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Judges 1:2:9

12 Or else, if indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations--these that remain among you--and make marriages with them, and go in to them and they to you, 13 know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you. (Joshua 23:12-13)

Warning, warning, warning, don’t hang out with the folks I’ve just put out of the land I’m giving you. God couldn’t have been clearer in His instructions to Israel. God was the one who would drive out the people He had dispossessed, not Israel. But the eviction process would stop if Israel stopped obeying the commands of the Lord. How often are we like Israel? Forget for a moment obeying God’s commands, how often don’t we obey the commands of little ole instruction sheet and then blame our failure to get that “stupid” thing working on the manufacture instead of our failure to obey the directions?

The “Blame Game” that started back in the Garden of Eden, in the Book of Genesis, continues today and it is failure to take responsibility for our own breakdowns to obey the “Word of the Lord. Even Moses participated in that deadly game when he failed to follow God’s instructions. God told Moses and Aaron to speak to the rock when Israel found herself in the Wilderness without water but they struck the rock, not once but twice.

Numbers 20:6-9
6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. 7 The LORD said to Moses, 8 "Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink."

9 So Moses took the staff from the LORD's presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them."

God told Moses and Aaron that it was their own disobedience that would keep them out of the Promise Land, but Moses told the people it was their disobedience that kept him out, The Blame Game.

Deuteronomy 1:
37 "And the LORD was also angry with me because of you. He said to me, `You will never enter the Promised Land! 38 Instead, your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will lead the people into the land. Encourage him as he prepares to enter it.

Israel’s reasons for not getting out the inhabitants were as varied as the number of her tribes and families. She failed to clear out her Promise because she failed to obey and follow after God. Let us strive not to make the same mistakes as Israel, let us strive to obey the Voice of the Lord so that the enemies that live in our hearts will be rooted out not because we are so strong, but because our obedience will allow the Holy Spirit in to do the job we are unable to do.

Judges 2:10-3:31
Mike to answer you question with one word, disobedience. We forget about God because we have failed to take heed of His Words to us. The younger generation fails to remember what God has done for us because we have failed to rehearse in the next generations’ ears all the things that God did for the former generations, and also what he has done for us. Even when we “religiously” go to church, we think that sitting in Sunday school, listening to a message once or twice a week with the family and possibly going to a Bible Study is all we need to do. Yet God said,

Deuteronomy 6 (Amp)
1 NOW THIS is the instruction, the laws, and the precepts which the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land to which you go to possess it,
2 That you may [reverently] fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, and keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.

3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be watchful to do them, that it may be well with you and that you may increase exceedingly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

4 Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord [the only Lord].

5 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being and with all your might.

6 And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then]

7 You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.

8 And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets (forehead bands) between your eyes.

9 And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

10 And when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you, with great and goodly cities which you did not build, 11 And houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and cisterns hewn out which you did not hew, and vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and when you eat and are full, 2 Then beware lest you forget the Lord, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

We have failed to do particularly what the seventh verse tells us, “You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate,”

I like the idea that God will use a temptation to test and train us (Chapter 3), 1 The LORD left certain nations in the land to test those Israelites who had not participated in the wars of Canaan. We need to stop thinking that temptations are to strong for us thus giving ourselves excuses for falling down then failing to get back up, when they really may be reasons for our failures, but not excuses. God has provided a way of escape out of every temptation we have just failed to take them. Maybe if we can remember that a temptation is a test, only a test and God has provided an answer to overcome the test if we just look for it we would find ourselves passing more often. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Grace and peace,

JUDGES 11:29-15:20


JUDGES 11:30, 31
In God’s law, a vow was a promise to God that should not be broken (Numbers 30:1, 2; Deuteronomy 23:21-23). It carried as much force as a written contract. Many people made vows in biblical times. Some, like Jephthah’s, were very foolish.

JUDGES 11:30, 31
When Jephthah made his vow, did he stop to consider that a person, not a sheep or goat, might come out to meet him? Scholars are divided over the issue. Those who say Jephthah was considering human sacrifice use the following arguments: (1) He was from an area where pagan religion and human sacrifice were common. In his eyes, it may not have seemed like a sin. (2) Jephthah may not have had a background in religious law. Perhaps he was ignorant of God’s command against human sacrifice.

Those who say Jephthah could not have been thinking about human sacrifice point to other evidence: (1) As leader of the people, Jephthah must have been familiar with God’s laws; human sacrifice was clearly forbidden (Leviticus 18:21; 20:1-5). (2) No legitimate priest would have helped Jephthah carry out his vow if a person was to be the sacrifice.

Whatever Jephthah had in mind when he made the vow, did he or did he not sacrifice his daughter? Some think he did, because his vow was to make a burnt offering. Some think he did not, and they offer these two reasons: (1) If the girl was to die, she would not have spent her last two months in the hills. (2) God would not have honored a vow based on a wicked practice.

JUDGES 11:34, 35
Jephthah’s rash vow brought him unspeakable grief. In the heat of emotion or personal turmoil it is easy to make foolish promises to God. These promises may sound very spiritual when we make them, but they may produce only guilt and frustration when we are forced to fulfill them. Making spiritual “deals” only brings disappointment. God does not want promises for the future, but obedience for today.

Israel had just won a great battle, but instead of joy, there was pettiness and quarreling. The tribe of Ephraim was angry and jealous that they were not invited to join in the fighting (although Jephthah said he had invited them). The insults of the Ephraimites enraged Jephthah, who called out his troops and killed 42,000 men from Ephraim.
Jephthah usually spoke before he acted, but this time his revenge was swift. It cost Israel dearly, and it might have been avoided. Insulting others and being jealous are not right responses when we feel left out. But seeking revenge for an insult is just as wrong and very costly. Judges 12:1

JUDGES 12:4-7
The men of the tribe of Ephraim caused Jephthah trouble just as they had Gideon (8:1-3). Jephthah captured the shallows of the Jordan, the boundary of Ephraim, and was able to defeat his countrymen as they crossed the river. He used a pronunciation test. Shibboleth is the word for “stream.” The Ephraimites pronounced “sh” as “s,” so Jephthah’s army could easily identify them.

JUDGES 12:8-15
There is little else known about these three judges or their importance. The large number of children and donkeys are an indication of the wealth of these men.

The Philistines lived on the west side of Canaan, along the Mediterranean seacoast. From Samson’s day until the time of David they were the major enemy force in the land and a constant threat to Israel. The Philistines were fierce warriors; they had the advantage over Israel in numbers, tactical expertise, and technology. They knew the secret of making weapons out of iron (1 Samuel 13:19-22). But none of that mattered when God was fighting for Israel.

Once again the cycle of sin, judgment, and repentance began (3:8, 9, 14, 15; 4:1-4; 6:1-14; 10:6–11:11). The Israelites would not turn to God unless they had been stunned by suffering, oppression, and death. This suffering was not caused by God, but resulted from the fact that the people ignored God, their Judge and Ruler. What will it take for you to follow God? The warnings in God’s Word are clear: If we continue to harden our hearts against God, we can expect the same fate as Israel.

Samson was to be a Nazirite—a person who took a vow to be set apart for God’s service. Samson’s parents made the vow for him. A Nazirite vow was sometimes temporary, but in Samson’s case, it was for life. As a Nazirite, Samson could not cut his hair, touch a dead body, or drink anything containing alcohol.

Although Samson often used poor judgment and sinned terribly, he accomplished much when he determined to be set apart for God. In this way he was like the nation Israel. As long as the Israelites remained set apart for God, the nation thrived. But they fell into terrible sin when they ignored God.

JUDGES 13:18
Why did the angel keep his name a secret? In those days people believed that if they knew someone’s name, they knew his character and how to control him. By not giving his name, the angel was not allowing himself to be controlled by Manoah. He was also saying that his name was a mystery beyond understanding and too wonderful to imagine. Manoah asked the angel for an answer that he wouldn’t have understood. Sometimes we ask God questions and then receive no answer. This may not be because God is saying no. We may have asked for knowledge beyond our ability to understand or accept.

JUDGES 13:19
Manoah sacrificed a grain offering to the Lord. A grain offering was grain, oil, and flour shaped into a cake and burned on the altar along with the burnt offering (the young goat). The grain offering, described in Leviticus 2, was offered to God as a sign of honor, respect, and worship. It was an acknowledgment that because the Israelites’ food came from God, they owed their lives to Him. With the grain offering, Manoah showed his desire to serve God and demonstrated his respect.

JUDGES 13:25
Samson’s tribe, Dan, continued to wander in their inherited land (18:1), which was yet unconquered (Joshua 19:47, 48). Samson must have grown up with his warlike tribe’s yearnings for a permanent and settled territory. Thus, his visits to the tribal army camp stirred his heart, and God’s Spirit began preparing him for his role as judge and leader against the Philistines.

Perhaps there are things that stir your heart. These may indicate areas where God wants to use you. God uses a variety of means to develop and prepare us: hereditary traits, environmental influences, and personal experiences. As with Samson, this preparation often begins long before adulthood. Work at being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and the tasks God has prepared for you. Your past may be more useful to you than you imagine.

Samson’s parents objected to his marrying the Philistine woman for several reasons: (1) It was against God’s law (Exodus 34:15-17; Deuteronomy 7:1-4). A stark example of what happened when the Israelites married pagans can be found in 3:5-7. (2) The Philistines were Israel’s greatest enemies. Marriage to a hated Philistine would be a disgrace to Samson’s family. But Samson’s father gave in to Samson’s demand and allowed the marriage, even though he had the right to refuse his son.

“The Spirit of the LORD powerfully took control of him” refers to the unusual physical strength given him by the Spirit of the Lord. Samson did not seem to be affected in any other way than increased physical strength.

JUDGES 14:18
“If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer” means “If you had not manipulated my wife.” If they hadn’t threatened his wife, they wouldn’t have learned the answer to his riddle.

JUDGES 14:19
Samson impulsively used the special gift God gave him for selfish purposes. Today, God distributes abilities and skills throughout the church (1 Corinthians 12:1ff). The apostle Paul states that these gifts are to be used “to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). To use these abilities for selfish purposes is to rob the church and fellow believers of strength. As you use the gifts God has given you, be sure you are helping others, not just yourself.

Samson’s reply in 15:11 tells the story of this chapter: “I only paid them back for what they did to me.” Revenge is an uncontrollable monster. Each act of retaliation brings another. It is a boomerang that cannot be thrown without cost to the thrower. The revenge cycle can be halted only by forgiveness.

JUDGES 15:14-17
The Lord’s strength came upon Samson, but he was proud and boasted only of his own strength. “With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve killed a thousand men,” he said. Pride can cause us to take credit for work we’ve done only because of God’s strength.

JUDGES 15:18
Samson was physically and emotionally exhausted. After a great personal victory, his attitude declined quickly into self-pity—“Must I now die of thirst?” Emotionally, we are most vulnerable after a great effort or when faced with real physical needs. Severe depression often follows great achievements, so don’t be surprised if you feel drained after a personal victory.

During these times of vulnerability, avoid the temptation to think that God owes you for your efforts. It was His strength that gave you victory. Concentrate on keeping your attitudes, actions, and words focused on God instead of yourself.

JUDGES 15:20
Apparently Samson was appointed Israel’s judge after this victory over the Philistines.

(Life Application Commentary)

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