Thoughts on Judges 11

We’re reading through Judges at Oak Tree Church, and I’m posting some observations from my daily readings here within a day or two after the reading. I’d love for you to join in the discussion.

Thoughts on Judges 11

So here is the continuation of yesterday’s story in chapter 10.

They said, “Come, be our commander, so we can fight with the Ammonites.” Jephthah said to the leaders of Gilead, “But you hated me and made me leave my father’s house. Why do you come to me now, when you are in trouble?” Judges 11:6-7 NET

This sounds a lot like the conversation God had with Israel in 10:11-16 – “Why do you come to me now, only when you need me?”

Jephthah sent messengers back to the Ammonite king and said to him, “This is what Jephthah says, ‘Israel did not steal the land of Moab and the land of the Ammonites.'” Judges 11:14-15 NET

This whole section (11:14-28) is basically a history lesson. Instead of just going into battle, Jephthah makes a wise leadership move: find out what the other side is thinking. Once he knew where they were coming from he could try a peaceful solution to the problem. It doesn’t always work out that way (like here), but it’s a great first step.

Secondly, had he not known Israel’s history for the previous 300 years, he would not have been able to answer as wisely as he did. The Ammonite king was clearly in the wrong, and it gave Jephthah more credibility with his followers.

Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, saying, “If you really do hand the Ammonites over to me, then whoever is the first to come through the doors of my house to meet me when I return safely from fighting the Ammonites– he will belong to the LORD and I will offer him up as a burnt sacrifice.” Judges 11:30-31 NET

This passage throws people for a loop frequently. “Did he really do it? How could God allow that?” Notice a couple of points here:

  1. God was going to give the victory anyway. (Jephthah said, “If you really do…”) He did not command or require Jephthah to make this vow or do this thing.
  2. Solomon said, “It is better for you not to vow than to vow and not pay it” (Ecclesiastes 5:5). Even though God does not accept human sacrifice as worship, he also does not accept broken vows made to him.

Jephthah put himself in an unenviable position because of his foolish and rash vow. Some principles we should take away from this story are: 1) Many times the pain we experience in life is purely of our own doing; and 2) Sometimes God let’s us do stupid stuff just so we can learn to not do stupid stuff.

What did you see in these verses? What was important to you in Judges 11 that I did not see?

Thoughts on Judges 10

We’re reading through Judges at Oak Tree Church, and I’m posting some observations from my daily readings here within a day or two after the reading. I’d love for you to join in the discussion.

Thoughts on Judges 10

I considered writing about Judges 10 and 11 in the same post. I read them together because it’s all a part of the same story. But my notes on chapter 11 got a little long, so I decided to keep them as two posts. So just one thought for chapter 10.

The LORD said to the Israelites, “Did I not deliver you from Egypt, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, Amalek, and Midian when they oppressed you? You cried out for help to me, and I delivered you from their power. But since you abandoned me and worshiped other gods, I will not deliver you again. Go and cry for help to the gods you have chosen! Let them deliver you from trouble!” But the Israelites said to the LORD, “We have sinned. You do to us as you see fit, but deliver us today!” They threw away the foreign gods they owned and worshiped the LORD. Finally the LORD grew tired of seeing Israel suffer so much. Judges 10:11-16 NET

Sometimes people wonder why God doesn’t show up in their lives. It seems to me that he doesn’t like to be used. We forget that God has emotion, too, and that we can hurt him like a rebellious child hurts his father.

Is your relationship with God an abusive one, where you use him when you need him and then forget him to move on to someone or something else?

What did you see in these verses? What was important to you in Judges 10 that I did not see?

Thoughts on Judges 9

We’re reading through Judges at Oak Tree Church, and I’m posting some observations from my daily readings here within a day or two after the reading. I’d love for you to join in the discussion.

Thoughts on Judges 9

Now Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to Shechem to see his mother’s relatives. He said to them and to his mother’s entire extended family… Judges 9:1 NET

I wonder if this story would have been any different had Gideon (Jerub-Baal) simply not named his son “Abimelech” (meaning “my father is king”). Did Abimelech – who was not a legitimate heir – feel entitled to something because of Gideon’s stupid decision to name him that?

The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to choose me as your king, then come along, find safety under my branches! Otherwise may fire blaze from the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’ Judges 9:15 NET

Jotham’s parable has a great principle about leadership. The first three plants the trees asked to be king (olive tree, fig tree, grapevine) all said essentially the same thing: “In order for me to lead you, I would have to stop my daily tasks and rise to the occasion, but this would not be beneficial to me or you.”

The thornbush, on the other hand, replied, “If you want me to be your leader, you come down to my level, but I’m not going to change.” God has not wired everyone to be a leader, but those he has will be willing to step up to it.

Abimelech commanded Israel for three years. Judges 9:22 NET

The change of words is significant here. All of the other leaders of Israel so far are said to have “judged” or “delivered” or “ruled” Israel for a period of time. Abimelech “commanded” Israel, and it wasn’t for very long.

When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home. Judges 9:55 NET

Such an anticlimactic end to the story. Not one Bible translation I read even tries to make it look like they ran home scared. It’s a simple statement of fact: their leader died, so they went home (ready to follow the next whomever could buy their loyalty).

What did you see in these verses? What was important to you in Judges 9 that I did not see?