Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan;Jdg 3:1-2
Wherever temptation is, there is God also.... Nothing is at random, as if temptation were hurrying here and there like bullets in the air of a battlefield.
—F. W. Faber.
'The conduct of the negotiations,' between the Christian and Moslem powers in Palestine, 'fell to the Templars, and between them and the Saracens there grew up some kind of acquaintance. Having their home in the East they got to know the Eastern character. It was alleged afterwards that in this way their faith became corrupted.'
The Message of the Book of Judges
The book of Judges is a book of deliverance, a deliverance from backsliding. It teaches us:—
I. The danger of a faith which stands in the wisdom of man rather than in the power of God. Israel always relied too much on her leaders. The nation of Israel all along was like a nation of children—they had to be kept in the right path by authority. What was then felt in Israel is a very grievous fault among ourselves. Christian people in our churches look far too much to their spiritual teachers, and far too little to God.
II. No past experience of blessing removes the liability to sin, or dispenses with the need of watchfulness against temptation. Israel had trusted God and found Him true. She had seen His power to save, and she was living in the Promised Land; yet that did not remove her liability to sin. No matter how wonderfully God deals with our souls, no matter how close the fellowship that He grants us, so long as we are in the flesh we are beset by temptation, and temptation is always dangerous because of our liability to give heed to it.
III. No position of honour or favour entitles one to sin with impunity. Israel thought that because she was the people of Jehovah He was bound to take care of her. And she had to be taught that Jehovah's favour was conditional on her obedience. She had to learn that simply because she was the people of God, her sin would be punished more severely than the sin of others. No man can sin with impunity. The clearer the knowledge, the intenser the zeal, the more awful is the fall of him who, presuming on these things, dares to tamper with sin.
IV. For recovery from backsliding, however terrible, there is provision made in the mercy of God. The book of Judges shows not only that none of the Lord's children may presume, but also that none of them might despair, it shows how God made provision to ensure their being kept faithful to Him. The Lord raised them up by judges by whom they were delivered from the hand of their enemies, and brought back to serve the Lord. For us, if we have backslidden there is the Saviour who is able to save to the uttermost because He ever liveth to make intercession for us.
—G. H. C. Macgregor, Messages of the Old Testament, p. 87.
A man that is at once eminent in place and goodness, is like a stake in a hedge; pull that up, and all the rest are but loose and rotten sticks easily removed; or like the pillars of a vaulted roof which either supports or ruins the building.
'Lucretius, like Naevius a century and a half before,' says Mr. J. W. Mackail, 'might have left the proud and pathetic lines on his tomb that, after he was dead, men forgot to speak Latin in Rome.'
References.—III. 15, 16.—Herbert Windross, The Life Victorious, p. 83. III. 16.—S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. i. p. 270.
I cannot but wonder at the devout reverence of this heathen prince: he sat in his chair of state; the unwieldiness of his fat body was such, that he could not rise with readiness and ease: yet no sooner doth he hear news of a message from God, but he rises up from his throne, and reverently attends the tenor thereof. Though he had no superior to control him, yet he cannot abide to be unmannerly in the business of God.
This man was an idolater, a tyrant: yet what outward respect doth he give to the true God? External ceremonies of piety, and compliments of devotion, may well be found with falsehood in religion. They are a good shadow of truth when it is; but when it is not, they are the very body of hypocrisy. He that had risen up in arms against God's people, and the true worship of God, now rises up in reverence to His name. God would have liked well to have had less of his courtesy, more of his obedience.
Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;
Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath.
And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.
And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:
And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.
Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years.
And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother.
And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.
And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.
And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.
So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.
But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.
But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.
And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man.
And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.
But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.
And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.
And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:
And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.
Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.
When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber.
And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth.
And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath.
And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.
And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.
And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.
So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.
And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.