Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15

King James AV1611


The Book of Judges

 The Book of Judges was taught by Dr. James Modlish





Judges picks up the story of Israel after the death of Joshua (Jud. 1:1), just as Joshua continues the story after the death of Moses (Josh. 1:1). This is a book of defeat and disgrace; the key verse is (17:6) - "Every man did that which was right in his own eyes." The Lord was no longer "King in Israel"; the tribes were divided; the people were mixing with the heathen nations; and it was necessary for God to chasten His people. We have a summary of the entire book in (2:10-19) - blessing, disobedience, chastening, repentance, deliverance. Judges is the book of incomplete victory; it is a book of failure on the part of God's people to trust His Word and claim His power.


You will recall the three divisions of Joshua: crossing the river, conquering the enemy, and claiming the inheritance. Joshua records how they crossed the river and began to conquer the enemy, but the book ends with "much land yet to be possessed" (Josh 13:1 and 23:1-11). "Crossing the river" signifies separation from sin and death to self; it means entering into our spiritual inheritance by faith (Eph. 1:3). But after we have taken this step of faith, it is easy to faint, or to compromise with the enemy. Israel entered into her land, but she failed to possess the total inheritance. She first tolerated the enemy, then took tribute (taxes) from the enemy, then mixed with the enemy, and finally surrendered to the enemy! It was only through God's deliverers (the judges) that they found victory. How easy it is for Christians to "settle down with sin" and miss the blessings of complete dedication and complete victory.


The Promised Land was filled with many nations and many "petty kings" who ruled over smaller territories. Joshua had led the nation collectively in great victories over the major enemies; the way had now been paved for each tribe to go in by faith and claim the allotted inheritance. Whereas Joshua is a record of united efforts, Judges records a divided nation no longer devoted to the Lord, forgetful of the covenant that they made at Sinai.


Thirteen different judges are names in this book, raised up by God to defeat a particular enemy and give the people rest. These judges were not national leaders; rather, they were local leaders who delivered the people from various oppressors. It is possible that some of the period of oppression and rest overlap. Not all of the tribes participated in each battle, and often there was tribal rivalry. That God could call these "ordinary people" (one of whom was a woman) and use them so mightily is another evidence of His grace and power (1 Cor. 1:26-31). The Spirit of God came upon these leaders for a particular work (6:34; 11:29; 13:25), though often their own personal lives were not exemplary in every detail (Samson, for example). The several hundred years of rule under the judges prepared Israel for their request for a king (1 Sam. 8).


God permitted the heathen nations to be left in the land for several reasons:

[1]. To punish Israel (2:3); (20-21)

[2]. To prove Israel, (2:22 and 3:4)

[3]. To provide Israel with experience in warfare, (3:2)

[4]. To prevent the land from becoming a wilderness, (Deut. 7:20-24). If Israel wanted to live with this "second-class" situation, God would give them their desire. He then used these nations for His own purposes. The Jews could have enjoyed total victory; instead, they settled for a compromise. How like many Christians (and many churches) today.

Chapters (3-16) describe the "up-and-down" experience of many of God's people. Alas, the nation did not yield to God and obey Him; they looked instead to the human helpers He sent them. Too many Christians have their "'ups and downs" and run to the pastor or Bible School teacher for help instead of getting alone with God Himself to permit Him to examine their hearts and give them victory.



Key verse - 17:6 (also 21:25)

I. APATHY - (1-2)

[1]. Early victories - (1:1-26)

[2]. Repeated defeats - (1:27-36)

[3]. Divine rebuke - (2:1-5)

[4]. Serving other gods - (2:6-23) (summary of the entire book)


II. APOSTASY - (3-16)

[1]. Othniel - (3:1-11) Oppressed by Mesopotamia for 8 years

[2]. Ehud and Shamgar - (3:12-31) Oppressed by Moab for 18 years

[3]. Deborah and Barak - (4-5) Oppressed by Canaanites for 20 years

[4]. Gideon - (6-8) Oppressed by Midian for 7 years

[5]. Tola and Jair - (9:1-10:5) Oppressed by Shechem (no definite time)

[6]. Jephthah - (10:6-12:15) Oppressed by Ammonites for 18 yrs.

[7]. Samson - (13-16) Oppressed by Philistines for 40 years


III. ANARCHY- (17-21)

[1]. IDOLATRY - (17-18)

[2]. Immorality - (19)

[3]. Internal war - (20-21)

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