But when the Israelites cried out to the LORD, He raised up Othniel son of Caleb's younger brother Kenaz as a deliverer to save them.
In modern times there would seem to be scarcely any understanding of the fact that no man can do real service as a political leader unless he is a fearer of God, one who loves righteousness more than country, and serves the Eternal before any constituency. Sometimes a nation low enough in morality has been so far awake to its need and danger as to give the helm, at least for a time, to a servant of truth and righteousness and to follow where he leads. But more commonly is it the case that political leaders are chosen anywhere rather than from the ranks of the spiritually earnest. It is oratorical dash now, and now the cleverness of the intriguer, or the power of rank and wealth, that catches popular favour and exalts a man in the State. Members of parliament, cabinet ministers, high officials need have no devoutness, no spiritual seriousness or insight. A nation generally seeks no such character in its legislators, and is often content with less than decent morality. Is it then any wonder that politics are arid and governments a series of errors? We need men who have the true idea of liberty and will set nations nominally Christian on the way of fulfilling their mission to the world. When the people want a spiritual leader he will appear; when they are ready to follow one of high and pure temper he will arise and show the way. But the plain truth is that our chiefs in the State, in society and business must be the men who represent the general opinion, the general aim. While we are in the main a worldly people, the best guides, those of spiritual mind, will never be allowed to carry their plans. And so we come back to the main lesson of the whole history, that only as each citizen is thoughtful of God and of duty, redeemed from selfishness and the world, can there be a true commonwealth, honourable government, beneficent civilisation.
It is a curious fact in the history of Israel that it is never until they have acknowledged God as the source of salvation that they achieve any permanent success. It is as if this people were to learn that only by supernatural means is it ever to fulfil its destiny.
I. HE INSPIRES TRUE HEROISM. Of Othniel we have already heard; he stands as a representative of early Israelitish chivalry. But on the occasion on which he distinguished himself formerly, the inspiration was hardly so lofty as to mark him out as especially the servant of God. He is, however, on the threshold of the great life of self-denial and generous self-sacrifice which characterised the judge of Israel. He is a vessel chosen of God for better service. Of the particular influences which marked him out for the high office to which he was called we are not informed. All that we know is, that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. That he was well qualified otherwise for warlike exploits we know; but the merely human traits of character which he has displayed are nothing without this distinctive inspiration. God finds the man for the hour.
II. THE MORAL AUTHORITY IS DIVINELY CREATED. Israel gravitates towards Othniel as its moral centre. By a kind of moral necessity he becomes its judge, and there is no one to dispute his ascendancy. The prestige which he gains in his magistracy is not injured by military failures. We are to look upon all this as proof that God was with him. preserving and increasing his reputation, and developing the powers which he possessed. When it is said (Judges 2:18), "And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge," we are invited to behold no series of merely human successes, but that which is directly due to his presence and help. And so with all Whom he inspires for special service; he will make their moral influence his care, sustain their strength, and secure uninterrupted success if they put their trust in him. - M. Natural advantages and endowments perfected and crowned by consecration.
I. THE BEST CHANNEL FOR OTHNIEL'S ABILITIES WAS THAT INDICATED BY THE DIVINE CALL.
II. IN OBEDIENCE OF GOD'S SPIRIT HE SECURED THE MOST COMMANDING INFLUENCE.
III. As SERVANT OF JEHOVAH HE ATTAINED ENDURING RENOWN. - M.
Othniel the son of Kenaz... and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him.
It is the personal soul that is the basis of all action. Your machinery is soulless, and the true driver, after all, is the man with his hand on the throttle. You invent, and you multiply motions, and actions, and skilled operations; but you never can dispense with the brain and mind and heart of the controlling man. In the same way, all movements on this earth need to head up into personal souls. God sets a man in charge of the machinery, and as the stars and suns revolve in their cycles, as the events of the human race happen and are run off the reel, they get their explanation only from the personal souls that have been in the movements. When the time of the Reformation was at hand, Luther
shakes himself in yonder cell and comes forth. When the thick mists of Popish darkness were to be rolled away from Scotland, John Knox
appeared. It is the same all down the ages: men, personal souls, are called forth to lead events to their God-destination and God-purpose. Events need men. So with God! When the time came, God found the Person who would undertake this great purpose of redeeming love, who would atone for man, and suffer on the Cross.
Othniel, the first of the judges, seems one of the best. He is not a man of mere rude strength and dashing enterprise; nor is he one who runs the risk of sudden elevation of power, which few can stand. A person of acknowledged honour and sagacity, he sees the problem of the time and does his best to solve it. He is almost unique in this, that he appears without offence, without shame. And his judgeship is honourable to Israel. It points to a higher level of thought and greater seriousness among the tribes than in the century when Jephthah and Samson were the acknowledged heroes. The nation had not lost its reverence for the great names and hopes of the Exodus when it obeyed Othniel and followed him to battle.
()You may be as unlike a warrior, as unlike one of the Lord Jesus Christ's Ironsides as unlike can be, yet you have a great deal to do with the making and shaping and sending of them. Can you feel the woes of Israel? Can you shed tears over her? Have you a large, sympathetic heart? And, summing it all up in one word, can you cry? can you pray? "When the children of Israel cried unto the Lord," the Lord sent this mighty Othniel, upon whom the Spirit of the Lord came Ah! I think we are weak there. We would have more great preachers, we would have more revival movements, in the large meaning of the word revival — not only the ingathering of sinners, but the up-building and brightening of saints — if we had more people who sigh and cry for the sad condition. of God's inheritance. "Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence." Tossing often on a bed of sickness, or weakness, or pain, do you sigh and cry? Then will God be getting ready His Othniels, and Ehuds, and Shamgars.
()This clearly teaches us that all gifts of the Spirit, and all excellent effects thereof, they are none of ours — they are the Lord's; He giveth and distributeth them at His pleasure, as we see here that it was the Spirit of the Lord that came upon Othniel, whereby he brought to pass the great things that he did. And whatsoever is of any note in man for price and excellency it is all of God, and cometh from His mere bounty. Alas! there is no bird stripped of her feathers more bare and naked than man in himself is void of goodness; for what hath he that he hath not received? Insomuch as all that he hath to glory of is his sin — a most holy and approved truth, which giveth God His due, and layeth out man in his colours, that he is nothing else, if he rob not God of His honour, and prank not up himself in his gifts, he is nothing else but naked, poor, and a mirror of misery:
()Judgment and then deliverance; judgment of the mistakes and sins men have committed, thereby bringing themselves into trouble; conviction of sin and righteousness; thereafter guidance and help that their feet may be set on a rock and their goings established — this is the right sequence. That God should help the proud, the self-sufficient out of their troubles in order that they may go on in pride and vain glory, or that He should save the vicious from the consequences of their vice and leave them to persist in their iniquity, would be no Divine work. The new mind and the right spirit must be put in men, they must bear their condemnation, lay it to heart and repent, there must be a revival of holy purpose and aspiration first. Then the oppressors will be driven from the land, the weight of trouble lifted from the soul.
()This is a book of heroes, of strong men, and strong women too, who, in a time of storm and stress, saved their own souls and the souls of those around them also. It will brace you up, invigorate, and inspire you. It is said of Pitt that he breathed his own lofty spirit into his country. "No man," said a soldier of the time, "ever entered Mr. Pitt's room who did not feel himself a braver man when he came out than when he went in." And no man can read this book sympathetically without being moved to emulation of the mighty souls that move across its pages. It tells us very briefly, but suggestively, the story of twelve people who helped to make Israel, and of these the first, and in some respects the best also, is Othniel, the son of Kenaz. Many of these "saviours," as they are called, were far from being perfect characters. But in Othniel's life, as we have it, there is no hint of anything that offends either the taste or the conscience. His name means God's Lion; and throughout he seems to have been a brave, pure, noble man. And yet the age in which he lived was a very corrupt one. His surroundings were very unfavourable to the growth of character. There was no king or leader in Israel — every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Idolatry and licentiousness abounded. And the task set before you, young men and women, is not so very unlike that which faced Othniel. You must first save yourselves — you must, by God's help, save your own souls. You must also help God to save the world. This is your task and your privilege — both to be saved and to be saviours. But how did Othniel become a hero and a saviour of his people?
I. "Caleb said 'He that smiteth Kiriath-sepher and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.' And Othniel the son of Kenaz took it." That is the first fact given us from Othniel's life, and that is all that is said about it — Othniel took it — took the stronghold of the mighty sons of Anak — the oracle city of idolatry before which even Caleb quailed. Othniel took it. But many things go to the making of such a deed as that.
1. First, of course, comes courage. It was an undertaking full of desperate difficulties. What was needed was not so much physical as moral courage. The courage to follow is common enough; it is the courage to lead that is rare. Othniel had this soul-quality. He led the way and took the city. Well, if you young people are bent upon saving yourselves from the evil that is in the world, you too must have and must exercise this soul-courage. It often needs more courage to handle the yard-wand than the sword — to be a business-man than to be a soldier. Daily life, all hum-drum as it looks, has its Marathons, its Waterloos, and its Minas; its Six Hundreds that ride into the jaws of death.
2. But courage, what is it? How does any one get courage? Well, if we take another look at Othniel we shall see that the lion in him was not born on the day Debir was taken. It was already strong, matured, full grown. Born long before this in the desert, it had been nourished by daily deeds of unrewarded valour. Acts such as this take years to grow. All his life he had been unconsciously preparing for this. Yes, that is the story of all courage. God gives it to us as He gives all things in seed form. Every heart is full of germs — courage-germs among them. If we cultivate any germ it grows and bears fruit; if we neglect it it dies. If you want courage you must grow it from a seed — that is you must practise the little you have.
3. Once more: This deed of Othniel's lays bare to us the central secret of all true power — faith. You are familiar with great facts of which Othniel never even dreamt. But your salvation does not depend on how many beliefs you carry about with you, but on how much do you believe any of them. Any truth becomes a saving truth to the soul that trusts it and through it trusts God. Thus this little sentence, unpromising as it looks, gives us three things that go to the making of a hero: courage, habit, faith, and the greatest of these is faith.
II. "And he (Caleb) gave him Achsah his daughter to wife: and it came to pass when she came unto him that she moved him to ask of her father a field." This, the second of the three facts of Othniel's history, introduces us into a very different set of circumstances, a different climate of life in fact.
1. Debir is taken; Caleb has kept his word; the bride is coming to her new home. Applause is not much for a young pair to live on; so, amid the excitement and the joy, this fair daughter of the wilderness kept her eyes open and her wits about her. She noted the situation in which her new home lay. It was south land. It had no water. She moved her husband to ask for the field that had the springs of water. But Othniel is better at fighting than asking. Her humour, her sense, and her exquisite tact carried all before them. Caleb gave her "the upper springs and the nether springs."
2. But what has this to do with the making of a hero? Much in every way. Othniel was brave enough but he had a great deal to learn. He had taken Debir with his sword, but here at his own door he is confronted with a situation in which his sword is useless. Evidently he must learn the use of other weapons. He must master the art of gracious speech. He must acquire tact. There are knots which it avails not to cut, they must be patiently untied by skilful fingers. He is to help in making a people who shall never become formidable as a military power — never produce an Alexander or a Caesar — who shall ultimately lose all their swords, lose every inch of their territory and every stone of their citadels, and yet shall overcome their enemies through sheer force of character. That he may do this God sent him to the home-school and the farm-school to learn those homely virtues of common sense, patience, and tact, without which strength and courage were of little avail.
3. Well, you too, young people, must not despise these.
III. "The children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord... the children of Israel served Cashan-rishathaim eight years... the children of Israel cried unto the Lord." Many years — forty, perhaps, or even more — have passed since Othniel and Achsah took possession of their new home, and we are confronted with a new and painful situation. The Lord's people "forgat the Lord and served the Baalim" — that was their sin! "They served Cushan, King of Mesopotamia" — that was their punishment Egypt and Pharaoh were not so far away as they thought. Egypt, the land of bondage, is wherever sin is, and Pharaoh follows iniquity as the night the day. "And the Lord raised up a saviour... even Othniel, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him." He raised him to this glorious height of manhood by breathing into him His own breath of love and life. There were many reasons why Othniel should do nothing. The chief, perhaps, was that apparently he could do nothing. Perhaps Achsah was another — and the farm a third. Yes, depend upon it there were many voices both within and without that bade Othniel beware of meddling with things beyond his power. But the still small voice called. He put himself, all that he was, all that he had, upon the altar, "and he judged Israel." He called the erring people back to truth and duty. Led by God's spirit he began there, with the people's own sin first. Then he "went out to war... and his hand prevailed against Cushan, and the land had rest forty years." Thus Othniel, even Othniel, became a saviour of his people, and the lion-like man of war, under the influence of God's spirit, was changed into a living prophecy of the Lamb of God, the Saviour of the world. "And Othniel, the son of Kenaz, died," having in a rude, hard age, nobly sustained the character of the Happy Warrior. The phase "Othniel — a saviour," is at once his epitaph and his eulogy. Well, even so are noble lives still made. Faith, patience, wisdom, and the breath of God are the great life-building powers. Saviourhood is the end of all the ways of God in a soul. He makes some men strong in order that they may help the weak. He gives wisdom to some that they may thereby guide the foolish. He makes men holy in order that they may turn the unholy from the error of their way. Now, young people, will you be made strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might? Around you, in numbers that Othniel never dreamed of, are men that "serve the Baalim and serve Cushan," that sin, and suffer for their sin in mind, body, and estate. Will you help to save these?
PeopleAmalek, Amalekites, Ammonites, Amorites, Anath, Aram, Canaanites, Chushanrishathaim, Chushan-rishathaim, Eglon, Ehud, Gera, Hittites, Hivite, Hivites, Israelites, Jebusites, Kenaz, Moabites, Othniel, Perizzites, Shamgar, Sidonians, Zidonians
PlacesCanaan, Gilgal, Jordan River, Lebanon, Lebo-hamath, Mesopotamia, Moab, Mount Baal-hermon, Seirah
TopicsBrother, Caleb's, Cried, Cry, Deliver, Delivered, Deliverer, Kenaz, Othniel, Oth'ni-el, Prayer, Raised, Raiseth, Saved, Saveth, Savior, Saviour, Sons, Younger
Outline1. The nations which were left to prove Israel
5. By communion with them they commit idolatry
8. Othniel delivered them from Chushan-Rishathaim
12. Ehud from Eglon
31. and Shamgar from the Philistines
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJudges 3:9
5360 justice, God
8610 prayer, asking God
8614 prayer, answers
LibraryUse what You Have
Few people really are and do their best. Nature has blessed a few with great talents and abilities. These persons often become proud, self-centered, and feel themselves to be superior, and for that reason many times they fail to make the proper use of their abilities. How often are they used in a bad or foolish way, so that what might be a blessing to the world fails to be such! There are many others who realize they do not possess these natural gifts. They look upon those who have them, and envy …
Charles Wesley Naylor—Heart Talks
Gifts and Talents.
"And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him."--Judges iii. 10. We now consider the Holy Spirit's work in bestowing gifts, talents, and abilities upon artisans and professional men. Scripture declares that the special animation and qualification of persons for work assigned to them by God proceed from the Holy Spirit. The construction of the tabernacle required capable workmen, skilful carpenters, goldsmiths, and silversmiths, and masters in the arts of weaving and embroidering. Who will furnish Moses …
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit
Whether Baptism Should Take Away the Penalties of Sin that Belong to this Life?
Objection 1: It seems that Baptism should take away the penalties of sin that belong to this life. For as the Apostle says (Rom. 5:15), the gift of Christ is farther-reaching than the sin of Adam. But through Adam's sin, as the Apostle says (Rom. 5:12), "death entered into this world," and, consequently, all the other penalties of the present life. Much more, therefore, should man be freed from the penalties of the present life, by the gift of Christ which is received in Baptism. Objection 2: Further, …
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica
"This Then is the Message which we have Heard of Him, and Declare unto You, that God is Light,"
1 John i. 5.--"This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light," &c. The great design of the gospel is to make up the breach of man's joy, and open up the way to the fulness of it, and therefore it is the good news and glad tidings of great joy, the only best message that ever came to the world. Now it shows unto us the channel that this river of gladness and joy runs into, it discovers what is the way of the conveyance of it to the soul, and what are …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
Whether the Old Law Enjoined Fitting Precepts Concerning Rulers?
Objection 1: It would seem that the Old Law made unfitting precepts concerning rulers. Because, as the Philosopher says (Polit. iii, 4), "the ordering of the people depends mostly on the chief ruler." But the Law contains no precept relating to the institution of the chief ruler; and yet we find therein prescriptions concerning the inferior rulers: firstly (Ex. 18:21): "Provide out of all the people wise [Vulg.: 'able'] men," etc.; again (Num. 11:16): "Gather unto Me seventy men of the ancients of …
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica
The Country of Jericho, and the Situation of the City.
Here we will borrow Josephus' pencil, "Jericho is seated in a plain, yet a certain barren mountain hangs over it, narrow, indeed, but long; for it runs out northward to the country of Scythopolis,--and southward, to the country of Sodom, and the utmost coast of the Asphaltites." Of this mountain mention is made, Joshua 2:22, where the two spies, sent by Joshua, and received by Rahab, are said to "conceal themselves." "Opposite against this, lies a mountain on the other side Jordan, beginning from …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
The Prophecy of Obadiah.
We need not enter into details regarding the question as to the time when the prophet wrote. By a thorough argumentation, Caspari has proved, that he occupies his right position in the Canon, and hence belongs to the earliest age of written prophecy, i.e., to the time of Jeroboam II. and Uzziah. As bearing conclusively against those who would assign to him a far later date, viz., the time of the exile, there is not only the indirect testimony borne by the place which this prophecy occupies in …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
The Doctrine of Angels.
I. THEIR EXISTENCE. 1. THE TEACHING OF JESUS. 2. THE TEACHING OF THE APOSTLES. II. THEIR NATURE. 1. CREATED BEINGS. 2. SPIRITUAL BEINGS. 3. GREAT POWER AND MIGHT. 4. VARIOUS GRADES. 5. THE NUMBER OF ANGELS. III. THE FALL OF ANGELS. 1. TIME AND CAUSE. 2. THE WORK OF FALLEN ANGELS. 3. THE JUDGMENT OF FALLEN ANGELS. IV. THE WORK OF ANGELS. 1. THEIR HEAVENLY MINISTRY. 2. THEIR EARTHLY MINISTRY. a) In Relation to the Believer. b) In Relation to Christ's Second Coming. THE DOCTRINE OF ANGELS. We are not …
Rev. William Evans—The Great Doctrines of the Bible
For the understanding of the early history and religion of Israel, the book of Judges, which covers the period from the death of Joshua to the beginning of the struggle with the Philistines, is of inestimable importance; and it is very fortunate that the elements contributed by the later editors are so easily separated from the ancient stories whose moral they seek to point. That moral is most elaborately stated in ii. 6-iii. 6, which is a sort of programme or preface to iii. 7-xvi. 31, which constitutes …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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