Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for the Israelites, He was with that judge and saved them from the hands of their enemies while the judge was still alive; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning under those who oppressed them and afflicted them.
I. THE MERCY OF GOD DOES NOT CONSIST IN ALTERING THE LAWS OF HIS KINGDOM, BUT IN LEADING MEN TO CONFORM MORE PERFECTLY TO THEM. The covenant is still felt as a living power even when it is ignored. The evils foretold come to pass, and in ever-increasing force. But God pursues a plan of restoration. This plan is never one of destruction or reversal. Not one jot or tittle of the law has to pass in order that the gospel may have effect. God seeks to change the hearts of his erring children, and by the punitive operation of the laws of his kingdom to make them loyal subjects. The law that curses will also, when obeyed, be found to bless. The judges were a continuous witness to righteousness and protest against sin, and by the prestige of their mighty acts and the constant influence of their lives they led men back again to God and goodness. They were the embodiments of his mercy.
II. THE VICTORIES OF SIN ARE NEVER CONSIDERED BY HIM AS IRREVERSIBLE. It was said in praise of English soldiers that they did rot know when they were beaten. How much truer is this of God and his people! The most appalling apostasy has not daunted our Heavenly Father, or driven him utterly away from his world. "Where sin abounded, there did grace much more abound." Some of the best of men and most comforting of doctrines were born in ages of spiritual darkness. He has never left himself without a witness. The course of revelation is never stopped. The succession of prophets, apostles, and martyrs is never interrupted. The servants of God in Old Testament times might be driven away or destroyed, but they, being dead, yet speak, and in the fulness of time he sends his Son; he, too, may be crucified, but nevertheless the Father will send the Comforter in his name. And so in the individual life this law will be found to operate. The darkest conscience has not been without its light.
III. ON THE WHOLE THE SPIRITUAL GAINS OVER THE CARNAL IN THE PROGRESS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD AMONGST MEN. One judge passes away and another rises. The apostasies which they have to correct may become darker and more terrible; but greater deeds are forthcoming. The testimony is more and more emphatic. The principles of God's kingdom are illustrated and honoured, and Israel gradually emancipated from its ignorance and inexperience. - M.
The Lord raised up Judges.I. These men, in some of whom the miraculous operations of the Holy Spirit were singularly manifested, were not chosen, like the suffetes of Carthage, with regal powers for a year; nor like the archons of Athens, with divided and carefully defined responsibilities; nor like the dictators of Rome, chosen to exercise uncontrolled power during extraordinary emergencies. They were not chosen by the people at all. They were sent forth by the Divine King of Israel — impelled by an inward inspiration, which was in several instances confirmed by outward miraculous signs to act in His great name. They were raised up as the exigencies of the times required; and their presence and their absence were alike calculated to keep alive in the nation a sense of dependence upon its invisible King.
II. The functions which the judges were called upon to discharge may be partly understood by referring to the position in which Moses and Joshua stood in relation to the twelve tribes. The judges were God's vicegerents. The parallel between the office of the judges and that of Moses or Joshua was not, however, complete. In so far as they were specially raised up to be God's vicegerents in Israel, it holds good; yet it was a separate and distinct form of government, and is recognised as such by St. Paul. Moses and Joshua was called, each of them, to introduce a new order of things. But during the period of the judges, nothing, in respect of God's covenant, was put upon a new footing. The history of the people is a succession of various fortunes, afflictions, and deliverances, alternating according to their public sin or their repentance: but no change occurred, permanently or deeply affecting their public condition. As often as the sins of the people brought down God's chastisements, and chastisement produced repentance, judges were raised up to repel the invader, and to restore peace and tranquillity. Hence they are frequently called, in the sacred history, "deliverers and saviours." The judges were the chief magistrates of the Hebrew commonwealth. As such, they had to deal with religious, no less than with civil, affairs; for the sharp line of separation between these which modern ingenuity has invented did not then exist. It became the duty of the judges to stir up the people to return to the Lord; and hence they needed to be themselves men of faith.
III. With regard to the effect of their administration upon the nation of the Jews, I think the period of the judges was, upon the whole, a period of national advancement. For, in the first place, the rule of the judges secured long periods of public tranquillity. Gloomy and fearful as are some of the details furnished in the Book of Judges, the Hebrew nation was nevertheless in a better state during that period, morally, politically, and spiritually, than it became afterwards during the reigns of the later kings. Not only the intervals of repose, but also the periods of warfare, must be taken into account in estimating the benefits of their rule. In general, they exerted themselves to prevent idolatry, dissuading the people from their besetting sin; but there were times when the people "would not hearken unto their judges"; and further, "when the judge was dead," they took advantage of the interregnum which sometimes occurred, and "returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers." These apostasies were followed by chastisements. The Lord forsook them; He permitted their enemies to oppress and torment them; "the east wind from the wilderness" dried up the fountain of their strength, until, at the point to die, they bethought themselves of His holy name. Miserable and forsaken, their name might have been blotted out for ever but for the "saviours" — figures of a greater Saviour — whom their God raised up to deliver them. Nor was success denied to these men in that which they undertook. The kings of Mesopotamia, of Moab, and of Canaan, the fierce mountaineers of Ammon: the innumerable hordes of the Bedouin; the lordly and persistent Philistines, were in turn humbled and subdued by these men who, through faith, "quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the ninnies of the aliens."
(L. H. Wiseman, M. A.).
PeopleIsraelites, Joshua, Nun
PlacesBochim, Egypt, Gaash, Gilgal, Timnath-heres
TopicsAfflicted, Burdened, Compassion, Cries, Cruel, Crushed, Delivered, Enemies, Grief, Grieved, Groaned, Groaning, Groanings, Hands, Haters, Judge, Judges, Moved, Oppressed, Oppressors, Pity, Presence, Raised, Reason, Repented, Repenteth, Saved, Saviour, Thrusting, Troubled, Vexed, Whenever
Outline1. An angel rebukes the people at Bochim
6. The wickedness of the new generation after Joshua
14. God's anger and pity toward them
20. The Canaanites left to prove Israel
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJudges 2:18
1320 God, as Saviour
8728 enemies, of Israel and Judah
LibraryA Summary of Israel's Faithlessness and God's Patience
'And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3. Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Israel's Obstinacy and God's Patience
Whether the Female Sex is an Impediment to Receiving Orders?
The Unmistakable Honesty of the Writers of the Bible Attests to Its Heavenly Origin
The Death of Abraham
Formation and History of the Hebrew Canon.
The Doctrine of Angels.
A Case of Conscience Resolved
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