Come Follow Me Insights – Judges: Samson – powered by Happy Scribe
And I’m Tyler.
And I’m Avram Shannon. I’m a guest today.
This is the Book of Mormon Central’s Come Follow Me insights.
Today, the Book of Judges, and we have our friend Avram with us.
This is actually a really fascinating and important book looked that sometimes gets overlooked and sometimes people get a little confused about what’s going on. There’s some really important things that help us to understand God’s plan and the role of Kings and leadership in helping point people to God.
Quite frankly, when you just read the Book of Judges start to finish, you can walk away with a pretty sour taste in your mouth. There’s some really violent, terrible things that are going on here. And Aubran, you pointed out that one of the purposes for this book is to show the people of Israel the need for something.
Yes. The whole idea behind Judges explicitly is to illustrate why Israel needs a King. That’s it in the text itself. In those days, there was no King in Israel. Every man did that, which was right in his own eyes.
Can you see some corollary to our day, that idea of when you lack leadership, then people end up just doing whatever is right in their own eyes, and they do it feeling justified in what they’re doing. And it creates a pretty chaotic society.
Chaotic is a really good word to describe what we see in the Book of Judges. The whole thing is structured in this way to actually illustrate the point that the author and editor of Judges once is that without this kind of proper divine authority, things are just going to get crazy.
And what’s fascinating about the scriptures is that this is a big question that seems to dominate a lot of the biblical narrative. Who is going to be the King? How will people respond? This is a really big question. Even in the Book of Mormon in the very beginning, who’s going to be the leader? Right. Nephi and his brothers seem to have better conflict. Who’s going to be the King? And ultimately the main question is who is the King? And will people be willing to put themselves into alignment to the real King? Because the earthly King is simply supposed to be God’s representative? Who is the real King? So we’ll see this going on here, how the people struggle to find and follow the real King, not just here in Judges, but even throughout the Old Testament, even into the Book of Mormon, which it’s fascinating.
If you look at the Book of Mormon pattern, we start with a whole line of Kings among the Nephites and the Lehmanites. You get to Mosaiah 29 with King Mosaic, and he’s clearly harkening back to the Old Testament when he’s saying we need to make an adjustment in our form of government.
And I think it’s intriguing there because where it’s a little bit different from our Book of Judges here in the Bible is it is a form of government. Judges is more like. I mean, they’re basically tribal chieftains working through these things. So again, Mosaic is very clearly sort of building on working through with this biblical example. But where we have sort of almost called Kazakh leadership. And the Judges in the Book of Judges, Mosiah’s Judges are very institutional. Again, they’re a form of government as opposed to, again, sort of charismatic military leader, divinely controlled anarchy.
In some ways, perhaps this would be a good place for us to just diagram on the board the pattern most of you are familiar with it from when we cover the Book of Mormon, for instance, the Book of Heloman. And third Nephi, you’ve heard about the pride cycle. Well, it comes full circle in the Book of Judges repeatedly. Right. You have at the top this peace and prosperity where everything’s great, you’re being blessed, it’s wonderful. But then you start getting into some pride which leads to people turning away from God. So they turn towards the idols of their surrounding people. Auburn, what could you say about that? Because the promised Land or the Holy Land or Israel, as we would call it today, it’s not as if it’s just one monolithic group of people all worshipping the same deities.
Right. Again, it’s called manifest Canaan, and it’s again full of Canaanites, which is sort of a generic term for people who live in Lanca Canaan. We don’t know a lot about the gods they worship. We know a little bit. Of course, the most famous and he shows up here in Judges is Baal. Baal is a word that means Lord, master, I guess possessor. You could translate it that way. It’s actually a title for a God called some places he’s seen in the Bible, even Hadad He’s, the ancient storm God, the ancient rain God. And of course, this is part in the ancient context, peace and prosperity means again, for you and I, we don’t live in a subsistent agricultural world. We’re kind of disconnected. But when the entire livelihood is based on rain, suddenly a God who brings rain is really important, the same way you have goddesses who are fertility goddesses. When your entire life is based on having children, suddenly that your children and your animals ability to have offspring becomes really important. And so these are the kinds of things we see the Israelites moving towards.
So what happens in this phase is they’re turning away from their Covenant connection with God and they’re turning to these idol worship practices of the various groups of Canaanites that they didn’t completely wipe out of the land. Probably not nearly as much as the Book of Joshua would lead us to believe.
Yeah, I would probably say if you’re struck reconstructing it. If you read Joshua, everything seems cut and dried, finished. We got a great we’re in the land, everything’s divided. You start in Judges, especially Judges too. They’re all still there. Judges probably presents a closer picture to how the conquest happened in Joshua. Joshua was a very much what’s a good word for it, the ideological very optimistic version of how the conquest went.
There you go. So this leads to greater and greater levels of wickedness, which then the Lord says, I’ll be your God, you’ll be my people. And they say, we don’t want to be your people. We want to go and be the people of all these gods of the Canaanites. Well, they lose all of that protection, all of that blessing, all of that covenantal guidance from God. So what this leads to is God allows these people, these other nations among whom they live, to come in and destroy them. So they experience this destruction, which leaves them in this sorrow, this lamentation, this despair. They’re at the bottom of the cycle, which then they begin to feel bad about it. They get humble. So I’ll write it this way. So they set some humility in place. They turn to the Lord, they begin to more fully repent. What does he do? God raises up a judge to deliver the people. So the judge leads the people in battle. They push back their enemy, and there’s victory and peace is restored. Now, basically, we could almost stop the lesson right here and say, take that pattern and repeat it twelve times.
And that’s the Book of Judges.
It’s certainly again, the message there. And then the people. And eventually God says, let’s cut this out and let’s try it with a King. But actually, we see, of course, with Kings, we get basically the exact same pattern. It doesn’t help the way that perhaps the people wanted it to, but it is intriguing that again, when we get to first Samuel, the people are going to say, we want a King to fight for us. We don’t have to have this problem anymore. They’re trying to almost find a way around this by saying, if we had a King to fight our problems, we wouldn’t need to be stuck in this cycle, which I think is intriguing in terms of how they try and solve it. But the outsolving it by saying, let’s talk to God and do what he says. Which is the actual solution under the problem.
Absolutely. Now, one other overlay item, and then we’re going to jump into the actual scripture text is let’s give you a 30,000 foot overview of the actual judges themselves. You can number these differently if you’d like, but they’re basically twelve individuals who are listed in a time period that goes from roughly 13. And these are estimates.
Very rough estimates.
They’re very rough. So don’t carve them in stone. But it’s from basically 1350 down to about what would you say 1015 ish.
Yeah, that sounds about right.
In that neighborhood.
In that neighborhood, absolutely.
So in that ballpark, you have twelve people, you have oath. Neil is the first one. Then Ehud and Ehud and Egglon story. We’re not going to go into great depth or into great detail with here. Pretty cool, though. Yes. Then we have Shamgar and Deborah. She’s one of the great ones.
We will talk about her.
She’s a shining spot in this fairly dark period and following Deborah or during very time.
One thing about as we write these things down is that these do not necessarily need to be all sequential. It’s very clear if you read judges that very few judges judged all of Israel as a whole, as all twelve tribes. The judges seem to have been more regional in their usage. And so we get some evidence that they could have been concurrent for many.
Of these judges, which is, again, a difference between the Old Testament judges and the Book of Mormon judges. Where Alma the Younger as the first chief judge, he is the judge over all the people, whereas I’m not sure that any of these would have been considered the judge over all of the United Israel.
We don’t see a chief judge, Tyler figure in our biblical Book of Judges. Actually, the United figure in this period who ordered all Israel would have been the Tabernacle and then the priest at the Tabernacle. So that would have been the one always going to recognize, not as a leader so much as sort of the religious center of ancient Israel.
So you’ll notice we ended with Shamgar and Deborah and then Gideon Tola Jair, Jeffa, Ibrahim, Elam Abdon, and Samson. Now Samson is probably of the list. Gideon, Samson and Deborah are probably your most famous three because their story gets told the most widely with good reason.
They’re pretty good stories.
They are pretty good stories. Unfortunately, Samson ends up dying of a fairly common foot condition that exists today, fallen arches, because you’re all weak guys. Yes. The Church is still true in spite of everything you might hear. So we’re going to take just a sampling. We are not going to try to cover all of these judges stories. In fact, if you tried to cover them all, some of them, there’s not a lot to say.
They judged Israel. This person, they basically describe this and say, totally judged Israel. He won. And then you start over again. It’s kind of for a lot of these smaller judges stories.
Okay. So let’s jump in. You’re ready for this?
So turn to chapter two. And if you pick it up in verse six. So here is the passing of the baton from Joshua to this period of judges. Martin in verse six. And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land. And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua. So looking at the cycle here, where are they? They’re humble, they’re turned to God. They’re focused on worshiping him, and they’re experiencing this degree of peace and prosperity but then look at verse eight, Joshua, the son of none, the servant of the Lord died being 110 years old. When the judge or in this case Joshua, when that person dies, it always seems to lead us down this track. And so you turn the page over and it says, verse eleven, the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Bah Alim. So in Hebrew, Avram, when you put the I am or that ending on any word, it’s a plural ending.
It’s a masculine plural ending. So they served balls. Again, part of it is this. Part of the difficulty is because balls just a title, there are various candidate guides. You could also actually in this period apply Baal to Jehovah in the same way you could apply Adonai to Jehovah. Jehovah is often characterized in the Scriptures in terms of these kind of storm God attributes, which seems to be part of the confusion that then the Israelites are struggling with in maintaining their Covenant and their covenants generally.
And in verse 13, they forsook the Lord and served Baal and asteroid.
And again, it’s this notion of rain and fertility kind of the two big things that the ancient Israelites are interested in. And by the way, this period in particular is useful. So Judges, as part of a broader historical cycle in the Old Testament that scholars call the Deuderamnistic history, it’s a nice. And what that is, is it’s a history of Israel that’s sort of based on the kind of Covenant perspective found in the book of Deuteronomy. And so it’s Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Samuel, Kings, Kings. Those are the DTRH. And doing even the sight of God like we have there in verse eleven is basically always going to be in journalistic history, turning away and worshiping other gods Besides Jehovah.
It’s a bit like when Mormon is editing the Book of Mormon. He will use a phrase and thus we see he’ll tell a story and thus we see and provide a conclusion. And these ancient inspired Editors are trying to help us to see some lessons from history. Here’s what happens when people turn away from God. And unfortunately they have lots of stories to give evidence of what happens when people turn away from God.
So look at verse 14. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them and he sold them into the hands of their enemies, roundabout so they could not any longer stand before their enemies. So now we’re clear down here to this destruction phase. And it says verse 15, wheresoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said. Well then look at verse 16. Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.
One of the things I love actually about the Book of judge about chapter two in particular is we don’t always get our inspired editor schematic. They always tell us here’s what I’m doing with my book. And judges, too, makes it very clear this is what I’m doing with it. They’re laying out for us very clearly the intention of how this book is going to be organized.
That’s beautiful. So whoever’s writing this book as it comes to us today, like all I’m saying, chapter two is really their overlay lens to say, we’re showing you this pattern so that when we then tell you all these stories, you can see all these steps. So look at verse 15 or verse 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. So this is probably a good place to pause for just a second with this idea of God raising up judges to deliver the people. The way you and I in English in the 21st century interpret the word judge is we picture a person sitting in a black robe, up on a judgment seat in a courtroom with a gavel in his or her hand, making a decision and banging the gavel down and passing judgment. In antiquity, what is a judge?
So if you look at these stories, a judge would be better translated as a savior or deliver. Somebody who releases individuals or groups from bondage or their really destructive circumstances. They’re in. Now, in some ways, that’s what judges are doing in our modern day. If you are inappropriately brought before the judge, the judge is going to release you. But in this case, in the ancient world, it was much more dramatic. You’re stuck in circumstances you cannot solve for yourself. And God sends a savior. He sends a deliverer. So in some ways, it’d be interesting if instead of calling this the book of judges, we call it the Book of Deliverers or the Book of Saviors for ancient Israel to help us to remember what’s going on. And the point here is to symbolize the Savior who pulls us out of our own cycles of destruction, where we get pulled away and distracted by the things that we think you’re going to save us, and God sends a savior to bring us back into his presence.
And with that, by the way, it’s very clear there are numerous places in the Old Testament where Jehovah is described as a judge, Hebrew word here where he’s described So, for example, just one off top of my head here in Genesis 18, when Abraham is talking with God about Israel, about Sodom and Gomorrah there, he asked, verse 25, shall not the judge of all the Earth do right? Aye, Jehovah. There is the shock, the judge, the deliverer of the whole Earth. And argument is, well, shouldn’t you be delivering these people? And it’s persuasive if you can’t find them to do it as we talked about previously with that story, but this idea that not only does he sending these deliverers, but all these deliverers are their models for who Jehovah really is, his behavior towards the whole Earth.
So now let’s continue this overview cycle, verse 19. And it came to pass when the judge was dead that they returned and corrupted themselves more than their fathers in following other gods to serve them and to bow down unto them. They cease not from their own doings nor from their stubborn way. By the way, did you catch that, that wording there is interesting. They cease not from their own doings, which ties into that very last verse of the Book of Judges. They did that which was right in their own eyes or in their own sight. The whole Old Testament narrative to me, one of the overlays of it is, am I going to set my sights on God and seek his will to do it, or am I going to put my eyes on the Earth and cut myself off from God and do what I want to do? I have agency. He doesn’t prevent me from doing that, but he can’t let me do that and stay in a position of peace and prosperity. So they’re doing their own doings rather than God’s doings. It reminds me of the C. S. Lewis statement of in the end, there are really only two kinds of people, those who say to God, Thy will be done and those to whom God says thy will be done.
It’s just sad.
And you actually see that even in this thing right where starting in 20, it gets mad again, they’re transgressed. And he says, I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died. God says, you’re not going to kick them out. Okay, I won’t. It’s fine. We’ll leave it for you. So, yeah, I think it’s very intriguing, the numerous days in Scripture regards. Okay, is that what you want? You want to be like the other nations? Okay. We’ll bring other nations in to be with you for this.
And look at verse 22, that through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein as their fathers did, keep it or not.
It’s worth remembering here, by the way, also which we talked before about domestic history. Dtrh. Dtrh is probably composed the reign of King Josiah and immediately after, right around the time of the start of the Book of Mormon, I. E. The authors and Editors of DTRH journalistic history, they know the end of the story. They know what’s going to happen in terms of this. And so even though they’re building on these early traditions from judges, they’re also aware that it’s not going to end well for Israel. And they have sort of Babylon exile in their sites as they’re sort of putting these things together like Mormon as they’re redacting and editing this work.
Perfect. Now he ends verse chapter two with verse 23. Therefore, the Lord left those nations without driving them out hastily. Neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua. Once again, when you read the book of Joshua, it makes it sound like, okay, it’s all cleaned. The land is now free for Israel and only Israel. But that is not the case which opens up chapter three. What is the first implication of having other nations there? Verse six? 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 forgot the Lord, their God and served Balin and the Groves.
And again, this is just what we’re going to do. And part of the problem as always, it’s worth remembering for us as we talk about Israelite religion, the worship of Jehovah. Canaanite religion. The difficulty is always going to be not that they’re so different, but that they’re so very similar. Okay. From an ancient perspective, if we looked at the worship of Jehovah, it would have looked to many people like this sort of canaid. So the Israelites seem to think that, well, it’s not that different. So we don’t have to worry about it until they said, no. There’s a real big difference there, guys, and it’s me, I’m the difference that we’re worried about here.
And what’s interesting here, we talk about the Alim and the Groves. You can actually translate that to astronaut. These are poles or Groves or trees that represent this fertility goddess. If you look at first defy early on, there’s this amazing and powerful dream and a vision about a tree of Salvation. So you can imagine the Israelites who are off worshipping false gods, but using trees to represent Salvation. And then you have Nephi, who understands these traditions. He gets a revelation that teaches the truth that God himself is represented by this tree. And the fruit of that atonement draws us to him. We have these interesting traditions where the Israelites can’t seem to understand the truth about God, and they let themselves get.
Distracted about God’s characteristics, and they impose.
That on false gods or false things. And they start following those things again back in chapter two, it’s all about are they going to keep the Covenant? Will they be loyal to God in that relationship, or are they going to cheat on God and follow after other relationships and therefore miss out on all the promised blessings?
So the stage is now set for verse eight. The anger of the Lord is kindled. Verse nine, the children of Israel cried unto the Lord. The Lord raised up a deliverer. So you see that they’re down here. They cried unto the Lord. So God raises up our first notice. It didn’t use the word judge in this context. In the KJV. It says their first deliverer.
And it’s worth noting that first deliverer, the O’Neill here is he’s Caleb’s nephew. And so there’s this continuity with the generation of Josh. Remember, Joshua and Caleb were the two spies who spied up. They’re the good spies of the twelve spies. As we begin this whole process, the Lord gives Israel sort of continuity with the previous sort of leadership. Moses, Joshua, Caleb with this sort of familial connection between O’Neill and Caleb, very powerful.
It gives him that sense of connection and authenticity to be a leader because of his family relation. Now, what does Oath Neal do? Verse ten, the spirit of the Lord came upon him and he judged Israel and he went out to war.
And then the Lord delivers him from Husha and rishattan, which is a word that means it means double evil. And this is probably just tradition about how bad this guy is in the ancient Islamic perspective. It’s kind of great. By the way, as a small thing, Mesopotamia here is not Iraq. The Hebrew here is Aram Naharaam. So this is up in Syria. This is actually really close to where Abraham comes from rather than from Iraq. And the two Rivers here are not the Tigris Neuphrates. So there in verse ten, also the spirit of the Lord came upon him. This idea of the spirit Lord or Jehovah coming upon the judge. This is how judges are called in the Book of Judges. The action he was rushed on him, the spirit of Jehovah rushes on the judge, and then he’s called and he gets this charismatic authority to lead and save and deliver Israel.
I love you point this out because this word prosperity shows up in the Book of Judges where it says, and the Lord did prosper Samson. And the underlying Hebrew is that the spirit of the Lord rushed down upon him. I think. Well, that’s interesting. When we go partake of the Sacrament, we are claiming our loyalty to God, that we can also have the spirit of God rush down upon us and prosper us. So when we look in the Book of Mormon about God prospering people, sure, material blessings is often what God wants to offer people. But the most significant thing is when we talk about prospering, it’s having the spirit of God, when you’re with God, when you have his spirit, you can do anything. That’s the lesson I see here.
That is a really important one.
So that prosperity under Oath Neil’s deliverance lasts in verse eleven for 40 years, a long time, but then he died. So you’re going to see that pattern again, repeat over and over is the judge dies. And verse twelve, the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of.
The Lord and again in a DTRH context, that’s always going to be idolatry, that’s always going to be worshiped gods Besides the God of Israel.
And so what does God do? He strengthened. Eglon, the King of Moab.
Eglon means the cow guy, by the way. Kind of a funny guy. Yeah, calf, but which probably plays in how he’s portrayed in this chapter.
Yeah. They portray him as very large. So notice verse 14, they served the King of Moab 18 years. They’re in an 18 year bondage, very similar to us. I wonder if this cycle of the Book of Judges, if we let it can become a pattern for our life where we repent, God forgives us, and then we fall back into sin, and then we serve that sin for a while, and then we repent and then we fall back. I don’t think God intended for us to live our life like this, going around in circles. I think he intended the Covenant path to not ever have us turning away from him, but to have peace and prosperity drive us to deeper humility, which leads to further repentance and more deliverance and more victories and greater prosperity. I think we don’t have to feel like a victim to this whole judge cycle or pride cycle. So I just wanted to point that out because it can get pretty discouraging. We’ve just barely gotten to the second judge in the cycle, and it already feels heavy. But I don’t think that was intended to be the pattern of what it means to be a disciple on the Covenant path today.
So in verse 15 it says, but when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up. A deliverer, Ehud?
The son of Guerra, a Benjaminite, a man left handed. I think there’s just fun details. Sometimes in the scriptures, the word Benjamin literally means son of the right hand, and yet this guy’s left handed. So there’s almost like this fun word play going on that you have this right handed tribe, the tribe name for the right hand, and yet the guy who’s a deliverer is left handed. There’s all this creativity now in our culture, left handedness has often been seen as less than in fact, in French, the word for left means is sinister. The idea was that people who are left handed were sinister. And yet we have this guy who doesn’t fit the mold of typical right handedness, about 90% of the population. And God uses an unexpected character who people thought we can’t trust him because it doesn’t fit the cult, our mold. He doesn’t fit the mold. He actually is raised up by God to deliver, and I think that’s a lesson for all of us. We may not fit the mold.
God can help it’s, not just a little bit of mold. His left hand is vital to how he saves Israel because he straps the knife to the inside of his right thigh, which when he goes into Cahood, they don’t search him there because it’s kind of weird awkward to be right hand to try and pull that out. But it’s just one motion. And so not only is it doesn’t fit the mold, he’s not fitting the mold is specifically how he is able to save Israel.
I just love how God does his work and he uses his children who are faithful to him, to bring about.
Incredible purposes, which means, by the way, directly, whatever. If you don’t fit the mold, God can use that to actually do his work, that there are things that it’s you God likes, and I love that about the God we worship is that what he wants is us. The consecrated Taylor is different than the consecrated offering. It’s different the concentrated Tyler. And God wants all of us in our forms and what we can bring to the Kingdom.
What an amazing thing it would be then, if we spent less time comparing ourselves to each other and feeling either superior or inferior in those comparisons. But if we spent, instead of our time doing that, spend our time going to the Lord in sincere meekness to say, you gave me these unique characteristics, this unique combination of gifts and talents and abilities and struggles. What can I do with this package that you’ve given me in order to help build thy Kingdom and help connect people more fully with thee and with the heavenly? That would be, I think, a better usage of our time, rather than comparing.
One of the great messages in the Book of Judges in general, is that the kinds of people that God calls to deliver tend to be people on the Martin. These do not tend to be sort of we’ve got Benjamin, this left hander, our next judge, Shamgar or the Oxford. He only gets one verse. We don’t know about him, but the.
One after that is totally an outlier. Why?
Well, mostly because she’s a woman. She’s the only female judge. She does a lot of intriguing things with Deborah. She’s a prophetess. She’s the only female judge, actually. She’s really intriguing in a lot of ways. Her name means something like honey Bee is what Devara and Hebrew Deborah. And there’s some evidence in the east of a connection between sort of honey honey dripping down and prophecy. So this may relate to her role as a prophetess, as she’s described in our story here in Judges, which if.
You look at verse four and five, it tells you her name. She’s a profit test. So you’ll notice that you don’t get the label of profit with these other judges. They’re just called deliverers. But she gets the label first and foremost, a prophetess. The wife of Lapidolf, she judged Israel at that time. Now, what does that look like in her context? Versailles. She dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Rama and Bethel in Mount Ephraim, that’s Northern Israel and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. So it’s this beautiful Christ like image of her under this tree. As Taylor has already talked about, the tree of life being a representation or a symbol for Christ. And he who knows all and can give the best counsel. He is the greatest counselor of all. So here’s Deborah sitting under this tree, dwelling under this tree, and people come to her for judgment because she’s this prophetess. She can know things that they don’t know. I love that imagery of these people coming to her in this Christlike way.
And Deborah, by the way, is the only judge who has a specific religious type affiliation thing. I mean, they’re all called by God through God rushes on all of them. But she’s the only one who specifically identified as any kind of prophetic or priestly figure, which is, I think, intriguing for her because we don’t always think about the religious roles that women play, even in the Old Testament, even our own day, we don’t really think about it, but especially in the Old Testament. And Deborah is distinctive for that. So now it’s intriguing thing about the Deborah narrative is that you’ve got the stories. You got the story in Deborah for Cicera comes down, they’re enslaved to the Canaanites. We don’t know what can I say? These are it’s very unspecified in Judges for, which is unfortunate. And then there’s this guy, Barack, who Debra said, you need to come be a general. Barack’s kind of a little wishy washy and says, you got to come with me. By the way, one of the cool things about the Debra story is this is really a story about women acting to save Israel. Almost all the action that happens in the Deborah story is women leading out for this.
You’ve got this really great story here in Judges Four together, this narrative. But again, because it’s not even Barack and the armies that end up defeating Cicera margins again. So Cicera goes to the tent of this Midianite, Yahl J L. And she puts a tent spike through his head, basically, but she’s the one who actually does it’s, this woman who delivers the action to it. So you have this whole narrative. It’s presented in Judges Four. And then immediately afterwards in Judges Five, you have again five, one then saying, Debra and Barak, the son of Akinoam, on that day saying, and you have this poem. Now, what’s intriguing about this poem is that as we look at the Hebrew underlying our Old Testament, Judges Five is one of the oldest Hebrew texts. It’s probably the oldest text we have in our current Bible as the Bible. We talked already today even about this idea of how the Bible was edited, like Mormon.
They have all these things that go into the composition of the Bible. You and I are used to kind of a literate society where we expect to be able to read things in the ancient world. In ancient Israel, things were primarily transmitted orally, and they would have had these stories and these songs and some of those stories and songs are then preserved. Some of them in the Psalms tend to be later. But our two oldest texts are actually this and then the song of Moses in Exodus 15. Those are our two oldest texts. And what it looks like actually is that the song is probably the original. It’s probably what the ancient author and other judges had. And then with these other narratives, he kind of has a song and then tells the narrative that we see based on what’s in this song. And it’s actually beautiful stuff, but it represents a very old stage of the Israelite tradition that again, the DTRH and our later Editors are going to work through. And it’s part of why I think why Deborah is so distinctive is because she represents almost one of the earliest stages we have of Jehovah’s relationship with Israel and of who Jehovah uses to save his people.
So now in a plot twist, you get the Midianites who helped deliver Israel in chapter five. They actually become the conquerors in chapter six. So now they have taken over verse one. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. So we have this multitude in verse five that they describe as grasshoppers that have come in this conquest. Verse six, Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites. And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord. So verse eight says the Lord sent a Prophet unto the children of Israel, which David unto them. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt and brought you forth out of the house of bondage. Isn’t this interesting? God sends a Prophet, but we don’t get his name.
No unnamed Prophet who goes before and he’s not a judge. His whole motion here, like Prophet Jesus in the Old Testament, is deliver God’s word. Again, that thus saith the Lord, is very distinctive of prophetic speech in the Old Testament.
And what the Prophet does is reminds them of their covenantal obligation delivered from Moses at Mount Sinai to the people, this is you guys are in the promised land. Your job and responsibility is to be covenantly connected to God, to be loyal to him, to not cheat on him. And these phrases here is the Prophet reminding people of God’s loyalty to them of all he had done to save them. Therefore, they owe him their loyalty. Now if you look at the Benedict story in the Book of Mormon, you have a man coming among the people speaking in the name of the Lord and essentially doing the same thing, saying you guys are going to fall into bondage or are in bondage. If you do not listen to the Lord, you need to remember his loyalty to you. So the same pattern shows up throughout the Bible and throughout the Book Book.
Of Mormon central it’s useful because as you read sort of ancient scripture. Because of our own religious tradition, we tend to view prophets as being kind of the primary leaders of the people. They’re the religious leaders, but that’s not the role we always see in the Old Testament. Even in the Book of Mormon, a Benadi comes to give a message not to lead the people. This Prophet, he’s not a judge. He’s come here to give a message to the people. And so it’s worth noting sometimes that the Prophet doesn’t always have the full valence that it sometimes has in the modern Church of Jesus Christ.
That’s very helpful. So we now need to raise up a deliverer against these Midianites. So the Lord picks once again somebody who is about as far out on the periphery of society as he could have found somebody of Manassa in this case. And his name is Gideon. You’ve probably heard his name before. And he has this interesting interaction with the angel of the Lord that appeared to him and tells him that he is a mighty man of Valor. And can you picture Gideon sitting there saying, I’m just threshing wheat over here behind the wine press to hide from the Midianites. I’m a nobody. I’m just this common guy. In fact, look at his wording. In verse 15, he said unto him, oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. So Manasse isn’t known as this big powerful tribe in Israel, and I am the least in my father’s house. I’m totally unknown. I am not a mighty man of Taylor.
It’s even more than that. If you go back, even back to 13. Gideon, the Lord is with thee. And Gideon says, by the way, you can see the two pipes of Lord here. So he addressed the angel as my Lord. You see, it’s just regular and the small capture that’s Jehovah. So, oh my Lord, if Jehovah be with us, then why has all this befallen us? And where are the miracles which he did for our Father who brought us out of Egypt? Gideon basically puts us back on God. And the angel says, look, the Lord is with you. And Gideon says, really? Because if Jehovah’s with us, then why are we here? Where’s all the great stuff he’s done for us?
In answer to that, verse 16, the Lord said unto him, and notice, as Avram pointed out in the King James Version of the Old Testament, when you see the capital Lord, you can just replace that with Jehovah.
Probably ought to actually, even.
Yeah, so we could say. And Jehovah said unto him, Surely I will be with thee. Notice that I the Lord God of Israel. This one that you’ve been talking about, who did all these things? Well, guess what? As I was with Moses and with Joshua, now, Gideon, I’m with you. You’re my chosen servant. And thou Shalt Smite the Midianites as one man.
In some ways, I love this because basically Gideon says to God, well, why don’t you do something? And God says, I did, I sent you. And I think sometimes in our lives, we do like God, let’s do something. God says, I did, I sent you. Honestly, the Gideon story, again, we see examples in Judges six. I mean, Gideon is really insecure. This kind of reminds us a little bit of Moses who makes so many excuses. God gets mad at him minds, a little bit of Enoch, why pick me? We see this a lot in the scriptures where they’re called are insecure. But part of the message for Gideon is that this whole thing where Gideon gathers Israel to fight, and God says that’s too many. So all these various tests to go down, I think part of the message is, again, getting in some ways, it’s challenged to God says, where are the miracles? And God says, you want a miracle? Let me show you a miracle. And so I think a lot of giddy stories about that.
Exactly. Now, before we actually get into chapter seven, where the deliverance takes place, I think it’s fascinating how Gideon takes his new assignment as the deliverer so seriously that before he assembles any of the army, before he goes off to any fight, he recognizes that the real fight, the real enemy here isn’t the Midianites, it’s the idol worship. So he does something very fascinating. He goes at night, take some people, and he cuts down the Groves where they’re worshiping idols, breaks down the altars. The next morning, the men assemble and find everything destroyed and say, who did this? And they realized who it was. And so they go to Gideon’s father and say, Send out your son so we can kill him. And gratefully his dad has a nice response.
Again, it’s part of this whole ongoing discussion. It’s like, look, if Ball wanted to protect it, he could have. Basically, if he’s a real God, then let him come out and explain to himself, let him do it.
Let him destroy my son. And so it’s a powerful way for Gideon to begin his conquest. In my mind, the fact that he attacked first, the idol worshiping is a beautiful pattern for our life. Cleanse the inner vessel before you start worrying about the external problems or the external enemies. So you get to chapter seven. And let’s just put this in context, because in chapter eight, we learned that the number of Midianites is 1350. So if you just start doing some fun math in your mind in chapter seven, we start with 32,000 Israelite soldiers to go up against 1350. If you do the math, it’s roughly one to four. So you guys are going to have to take out four of their guys in order to break even in this battle. So you’re following this so far, but the Lord tells him verse two, the people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. Look how strong we were. One to four and we won.
Sounds like the knee fights at times in the Book of Mormon.
Yes, it does.
And that’s a major thing. When we finally get to the profits towards the end of the Old Testament year this year, this is something that Joe was constantly telling them, I did this so you wouldn’t be able to say this, guys.
That’s right. So then he goes, the Lord tells him to go to the people and say, Whosoever is fearful and afraid? Let him return into part early for Mount Gilead and 22,000 men. David. Yeah, that’s me. I’m out of here. So they left. So we went from 32,000 down to $10,000. So now your odds just if you’re keeping track of the ratio, it’s roughly one to 13.5 or somewhere between 13 and 14 men that each one of your guys is going to have to take out. And you think, wow, we’ve just crippled our forces, but we’re going to watch God do his work. But verse four, the Lord said unto Gideon, the people are yet too many. Bring them down under the water and I will try them for the there. So what’s his little test at the water?
It’s kind of weird. I think it’s actually the point is that he has them, they gun down. And those that drink the water just lapping it up. It’s like a dog there, put in those. And those ones that bow down and kind of put up their hand, you put them separately. I’ll take the ones that lap up the water with like a dog. And I think the purpose here, again, it seems arbitrary. I think the actual purpose again, I don’t want to read God’s mind, but I think what God is doing here is you’re more likely to try and drink with your hands than just lap. So it’s going to be the smallest number of God can possibly get from.
This group, which now if you’re down to 300, Jesus, the $135,000. Now your ratio is somewhere in the ballpark of one to 450. I don’t know if you can picture in your mind what 450 trained armed soldiers looks like, but each one from Israel would be responsible. But I think even there, the Lord’s making a point. It’s not you who’s going to destroy them, it’s me who’s going to deliver you. So it’s part of his point here, so that nobody in the future could say, wow, the Israelites are the best fighters ever because they actually don’t really engage as much in the battle. They use this fun technique that the Lord inspires Gideon with to split his men into three groups of 100 and go at different parts of the camp of Midian by night. With lanterns inside of these pots and have trumpets. And at his sign, what does he do?
They break the pots and this thing and they blow the trumpets and they make this huge noise. First of all, got to send a bad dream to the Medianites before, and they’re like, it’s a giant. We’re surrounded by the huge army and it routes them basically out any combat initially. Now, of course, with Gideon. One thing I love about the Old Testament is the willingness of the Old Testament to tell a sort of rounded story of its characters. The Bible in general, the Old test in particular, is really okay with telling the whole story. And they’re great things that Gideon does. He delivers them. They kind of want to make him whatever. But then kind of in the middle of eight, he makes an APOD that leads Israel away to an APOD is we’re not entirely sure what it is. It’s some kind of priestly image type thing that’s as best as I can, that’s technical term, by the way, guys, priestly image type thing. But this causes later on, these wites are going to worship it and use it as a puppy symbol of Jehovah still, but use it as a way for unauthorized religious worship.
And this is part of the thing. And the message here is getting is great, and there’s no sense that getting is a bad guy. But sometimes things happen that we don’t always expect. And that’s part of the message this entire life.
That’s a beautiful reminder of Ram. Gideon is perfect, and he does everything exactly the way God would have wanted him to do it. He still had his agency. Perhaps there was some missteps along the way here, but let’s not hold him hostage to that.
Absolutely not. Extending the same Grace that we won’t be able to send to us is kind of my.
I think, in the words of the Savior, would be with whatsoever judgment you judge there with, shall we also be judged? It’s that idea. We look at the whole story with eyes wide open, but at the end of the day, we recognize the hand of God in his life working through him. And we hope we can all do that, not just with each other as well, but also with that person looking at you in the mirror because you more than anybody know what that person has done wrong as well as what that person has done right. And perhaps Gideon’s story could be another reminder of us to give the benefit of the doubt. Whenever possible, let God prevail in our life and recognize the shortcomings, which, again.
We’Re going to jump on because there are other cool stories here. One of the things I love about Judges, really, obviously, we read scriptures for these spiritual messages, but Judges is one of the great examples of ancient hero literature. It’s like reading The Odyssey. It’s like reading the initiative. There are these really neat stuff in there. And I guess the primary purpose, of course, reading scripture is to bring us closer to God and help us have a better relationship with each other and with Jesus Christ. But there’s value in recognizing that sometimes scripture can just be fun. And there’s some cool stuff in here. But in terms of this notion of the whole story, Samson is interesting.
We will say Samson is unfortunately one of the greatest tragedies in my mind of the entire Old Testament. This guy who started with so much promise, so much capacity, and ended with so little. And yet the Lord still used him, even in his he broke every vow, every Covenant, every promise that had been given to him and that he had made. He breaks them all. But at the end of the day, even in his lowest moment, God still uses him as an instrument to deliver Israel from the Philistines in this case.
And it’s also worth noting, perhaps kind of jumping to the end a little bit. But in his worst moment, his lowest moment, he also calls on God again, he does Samson’s story actually ends with him asking God for help. And there may be value and see, because we kind of folk, he’s kind.
Of like his Hercules figure, right? He’s big, he’s strong.
He’s a golden boy. His name means like the sun guy, right? Shemish is the chef shown Samson. So he Burns brightly and he’s almost presented in this kind of almost Greek, demigod kind of way figure.
And his hair is almost like the rays of sunlight that bring power, which is symbolically. Why you don’t cut the hair, because that is representative of the source of power. Like if you cut the rays of the sun, well, that no longer you have heat or light for the Earth. The whole thing is destroyed. So really interesting things going on in this particular story.
So to introduce the actual beginning of Samson’s story, now that we’ve kind of overviewed it, look at chapter 13, verse one. Of course, we’re skipping all of these other multiple stories, and they’re cool.
So you should read them.
And so we’re just skipping all of these. And we’re going to go down to chapter 13 where it opens and the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord. And the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines. 40 years. I know it was shocking. You didn’t expect to see that coming there, but sometimes there’s a plot twist and there you go again.
Okay, in terms of the narrative, Samsung is kind of our last judge here. And suddenly we’ve had these people, we’ve had the Aram Naharaiim, we’ve had Midianites. We’ve had generic Canaanites note here the bad guys are the Phillips. This is going to be a major thing. They’re a power that moves in to the coastal land. So Israel’s real strength is in the center of what’s now the Israel Palestine land of Canaan. Then the Canaanites. They’re probably part of the sea people, and they become a major issue as.
We move forward in the Bible and the Philippines are going to come up over and over and over again. Like you said, they’re on that coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, where today maybe Gaza Strip and up towards Northern parts of Israel, along that coastline again.
And part of it, the Philistines are technologically and culturally more advanced than the Israelites. And this is part of why there’s so much tension there another growing power who have some skills that the Israelites we see later on. The Philistines are able to work iron before the Philistines. This is a transition between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, and the Philistines bring iron working earlier than the Israelites have it.
So verse two, there was a certain man of Zora, of the family of the Danites. So now we’re going to the tribe of Dan. Have you noticed a pattern in the book of Judges that it’s not one tribe is always the delivering tribe. These are coming from a variety of.
Places, and that’s really useful because, of course, the authors of the Bible generally are Judaites. Judah is kind of the lens through which the Old Testament and even the New Testament is written. But it’s nice because it’s a reminder that, one, that all Israel is part of this. And Judges give us some really great examples of tribes Besides Judah doing things and helping out.
So the angel appears in verse three unto a woman who is from verse two, Baron and Barona. And we see this throughout the Old Testament is these stories of couples who are not able to have children. And as Abraham said earlier, the land producing and a family being able to produce posterity, that’s life for them, that’s where they get their whole sense of being and survival is in these two realms, pragmatically.
There aren’t social nets and social structures in place. And so if you’re going to be supported, you need children to support you. This is a very real economic and.
Life necessity so Abram at this point. It’s fascinating because traditionally in our biblical narratives, we see heavenly visitors coming to the men. Usually it’s the traditional flow. In this case, who is it that comes and who gets visited?
It’s intriguing. There’s a figure, the angel of the Lord, Hewitt Malak Yahweh. Malach, angel of Jehovah. And in the Old Testament, that means it’s Jehovah.
The angel of the Lord is the direct messenger. There’s some evidence, actually, that these are text editions in some places that it’s actually Jehovah appearing. And it’s key because we get the name of Manoa. But the angel initially or Jehovah himself, does not appear to Manoa, but to Manoa’s wife, to Samson’s mother. And this is really valuable because this is an example. She is able to receive Revelation for herself, she is able to have that direct connection with God herself about her son Samson. And that’s really important to highlight, as we think through the scriptures, we saw something similar with Rebecca and things like that. There are other places, but it’s really valuable that the Lord communicates with her.
He tells her, by the way, don’t drink any strong drink, don’t eat any unclean thing. Why verse five for low, thou shalt conceive and bear a son, and no raiser shall come on his head, for the child shall be a Nazareth unto God from the womb, and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. It’s that idea of your child is going to be a great deliverer.
Now, a cultural thing. Nazareth is a special level of sort of Covenant significance that you find in place in the law. You sort of dedicate yourself usually for a short period of time to the Lord as you keep an even stricter version of the law. And here you don’t cut your hair or your face or your beard. You don’t actually touch anything from the grapes, not even raisins. It says racist, but no drink, so no alcohol. And you have even more specific rules about touching dead bodies. And the idea here is that sampling is going to keep these vows from when he’s a baby upwards, and that’s at least the idea of what that will sort of lead to his strength. We see. Actually, as Tyler kind of pointed to, he actually keeps none of them.
Yeah. He’s going to cut himself off from every single connection that God has made with him. So in chapter 14, he’s born at the end of chapter 13, and chapter 14 begins with him seeing a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. So one of the very strict laws of the law of Moses is Martin, the Covenant don’t marry outside the family. So the very first thing right out of the chute, the first introduction to this child of promise, this great delivery, is he was down among the Philistines, and he saw a woman that he really liked and wants to marry.
And of course, in three, it talks. You see the first, the uncircumcised Philistines. And this is going to be a lot as narrative comes up, this one is the distinctive features of the Philistines. So one of the things, of course, for Abraham, circumcision is a sign of the Covenant. And actually the Covenant before it changed in Jerusalem Council, it’s sort of the Premier sign of the Covenant between God. But the Israelites are the only people in ancient world who circumcised. We evidence the Egyptians did so many cannons, we have some Phoenician evidence. So the Israelites being circumcised isn’t going to be weird outside of the Covenant significance. But the Philistines are not a Semitic people. The Egyptians, but they’re not Canaanites they related to culturally and linguistically, the Greeks and some of these things. And so the idea that they’re not circumcised is one they’re so far outside the Covenant that they can’t even this is not just an alien people from the ancient isolate perspective.
So he prevails on his mom and dad to go and take this daughter of the Philistines for him to marry her. And on his way, you get that story of him finding the carcass of the lion with the honey inside of the carcass, and he dips the stick in it and eats the honey.
Remember, as in Nazareth, he can’t touch dead bodies, okay? Other lights can they unclean and they wash themselves. He is not supposed to touch any dead bodies.
But there you go. And as part of this seven day wedding ceremony and festivities, he puts out a Riddle to them and says, hey, if you can solve my Riddle, I’ll give you this. And if you can’t, you give me that. And so the Riddle is in verse 14, out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the Riddle. And thus begins this pattern in Samson’s life, where he’s doing things almost for him, for his game and it’s for his sport and for his entertainment.
Samson saves Israel, but only accidentally is kind of the way I would frame that. And by the way, as a brief culture aside, the prize is 30 sheets and 30 garments. And for us in the modern age, with machine made clothing, we’re like, yeah, you get clothes for this. But in an ancient world where every cloth had to be hand woven and hand sewn, this is a mighty, mighty prize. Actually, we find Wills in the ancient world where they pass down clothing because it’s so important, because it takes so much to make clothing in the ancient world.
So these men who can’t figure out his Riddle keep going to his wife and begging her to figure out how to get from him the answer to the Riddle. And then they threaten her, if you don’t tell us the answer, we’re going to do bad things to you. And so she pleads with him, and he tells her the answer on day seven, right at that final hour. And then they come and they tell him the Riddle. And so his response is one of frustration. He goes down to Ashkalon. He slew 39 of them and took their spoil.
I’ll get the Quill and just to kill a bunch of guys. And by the way, Ashley is a Philistine city again, this is sort of the accidental saving Israel. He kills a bunch of Philistines to give them the price for that.
And so he then leaves, leaving his new wife behind, and her father gives the new wife to his friend. So this story gets very convoluted very quickly. So when Samson eventually goes back down to be with his wife again, he finds out that she’s been given to another man, it makes him pretty upset. So his retaliation, it’s so interesting that it’s all selfishly motivated. At least it seems to be. It’s all what you did that. So to get revenge, he takes 300 Foxes and what does he do?
He ties fire branches, torches their tails, and sends them through their crops. For Brandt is this great prank on the Philistines? I’m not destroying their crops, it’s just the Foxes guys.
Well, the Philistines find out who has caused this great destruction among them. And they say, oh, it was Sampson and he was married to her and it was caused because her father gave her to somebody. So what do they do? The Philistines go and they burn them.
It’s kind of this let the punishment fit the crime kind of thing. It’s pretty terrible, actually.
And so then you get Samson, who in response to that, turns around and the story says, he takes the Jawbone of a donkey, his Jawbone of an ass, and he goes and he slays 1000 Philistines. So then chapter 16, we find Samson going down to Gaza, another Philistine city, and there he saw a harlot, and he went in unto her. And so all the Gazaites, they said, oh, we’ve got Samson in here, let’s trap him. And in the morning we’re going to kill him. But at midnight, verse three, he rose, he took the doors of the gate of the city and the two posts and went with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders and carried them up to the top of a Hill that is, before Hebron.
Hebron is miles and miles away from Gaza. The whole point is he’s tearing us across half the land of Canaan to make his point about how cool he is.
And it’s not just one part of the gate, it’s the two posts and the bar and all that he’s carrying on his shoulders. He is this herculean figure in this story? Then verse four, it came to pass afterward that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.
Now, what’s intriguing about Delilah is it’s not his previous wife? It’s very clear was a Philistine. Delilah is not specified whether she’s Philistine or Israelite. And the story works both ways, which is intriguing for us. So in verse five, the Philistines come to her and they say, entice him. This is a different story if she’s a Philistine or if she’s an Israelite. Again, we don’t know for a fact. The implication may be that she’s Philistine, but the fact that the biblical author doesn’t tell us means that there’s intriguing ambiguity in this narrative and which will affect her reactions with it one way or the other. If she’s a Philistine, then her reacting with the Philistines and sort of selling Samsung out to Philistine makes a lot of sense. If she’s an Israelite, it makes that portrayal even sharper when she sells them out to the Philistines. So after this whole thing in Gaza, Samson marries this woman, Delilah, and she basically becomes a tool that the leaders of the Philistines use to try and get the secret of his great strength. And of course, the real secret is his Covenant relationship with God. But that’s symbolized by his Nazareth vow.
And by his hair. He goes, look, you hate me, right? Like, fine, it’s my hair. They cut my hair. I’ll have no strength. And obviously they cut his hair and he has no strength. They put his eyes out. It’s kind of terrible. They make him grind in the prison house. They put him to work grinding grain for them and whatever, which, by the way, has the effective would be building his strength again. So that’s maybe not the best thing for them to have done, but then they have this whole thing, this great big feast where they’re going to show off their prize, Samson. And of course, it’s that famous thing with Samson of the pillars. And I think it’s really compelling. For the first time in Samson’s life, here he is. He’s blind. He’s broken his Covenant. Everything is there. They’re all there. They’re making sport of him in verse 28. And then Samson called under the Lord, under Jehovah and said, oh, Lord, God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me. I pray thee only this once, that I may be eventually again for himself. A little bit there for these two eyes.
Then he takes hold of the pillars and he pulls the house down, taking himself. And it says, over 3000 Philistines with him. And he said he killed more then than he had his entire life there. But for me, part of the reason Samson is kind of a piece of work. It’s kind of terrible in a lot of ways, but it’s very compelling to me that even Samson, at this moment of extremity, calls on God. And God listens to him. I love that God listens to sampling’s Request It’s a good reminder to me that sometimes as we’re caught in this cycle here and we feel like we’re all day down here and God listens to us when we call, God’s going to listen. Even if the reason we were here was our fault, God still loves us to listen to us. God still loved and had called Samson and listened to his prayer and that’s powerful stuff, brothers and sisters. So there’s some stories at the end of Judges where the Editors moved out of their original historical context to make it. They’re kind of terrible stories to make his point about why and how Israel needs a King.
Their stories are designed to say, this is how bad it gets when we.
Don’T have any guidance to that point. If you look at chapter 17, which is right after Samson’s death, look at verse six. In those days, there was no King in Israel. But every man did that which was right in his own eyes. And then that exact phrase gets repeated at the very end. So it becomes this inclusive, this bookend definition, if you will, of, look, Israel, you need a King. You need somebody with power and authority to make things right so that everybody’s not just doing their own thing, which.
Of course, leads right into first Samuel, which were Samuel is priest, Prophet, judge, and the transitional figure between the judges and between the Israelite kingship.
So it’s interesting these questions about who is to lead Israel, these questions who’s a ruler, who’s the King? We see it throughout scriptures, throughout the Book of Mormon, throughout human history. If you take a very Western, American centered, US centered example, the United States wanted to throw off kingship, right? So they’ve been kingship all these years. So here book a Judge and say, we need a King. Well, United States Citizens for the US said we actually don’t want Kings anymore because too many Kings are just following their own whims. And we actually all want to agree upon laws that we think are good and just and all be bound to those. We want to be ruled by laws and not just by one single King. And that was a decision that the United States made and many other nations have gone away from kingship or the rule of one person and gone towards the rule of everybody under a specific set of laws that we’ve all publicly agreed to. So it’s interesting how these texts are grappling with who do we follow, what laws do we follow? And it’s interesting how the book concludes a very powerful call that still matters today.
Yeah. So to end where we began, we come full circle. It fits. In those days, there was no King in Israel. I would say in our days, there is a King in Israel who makes law. He is the author and the finisher of our law and our faith and our progression. And the God of heaven is our King. So we don’t have to follow the second half of that statement. Every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Now we can turn heavenward, seek to hear him, to harken to him, to obey, to worship, and to have our whole focus be on him and what he would have us do. We don’t need to keep living in this vicious cycle, this destructive cycle. We can break out of it only with the help of the heavenly King who has invited us all to come unto him and deny us none that come unto him.
So one thing again, I love that we have a God, one who gives us so much Grace, love, so much love. I love that we have a God who tells a story, again, the way the Bible tells a story of these people, they’re trying. They’re not doing it. They’re trying. And God again and again and again says it’s okay let me help you again and they do it again and God says it’s okay let me help you again and for myself that’s kind of a story of my life I feel like I’m caught sometimes I’m in bondage now or whatever and God again and again he says to me he says Auburn it’s okay let’s try this again and I have a firm testimony again we believe I have a firm testimony of a God who will always say to us okay let’s try this.
Again I love that perspective of Ram that God who was so merciful and longsuffering and so Grace filled with these people in antiquity is in his heavens today looking at you and me saying it’s okay let’s try this again know that he lives and know that he loves you and leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. Amen.
Here is your Come, Follow Me resource guide for Judges 2-4; 6-8; 13-16. Don’t forget to download the ScripturePlus app for a guided reading plan and additional resources!
Come Follow Me Insights
Taylor, Tyler, and special guest, Avram Shannon review the book of Judges. Shannon details that the idea behind Judges is to illustrate why Israel needs a King.
Daily Come Follow Me Videos
Day 1: Lynne Hilton Wilson – The Book of Joshua
Lynne Hilton Wilson heeds us to learn from the Israelites and to not repeat the cycle of apostasy as they so often did. .
Day 2: Marianna Richardson – The Pride Cycle in Judges
Marianna Richardson teaches about the pattern of remembering and forgetting the Israelites consistently fell into.
Day 3: John Hilton III – The Story of Gideon in the Bible
John Hilton III uses Gideon’s story to explain how the Lord’s “power works best in weakness.”
Day 4: Taylor Halverson – The Origin of Samson in the Bible
Taylor Halverson details how God brings all deliverance.
Day 5: Casey Griffiths – The Story of Samson in the Bible
Casey Griffiths tells Samson’s story and explains how we can avoid falling into the same end.
- Judges 2-4; 6-8; 13-16 Study Guide and Reading Plan
- Old Testament Cultural Insights by Avram Shannon
- The Jesus Christ Focused Old Testament: Making Sense of a Monumental Book by Donald W. Parry