The book of Judges is the history of Israel during the
government of the Judges, who were occasional deliverers, raised
up by God to rescue Israel from their oppressors, to reform the
state of religion, and to administer justice to the people. The
state of God's people does not appear in this book so
prosperous, nor their character so religious, as might have been
expected; but there were many believers among them, and the
tabernacle service was attended to. The history exemplifies the
frequent warnings and predictions of Moses, and should have
close attention. The whole is full of important instruction.
roceedings of the tribes of Judah and Simeon. (1-8) Hebron
and other cities taken. (9-20) The proceedings of other tribes.
Verses 1-8: The Israelites were convinced that the war against the
Canaanites was to be continued; but they were in doubt as to the
manner in which it was to be carried on after the death of
Joshua. In these respects they inquired of the Lord. God
appoints service according to the strength he has given. From
those who are most able, most work is expected. Judah was first
in dignity, and must be first in duty. Judah's service will not
avail unless God give success; but God will not give the
success, unless Judah applies to the service. Judah was the most
considerable of all the tribes, and Simeon the least; yet Judah
begs Simeon's friendship, and prays for aid from him. It becomes
Israelites to help one another against Canaanites; and all
Christians, even those of different tribes, should strengthen
one another. Those who thus help one another in love, have
reason to hope that God will graciously help both. Adoni-bezek
was taken prisoner. This prince had been a severe tyrant. The
Israelites, doubtless under the Divine direction, made him
suffer what he had done to others; and his own conscience
confessed that he was justly treated as he had treated others.
Thus the righteous God sometimes, in his providence, makes the
punishment answer the sin.
Verses 9-20: The Canaanites had iron chariots; but Israel had God on
their side, whose chariots are thousands of angels, (Ps 68:17).
Yet they suffered their fears to prevail against their faith.
About Caleb we read in (Jos 15:16-19). The Kenites had settled
in the land. Israel let them fix where they pleased, being a
quiet, contented people. They that molested none, were molested
by none. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Verses 21-36: The people of Israel were very careless of their duty and
interest. Owing to slothfulness and cowardice, they would not be
at the pains to complete their conquests. It was also owing to
their covetousness: they were willing to let the Canaanites live
among them, that they might make advantage of them. They had not
the dread and detestation of idolatry they ought to have had.
The same unbelief that kept their fathers forty years out of
Canaan, kept them now out of the full possession of it. Distrust
of the power and promise of God deprived them of advantages, and
brought them into troubles. Thus many a believer who begins well
is hindered. His graces languish, his lusts revive, Satan plies
him with suitable temptations, the world recovers its hold; he
brings guilt into his conscience, anguish into his heart,
discredit on his character, and reproach on the gospel. Though
he may have sharp rebukes, and be so recovered that he does not
perish, yet he will have deeply to lament his folly through his
remaining days; and upon his dying bed to mourn over the
opportunities of glorifying God and serving the church he has
lost. We can have no fellowship with the enemies of God within
us or around us, but to our hurt; therefore our only wisdom is
to maintain unceasing war against them.