The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Judges

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Divine Design § 7. Judges
Is this book less marked by the finger of God? Here it is not slackness but growing failure, and grievous forsaking of Jehovah; and Bochim succeeds to Gilgal, so that He sold them into heathen hands. Yet it attests His ear open to their cry, and deliverers raised up in answer. It is the book beyond all others of revivals on God's part, when to His mercy His people appealed out of their misery from their shameful sins. Historically and morally the book could only be where it is; the divine design is exactly suited to the facts.
To Jud. 3:7 is an introduction, as chap. 17 to the end is a dark yet needed appendix. Joshua's death did not hinder Jehovah's blessing when He was looked to by Judah, and for Simeon too. Othniel's early story is repeated. Yet did they all like Benjamin fail in energy: so too did Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan. Nor was it felt, till Jehovah's angel (chap. 2) came up from Gilgal to Bochim with the dread word that He would not drive out the accursed race whom they had spared. Thus they sunk lower and lower, as each deliverer died. Tears cannot do the work of faith. The evil was within and against Jehovah. Humiliation came from heathen without, instead of self-judgment by the word.
Their first oppressor was Chushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia, till the Spirit of Jehovah wrought in Othniel, and the land had rest for forty years. Then came the dominion of the Moabite Eglon, till Ehud was raised up, and the land rested eighty years. Shamgar followed for deliverance from the Philistines (chap. 4). Again Jabin of Hazor mightily oppressed Israel twenty years, when Deborah was used by God to subdue the Canaanite through Barak; and they sing Jehovah's praise in the noble ode of chap. 5.
On fresh evil Jehovah delivers Israel into the hand of Midian; but when they cried to Him, Gideon was raised up to be a savior. But what lessons of faith to make the weak strong in chaps. 6; 7; 8! Yet never were the people lower morally. And so it came out openly when Gideon died; and retribution fell on Abimelech and the men of Shechem (chap. 9).
Afterward as we read in chap. 10 came Tola, and Jair with his thirty sons; but when Israel sank into the worship not only of other strange gods but of those of the Philistine and the Ammonite, Jehovah sold them into the hands of those neighboring peoples; and their cry arose, and His soul was grieved for their misery. Jephthah (ch. 11) the despised became their leader, on whom was the Spirit of Jehovah; and Ammon was subdued. But the haughty men of Ephraim, graciously answered by Gideon, met a severer judge in the Gileadite; after whom came Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon (ch. 12).
A worse relapse brought a stern and nearer chastening from the Philistines. Here therefore the deliverer was a Nazarite separation to Jehovah was the condition of suited mercy. Yet Samson was weak enough morally, and his work more individual, and rather prowess physically, than in any previous case. His strength lay in maintaining the secret of Jehovah; and when he gave it up basely, he became as another man for a while, but his vision gone, till God visited the vain glory of the Philistines with a disaster at his hands greater in his death than the victories of his life (chaps. 13-16).
The tale of Micah in chaps. 17; 18 is not in chronological order, but here given after the history, to lay bare the lawlessness in religious matters which prevailed in the days of the judges; as that in chaps. 19-20 lets us see the frightful demoralization in those days, and the calamities it brought on Israel, when Benjamin was all but extinguished as a tribe. How marvelous the grace which turned their shame to profit, both in self-judgment from God, and in recovery of fraternal affection! Who but Himself could or would thus have lifted the veil off His people for good?