The Lord graciously and mercifully demonstrated kindness to Gideon by allowing him to overhear his enemies recount a dream which became a portent of the victory to come. The Bible records the response of Gideon with the words he worshiped (Judges 7.15). He sincerely and genuinely attributed worth to God. We need more of this and less of what passes for worship in our day.
Ephraim had to be a puffed up people in the time of the Judges. Gideon began to subdue Israel’s enemies and had to assuage Ephraim with the following ingratiating words: “And what was I able to do in comparison with you” (Judges 8.1)? Then, many years later, another judge named Jephthah confronted the same kind of ire. Ephraim threatened to burn down Jephthah’s house because they were not asked to go up against Ammon. Funny thing is that he had asked Ephraim to help him and they did not. So Jephthah squared off against Ephraim in a battle between brethren (see Judges 12.1-7). 42,000 Ephraimites died. Ephraim stands for all those people who want a share in the glory of God’s work after the fact …or perhaps even all the glory in their own work.
People who depend upon their own strength will finally get to the end of themselves. Samson thought he would just go out and take care of a menacing threat in the same fashion as he did other times. Only “he did not know that the LORD had departed from him” (Judges 16.23). Samson lost his ‘outsight’ that day but gained some insight. Perhaps one last heroic opportunity for him? But alas, Samson simply want vengeance for losing his ‘outsight’ (16.28). We had better glorify God’s strength and acknowledge our weakness.
The idolatrous man treats God like a lucky rabbit’s foot (Judges 17-18). “You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and you have gone away. Now what more do I have? How can you say to me, ‘What ails you?’” (18.24)
“It cannot possibly get worse!” We’ve all heard this …maybe we’ve said it. Judges 19 tells us just how bad it can get. What characterized the Canaanites and made them ripe for thorough judgment at the hand of God through Israel now characterized Israel! A Levite threw his wife, a woman he claimed to love, out like one tosses scraps out to hungry dogs – all to save his own skin from perverts. Is it any wonder that the woman left him in the first place? The rawness of Judges 19 only thoroughly convinces me more that we have the very words of God before us! God is great and glorious; we are contemptible and in need of great mercy!
The darkness of the closing chapters of Judges gives way to the bright hope introduced by the Book of Ruth. The Levite’s callous heart toward his wife touched off a civil war in Israel that just about wiped out the entire tribe of Benjamin (see Judges 17-21). But the tenderness of Boaz introduces a theme of redemption that will culminate in his Descendant, the Lord Jesus Christ (Ruth 1-4).
“Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day” (Ruth3.18). Loving and leading …stillness and surrender – marriage the way it was meant to be!