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If we blame God for trials which are for our good, the trials may become temptations to our harm.

JUDGES 1, Verses 1-15

Back we go to the Old Testament to see the next step in the pictures (in OT) of the developments in a believer's life. Genesis - New life; Exodus - coming out into a new place; then worship; then our daily problems; then Joshua - our warfare against the enemies of the truth; now "Judges" - God testing His people to see if they will live in all the blessings God has given them... What does He see? Only Failure, despising the land, disobeying (these 2 things go together). So God punished them. What did they do? They cried to Him. So what did God do? Sent a "Deliverer". When he died, what did they do? Turned back to disobedience... and so on and on through the book we start to read today. Now when we apply these lessons to our life, don't forget, we believers in the Lord Jesus, have the Holy Spirit living in our body. He is the power which enables us to obey. When we finish this book, we'll be reading about our mistakes and disobedience too, in 2nd Timothy. Moses, the great leader of God's people through the wilderness, is dead. Joshua the brilliant leader in the promised land, and the conqueror of it, is also dead. They had both been chosen by God to do their particular work. All that God had commanded Moses, had been written down in a book. And we have that book in our hand, the five books of Moses - Genesis to the end of Deuteronomy. So remember that the people of whom we are now going to read, had the same five books, Deuteronomy 12:1. The people had promised (Joshua 24:24) that they would obey God, and therefore His Word!


As we draw nearer to the end, the devotion of heart to Christ will produce fruit which will appear futile to the human eye... Jeremiah is as example of this.

JUDGES 1, Verses 16-36

Today we start to read the sad story of Israel's behaviour. Through instructions given to Moses, the tabernacle had been built and the priests established to be the go-between for God and His people. The priests became careless and disobedient, so that God could not use them. He never comes to the end of the instruments (people or things) He can use. His new instruments are now the judges... the name of our book. Whether in the days of the judges, or today, power (in the believers) is lost only through disobedience to God and His Word. The children of Israel were troubled later on by these same enemies.

But here you are reading why... they did not drive them out of the land which God had given them. They left some, and these were the causes of the trouble later on. This teaches us that Satan will overcome by trickery - in telling us that we don't need to be out and out for the Lord... so long as we are morally good, everything will be fine. But this is how we are deceived. Faith in God and obedience to His Word will bring personal joy, peace and blessing as we shall see as we go on in this book. And as we will also find in our own life as we go on for the Lord.


In glory, we'll remember the sorrows more than the happy days, for they emptied us of ourselves.


Judg 2:1-5 Do you remember reading in Joshua of the town of Gilgal? They had victories in battle when they started out from Gilgal. It was where the shame of having been in Egypt was taken away. They had been circumcised at Gilgal. (Circumcision in the New Testament meaning is death to the flesh for the believer - Gal. 5:6, 1 Cor. 7:19). But now the angel moves from Gilgal to Bochim. "Bochim" (pronounced Bo-kim) means "weeping". God tells them what was going to result from their carelessness... He would not drive out their enemies. The result was weeping. But it wasn't very deep, for in verses 12-13 we read what they did! Sometimes we weep when we are in trouble, but go back into disobedience after a while. We could say that verses 11-13 were what Israel was, and verses 16-18 what the Lord did.

Judg 2:14-15 We are going to be reading words like these many times in this book. Many believers are constantly in a state of unhappiness and unrest for the same reason... we compromise (give in a little) with the world.

Judg 2:16-23 A preview of the book. We surely need to learn that, for our life, obedience is what we should choose. 1 Cor. 6:19-20.


Divine life has to be guided in a vessel that has constantly to be kept down.


Judg 3:1-6 The Lord allowed these enemies to remain in the land to test Israel.

Judg 3:4 And He does the same to us. He will give us the power to overcome only if we are willing to obey His Word. The details of their disobedience. We have not read of a victory so far.

Judg 3:7-8 They gave up the Lord, so He gave them up, but not without previous warnings!

Judg 3:9-11 Here is the first turning back to the Lord. It was almost as if the Lord was just waiting to hear them call to Him! They had rest forty years.

Judg 3:12-31 But they didn't learn their lesson. Back they go to doing evil! The Lord didn't strengthen them, but He strengthened their enemy! (Do we not realize that when the enemy is so strong against us, it is because the Lord is allowing it?)

Judg 3:15 Their merciful God once more hears and answers.

Judg 3:30 This time Israel has rest twice as long as the previous time. You will notice that some of the "deliverers" had something weak about them. They would not be the type of person, people would choose. Only God could use them. Because He is their strength -

2 Cor. 12:9. The days were evil, because of their disobedience, and therefore everything is in weakness. The individual today who wants to go on faithfully for God, He will give to him strength for the day.


The believer can rejoice in the trial of his faith.


Judg 4:1-3 Once again disobedience, once again calling to God, once again God sending a deliverer.

Judg 4:4 But there was no faithful man God could use, so He uses a faithful woman. This further gives us an idea of the weak condition Israel was in. Today we see the ascendance of women for the same reason.

Judg 4:5-9 This weak man says he will go to battle only if Deborah would go with him! God allowed this to shame Israel. But another woman is going to be the cause of the victory! Surely no man could take any credit.

Judg 4:10-24 The campaign - notice verse 23. (May we bring God more into every detail of our life).


We often desire a removal of the trial more than the state of soul which caused it.


Today's chapter is a song. It may seem strange to you to read of such revenge, violence and destruction. But we never learn the truth of the Bible if we set up ourselves as judges. We need to realize that God inspired every word. The Old Testament is understood only if we understand the New Testament. The Old Testament is the story of physical happenings, and mostly about God's people, the Jews, the Israelites. They were under the law. If they obeyed, they were blessed. If they disobeyed, they were punished. In our day (the day of grace) Christ has come to earth, died for our sins, and through the shedding of His blood, we are cleansed from all sin. Now we stand in a new position. It is a position of GRACE, Eph. 2:8. So don't mix the two. Law and grace cannot mix. But the sad thing about our day is that many believers do not realize that we have a responsibility also to obey the Word of God. We have all our blessings, but our happiness in them depends on our obedience.


Affliction can't injure me when I use submission.

JUDGES 6, Verses 1-10

Judg 6:1-10 Each enemy is, for us, a type of our spiritual enemies today. The Midianites are a picture of earthly things - (they could be our house, car, garden, job or even our children). The first words tell us the reason for what happened in this chapter.

Judg 6:6 They did not realize that their own disobedience was the real reason. (Disobedience so often is the reason for our trials and troubles). The Amalekites - a picture of the flesh or the old nature in us. Keep a note of these enemies and what each one means... instructive for your life. In the first verse, the Lord sent the Midianites because Israel did not drive them out of the land. In the 8th verse, the Lord sent a prophet to stir up their conscience. In the 11th verse, the Lord sent an angel to raise up a deliverer. (The Lord loves to take us out of our misery, but only when we turn to Him).


The believer must realize... his testimony is inseparable from conflict.

JUDGES 6, Verses 11-40

Judg 6:11-18 God saw only one man, Gideon, whom He was going to use to deliver Israel from their enemies. Because of their disobedience, Israel had sunk to the lowest condition since they arrived in the glorious land.

Judg 6:11 Threshing wheat is separating the kernel from the chaff... a picture of separating truth from error. See Proverbs 25:4; Jeremiah 15:19, 23:28, 2 Cor. 6:14. We doubt if there is any more important lesson in our life to learn than this one. "To depart from evil is understanding" Job 28:28. When we confess our sins to Him, He hears, He delights to bless us. Prov. 28:13.

Judg 6:13 True statements. It was not that God had made a mistake, or that all this happened by chance. They disobeyed and brought trouble on themselves.

Judg 6:15-18 Gideon sees his weakness. This is good. But he needs to look away to God's power, and he does.

Judg 6:19-20 If Gideon had not been threshing the wheat, he probably wouldn't have had any wheat ready for a meal-offering to God. (Unless we are living to please the Lord, we won't be able to do what it says in Heb. 13:15).

Judg 6:33-40 God graciously proves His power to Gideon.


A perfectly purged conscience is the basis of communion.


Gideon has more lessons to learn. (2 Cor. 12 9-10 says "when I am weak then am I strong").

Judg 7:2 The great thing in our life is to be able to see that the sins we are going on with are what cause the enemy (Satan) to overcome us. Then when we judge them and forsake them, the Lord delivers us. (Prov. 28:13).

Judg 7:3 32,000 men had responded to the call of Gideon. But God knew that Israel (not Gideon) would be congratulating themselves on the victory about to be won. So all who were afraid were sent home. (What a lesson for us. So often we are afraid to stand up for the truth God has shown us). 2/3 of the army melt away!

Judg 7:4-8 Still too many. The test this time is different, it was connected with how they drank water. Those who quickly took a drink of the water were separated from those who got down on their knees and took a long drink. The former numbered only 300. The latter 9,700. Only those who had a purpose before them, who wished to get on with their business, were chosen. They were tested by water. Water is a picture for us of the Word of God. Eph. 5:26. As believers, how much are we willing to obey the Word of God?

Judg 7:9-15 Gideon hears the dream. He recognizes that it is the Lord Who is speaking to him. It is good to see the Lord in every happening of our life. The result is that Gideon worships the Lord.

Judg 7:16-25 The 300 had one thing to do - keep their eye on Gideon. (The believer has one thing to do first of all - keep his eye on Christ). Victory results. It always does.


A soul can't have enjoyment of things of God without peace which is connected with a good conscience.


Judg 8:1-3 Many, who had no interest or courage before the battle, are now quick to complain to Gideon. Notice his humble reply. (A believer needs to be prepared to face difficulties - even from other believers).

Judg 8:4 But Gideon didn't stop to complain. He and his little group kept on, faint, yet pursuing. (May we believers keep on)!

Judg 8:5-10 More complaints from his friends. What a terrible way for the people to act. But we'll see the result later.

Judg 8:11-21 Gideon could have been satisfied to catch the two princes... but he wasn't. So long as the 2 kings still lived, the enemy still existed. He pressed on. (Some Christians say that believers who press on are fanatical. But we ask "who are we pleasing? God or man".)

Judg 8:22-35 What a warning to us here! Often after the Lord has helped us very remarkably to overcome some trial, we fall into some other trap set by Satan. Very few of us can stand success. Our enemy is very subtle. We can never let down our guards.

Judg 8:24 Satan was waiting to trip up Gideon. It seemed harmless for Gideon to ask for these!

Judg 8:27 But see what happens to these things! All Israel would not follow Gideon when the Lord's work was to be done, but they would when evil was! What a warning to us!

Judg 8:33-35 The story ends in sadness. How quickly they forget the Lord! (After all the Lord has done for us, after all the joy we experienced when we first accepted Christ as Saviour, how quickly we turn back to the poor world).


A sign of weakness is when a gathering itself becomes the object of attention rather than Christ.


This is about Abimelech, the son of Gideon. Sometimes a person is realy blessed by the Lord in some special work for God. Then others (or possibly the person's own son), thinks they can carry it on. They act on the faith of others. Abimelech was a man who took advantage of the reputation his father had. He uses this power for his own personal gain, not for God. All Gideon's sons, except one, are killed. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap". (Gal. 6:7)

Judg 9:5 It is remarkable that Gideon's oldest and youngest sons are mentioned in this instructive story. In 8:20 an older son was one of the faithful 300! The youngest is the only son who escapes! Jether means "judgment to come". Jotham means "Jehovah is perfect".

Judg 9:6-57 This proud, self-centered man murdered those who had more claim to represent their faithful father than he had. Punishment falls on him from a humiliating source.

Judg 9:56-57 But we must realize that any one today who takes the name of being a Christian puts himself (or herself) in a very responsible position. The true believer also may allow the old life to come out in him. And if this happens then God the Father will deal with us. But always because He loves us. May we have a sensitive conscience and walk and live in the new nature.


There are some who talk about the want of power in gatherings, having a standard of their own as to what power is. They forget that the Lord's presence is the power, whether it be to break down or build.


Judg 10:1-5 Two judges over Israel, in whose life God sees little worth telling us.

Judg 10:6 Israel sinks lower still. God tells us what He saw. He lists each god that they followed. He then sums it all up in the last two remarks. It was the Lord, or all these other gods together - they were all grouped as one.

Judg 10:7 God turns Israel over to two of the nations (Ammon and the Philistines) to whose gods, Israel had turned! Were these nations kind and friendly to Israel because Israel had turned to their gods?

Judg 10:8-9 That year! And for 18 years!

Judg 10:10 To whom can they turn now? Their confession reaches God's merciful ear. (Is this the confession you make when you are in trouble? The Lord hears it if you do - 1 John 1:9. He doesn't make provision for us to go on carelessly, but He is merciful when we repent and confess our sins).

Judg 10:11-14 Again these two nations are mentioned, Ammon and the Philistines; God had before actually delivered Israel from them! And they have gone back and have worshipped their gods! (We are doing exactly the same when we compromise with God's Word.).

Judg 10:15 What Israel does here is what we believers must do too. (Unless we separate ourselves from teachings which we know are contrary to God's Word, we are not going to grow in our soul).

Judg 10:16 God felt their misery more than they did.


The worn-out clothes of the Gibeonites were more powerful in what they accomplished than the mighty walls of Jericho.


Things are going from bad to worse in Israel. Abimelech (chapter 9) was the son of a concubine, but here we have the son of an harlot. God is showing us Israel's low condition by the weak instruments He uses to help them. And so it is today. God will not use a more refined instrument when Israel is in such a low state. Jephthah seems to be the leader of a rough crowd of men.

Judg 11:4-5 Ammon attacks Israel.

Judg 11:6-11 Though Jephthah had been a rough man; and although he does make a rash vow (the end of the chapter), in these verses we see the man acting very carefully. He wants to be sure that he has right on his side before he agrees to make a move! It wasn't just a case of rushing into a war against the Ammonites. Jephthah wanted to be sure that God was behind this move, and that it was for Israel's good. (It is a good thing to remember that if we do things for God in a way which is contrary to His Word, the end will not have God's blessing. First of all there must be obedience to His Word).

Judg 11:30-40 Jephthah makes a foolish promise to God. He could hardly have expected that a lamb or a goat would come out of his house. We see who came out! (We need to be very careful about promises we make to God. God does not ask for payment for the good that He does for us.) Jepthah pays for his rash vow.


"Laodicea" is... holding the truth and divine position without that truth and that position having any practical effect on my life.


Judg 12:1-7 You will remember how quietly Gideon had replied to these same people of Ephraim. But Jephthah is a rough man and he acts differently.( A believer needs to be patient, he doesn't fight back when criticized).

Judg 12:6 Even for not being able to pronounce a word properly, he slew 42,000 men. All this shows how low Israel had sunk at this time.

Judg 12:8-15 Twenty-five years pass by. Not a word about the Lord. Only comments on how selfishly they lived.


The greatest obstacle to a believer's obedience is the world.


Judg 13:1 After all God has been doing for these people, they go backward once more, and do evil in the sight of the Lord. So God allows the Philistines to overcome the Israelites. (When we believers want our own way, God sometimes has to allow troubles in our life to get us to stop and listen to Him).

Judg 13:2-25 We can learn a great deal from this story, if we pay careful attention. Notice how much more this wife understands God than the husband does. (Understanding God is the result of obedience to what we already know of His Word. To those who obey, His Word is plain and right - Prov. 8:8-9). Israel was sinking down lower and lower, forgetting God. When we see how much failure there was in Samson's life, we will understand how poor a condition before God, the people were in. Remember this as you read the next few chapters. Otherwise you will wonder why God would have such a mixture of good and bad in one man.


False humility is pride in disguise. True humility can not only take the low place, but take any place, provided the Lord is glorified.


You may wonder why God gives us this strange story, but remember that the days of the Judges were bad. Israel had sunk down to an unbelievably low level. Think also of Romans 5:20, God brings the best out of the worst and Satan does the opposite. God tells the truth, and He is not saying that what Samson did was alright. Hebrews 11:32-33 tell what God saw in the heart of Samson.

Judg 14:12-18 An interesting riddle. Verse 14 - the "eater" is the lion. But here a picture of Satan - (the enemy in great power). But God is stronger than Satan. And out of the victory over Satan by Christ ("the strong") at the cross, has come forth, the sweetness of salvation. What a contrast between Christ and Samson. Samson was strong. Christ, as a Man, was weak - 2 Cor. 13:4.


We can't hold on to a doctrine we're not living. Ps.ll5


Compare 14:15 with 15:6, and see the awful treachery of the Philistines. If you are wondering how God could put up with all this wickedness and moral corruption, remember that it is only a picture of what God sees and puts up with in the world today. (But believers who go on carelessly are warned in 1 Corinthians 11:30. Let us not think for a moment that there is going to be any peace or joy in the heart of the believer today who lives just to please himself (or herself).

Judg 15:9-20 The people of Israel are so afraid of their enemy that they blame Samson for their troubles! God gives him strength to overcome his enemies once more.

Judg 15:12 What shame on the tribe of Judah! The tribe into which King David and the Lord Jesus would be born.

Judg 15:18-20 Even in his victory, his faith is small. But see how faithful God is!


Remember what we are in ourselves, when we talk about exercising discipline.


Judg 16:1-3 Here Samson falls lower than ever. The Bible says "the way of transgressors is hard" - Prov. 13:15. Samson is receiving the wages of his sins. The guilty man falls under the spell of the "strange woman" - Prov. 5:3. This is the blinding power of sin. Samson didn't realize her vileness nor his own danger. (Careless believers lose their ability to see dangers). His secret with God for his strength was his uncut hair. So long as he kept this he was strong. But he tells his secret to a harlot, who had wrung it out of him for money.

Judg 16:21-31 Samson loses his strength, and his eyes. He is degraded into being made the sport and slave of the enemy of God and Israel. But God is about to get victory for Himself. Poor Samson turns to the Lord in his awful condition, and the Lord hears him. (But we can learn a lesson ourselves here). Without his natural eyes, he saw clearer with his "inward eyes". (And so we too need the "eyes of our understanding" Eph. 1:18, to be opened).

Samson had used his natural eyes far too often for selfish and sinful purposes (14:1, 16:1). Let us remember that we have an old nature like Samson's. In the end of his life Samson was willing to die for the name of the Lord. The Philistines were honoring their god Dagon. But the Lord could not allow this in the face of such a prayer as Samson's. Samson brought more honor to God in his death than in his life.


Pride stands in the way of discernment.


Chapters 17 to the end of the book are a supplement or appendix which tells us of dreadful events which had taken place hundreds of years before the earlier chapters. One reason, suggested by an earlier writer, is that if these dismal events had been inserted earlier, they would have interrupted the main instruction of the book of the Judges. But don't think of this section as being something that was put in by some human being. All the Bible is divine. God used many writers, but breathed into each what that person was to say.

Judg 17:1-6 No matter how bad a person may be, inside him he wants to be religious! By this, we don't mean that people want to know God, but every heart craves for an object. And Satan gives them a false god.

Judg 17:7-13 This priest is glad of a better living, and a wider place to practice his religion. This was really going into idol worship. What a shameful thing that the Lord would be given up, and they would set up a rival to God, but in God's Name!


The greater the profession of holiness and separation to God a christian makes, the more urgent upon him is God's demand for practical resemblance to Jesus our Lord.


The tribe of Dan was the first of the tribes of Israel to go into idolatry. It slowly got worse and worse, until all of Israel had turned to idols and away from the living God. Finally God swept them out of their land. Today, we may not have images to worship as idols, but anything we believers have which keeps us from closely following the Lord can be an idol.

Judg 18:1 It is interesting to notice that this first sentence is in the book four times. (17:6, here, 19:1 and 21:25). This tells us why things were so bad in this section in both the moral condition and the religious state.

Judg 18:2-end These verses tell of the dreadful setting up of idols in Israel with such an appearance of holiness. It was, in reality, completely setting God to one side and shamelessly establishing a ritual to Him.


Liberalism today is opposed to all certainty and is the source of evil.


It is hard to believe that a city of Israel could have sunk down to the extreme immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah (homosexuality). On those cities God had rained fire and brimstone for their disgraceful behaviour. We are confident you are seeing the parallel between these events and what is happening around us today. Shameful immorality being joked-about and at the same time the introduction of the new age movement which is trying to make man a god.

Judg 19:30 It is a good thing we have this verse, for at least the people said that no such thing had even happened in Israel.


A broad path means a broad conscience, not a broad heart. We have a narrow path, but it is a known path, and a straight one.


Judg 20:1-11 All Israel sends men to gather together to decide what they will do. Notice that it is not because idolatry had come in, but because the social rights were touched. It is like people today being very upset about conditions in our country, but not about people turning away from God.

Judg 20:12-48 But God has His way of waking up people, and bringing them back to Him. The people of Israel, through this awful event, are brought to a point where they are concerned that God's Name has been injured. At first their main concern was for the Levite and his concubine. God was in none of their thoughts. They made their plans to punish the men of Gibeah, but they use human plans. Then they ask God for advice! But God has a way to teach them all, that He must be asked first!

Judg 20:19-48 Even though the eleven tribes were morally correct in their position, they were wrong to act in such a hurry. Their own state was bad. Sometimes careless believers act very violently when they think a wrong has been done, but usually it is their own reputation, not the Lord's glory that concerns them. Like when one in our family gets into trouble.

Judg 20:23-48 For the first time they call Benjamin "their brother". But they are not yet properly humbled before God. Only after this has happened are they in a proper state to be used to punish Benjamin. But Israel lost 40,000 men!

Judg 20:28 This is the verse which lets us know that all this took place before the rest of the book of Judges. Phinehas was alive in the days of Moses, before they had come across the Jordan - Numbers 25:7.


Reputation is only what people think of us; character is what God knows of us. Look for the person whom godly people (not the majority) are listening to.


This last chapter tells how God touched the heart of the people of Israel about the condition of the tribe of Benjamin. This tribe is then able to continue. But remember, this whole section shows the awful condition of Israel. The last eleven words tell why. Similarly today, many believers are doing the same and not obeying God's Word. Isn't this why believers are so divided?

Remember the Book of Judges when we read the Book of Ruth.


by Norman Berry - 1911-2001
Published by Mario Persona

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