Wow, is my first reaction after finishing reading the book of Judges.
Othniel, Gideon, Samson, Shamgar, Deborah, Jephthah, Ehud these are the names of the seven Judges God raised up in the history of Israel. It was a time when Israel had no King and time when the bible repeatedly mentions “everyone did as they saw fit”. It was a time when apostasy was king among the people, all acts of vile and wicked behaviour were the norm and seen as acceptable. The tribes warred amongst themselves and killed thousands of their own people. Yet in all this when Israel a nation that had seen the wonders of the Almighty God, forgot what He had done for them, but God sent them Judges. They were great leaders with abilities to rule and protect Israel from their oppressors.
The theme of the book of Judges is quite clear after everything God had done, they did not remember and repeatedly turned from the Lord to go back to their sinful ways. But God, who made a covenant with Abraham and claimed Israel as His own, did not give up on them.
Every time they turned back, a Judge was brought up to remind them of the covenant they have with the Lord God Almighty and so back and forth it went.
After hundreds of years of disobedience and repentance one would think God would have given up on the Israelites but God who is so faithful and full of love and mercy never did. Instead He pours out mercy, grace and love on a people who are so undeserving. When they turned back to Him He never once turned His back on them.
One of my favourite parts of Judges in the story of Sampson. At this time Sampson had told Delilah the cause of his supernatural strength (his hair) and she conspired with his enemies the Philistines. So at night as Sampson slept she cut his hair called the Philistines, they seized him, gorged out his eyes and tied him up in shackles. Their trap had worked but the bible says “But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved” Judges 16:22. Just when Sampson thought their was no hope left he cried out to God the account reads;
“Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. Then Samson prayed to the Lord, ‘Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.’ Then Samson reached towards the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
Although, his ending was tragic Sampson remembered God and in doing so God did not turn His back on him. Though Sampson died God saved Israel through this monumental event and he killed more Philistines when he died then when he was alive.
I believe the book of Judges teaches us to remember our God. If the Israelite’s had remembered they would not have gotten into some of the situations they were in. It also teaches us that, no matter how far we are, if we make the decision to turn back to our Lord He will never turn us away. The book is also a great depiction of the character of God and, most evidently, his great mercy. Even after all the vile behaviour and wicked practices God still showed unending mercy to His people. What a wonderful God we serve.