, espionage, and covert missions abound! Ehud (left-handed trickster!) pretends to pays tribute to the “very fat” King Eglon, who is both too full of himself and too full of his dinner to notice the double-edged sword hidden under Ehud’s robe. After getting the King’s attention by telling him he has a “secret message from God” Ehud slyly whips out the sword and drives the whole thing, handle and all, into King Eglon’s belly! Yikes! Then Ehud has plenty of time to escape since the servants assume the King is locked in his room “relieving himself.” That’s got to make a few of us chuckle, right? Next, we have Deborah – who pretty much has to hold the hand of the men folk before they will go into battle. Finally, we meet Jael, by all appearances a very accommodating hostess, who ends up driving some sort of peg right through the brain of her sleeping guest! This is great stuff! I see a new Veggie Tales in the making…
This week I sat with two-year-old Jimmy on my lap and watched the Go Fish video “I’m in the Lord’s Army…Yes Sir!!” We watched as the cartoon soldier defeated all kinds of sin while the other soldiers sang out the battle cry! Do we need to be reminded that this isn’t just kid’s stuff? This world is a battleground for our hearts and souls, and the enemy seeks to leave us plundered and living in constant defeat. God’s looking for a few good men and women and no previous experience is required!
Written By: Deb Howard
ASK: What are some ways that I can resist temptation and defeat this week? Am I willing to step up and answer God’s call on my life?