Judges Commentaries & Sermons

Judges Commentary, Sermon, Illustration, Devotional

Chart from recommended resource Jensen's Survey of the OT - used by permission
Chart on Judges - Charles Swindoll

(The High Cost of Compromise)

Jdg 1:1-3:6 Jdg 3:7-16:31 Jdg 17:1-21:25
Introduction History of the Judges Appendix
Causes of the


Curse of the


Conditions in
the Cycles


Failure to Complete Conquest Jdg 1:1-36
God's Judgment for
Failure Jdg 2:1-3:6
Curse of the
Conditions in
the Cycles
Living with
War with the
Living Like the
About 350 Years of Israel's History - Almost 25%!
From Compromise to Confusion!
"in the days when the JUDGES governed"
(Note: All dates are approximations & time gaps NOT to scale)
Exodus 40 Years Israel Enters Canaan JUDGES Saul David   Messiah

Redemption from Slavery

Wilderness Wandering

Canaan Conquered
Joshua Dies

LIGHT of book of RUTH
Shines forth
in Dark Days of Judges

To obey is better than sacrifice

Man after God's Own Heart

The Lamb that was slain

-- 40 yrs ~24 yrs

350+ yrs

40 yrs 40 yrs Forever
MESSIAH'S LINE   To Salmon was born Boaz by Rahab To Boaz was born Obed by Ruth To Obed was born Jesse To Jesse was born David the King Jesus Christ the Lord

1445 -1405

1405 -1381


1051-1011 1011-971 4AD

Another Timeline of Israel's History
Click to Enlarge

from Jensen's Survey of the OT

Click to Enlarge

Other ways to describe Israel's cycle…

  • Rest > Rebellion > Retribution > Repentance > Restoration
  • Sin > Suffering/Servitude > Supplication > Salvation
  • Apathy > Apostasy > Affliction > Answered Prayer
  • Disobedience > Desperation > Deliverance

The Book of Judges
Contrasted with
The Book of Joshua

Victory Defeat
Freedom Servitude
Faith Unbelief
Progress Declension
Spiritual vision Earthly emphasis
Fidelity to the Lord Apostasy from the Lord
Joy Sorrow
Strength Weakness
Sense of unity Declension, anarchy
Sin judged Sin lightly regarded

The New Unger's Bible Handbook- Merrill F. Unger - page 129

The Book of Judges
Contrasted with
The Book of Ruth

Purity Immorality
Deciding for
the One true God
Pursuing Idols
who are no gods
Devotion Disloyalty
Love Lust
Peace War
Kindness Cruelty
brings blessing
brings sorrow
of righteousness
of rebellion
of a Gentile alien
of the "chosen people"

Key Verses:

Jdg 2:19, 20-21-note, Jdg 17:6-note, Jdg 21:25-note (cf Dt 12:8)

Key Words (NAS95):

Sons of evil (again) did evil - 5x/5v (Jdg 2:11; 3:12; 4:1; 10:6; 13:1)

Serve* - 17x/14v (Jdg 2:7, 11, 13, 19; 3:6ff, 14; 9:28, 38; 10:6, 10, 13, 16)

Sons of Israel cried - 7x/7v (Jdg 3:9, 15; 4:3; 6:6, 7; 10:10, 12)

LORD raised up - 4x/4v (Jdg 2:16, 18; 3:9, 15)

Judge, judged - 20x/16v (Jdg 2:16, 17, 18; 3:10; 10:2, 3, 11:27; 12:7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14; 15:20; 16:31)

Deliver, delivered, deliverance, deliverer - 28x/27v (Jdg 2:16, 18; 3:9, 15; 6:9, 14, 15, 31, 36, 37; 7:2, 7; 8:22, 34; 9:17; 10:11, 12, 13; 12:2, 3; 13:5; 15:18; 18:28; 20:13, 28)

Covenant - 4x/4v (Jdg 2:1-2, 20; 20:27)

Chart of Judges -

Judge Reference Tribe Oppressor Period of Oppression Period of Rest Total Length of Time*
Othniel 3:7–11 Judah Mesopotamians 8 years (3:8) 40 years (3:11) 48 years
Ehud 3:12–30 Benjamin Moabites 18 years (3:14) 80 years (3:30) 98 years
Shamgar 3:31   Philistines      
Deborah chs. 4–5 Ephraim Canaanites 20 years (4:3) 40 years (5:31) 60 years
Gideon chs. 6–8 Manasseh Midianites 7 years (6:1) 40 years (8:28) 47 years
Tola 10:1–2 Issachar     23 years (10:2) 23 years
Jair 10:3–5 Gilead-Manasseh     22 years (10:3) 22 years
Jephthah 10:6–12:7 Gilead-Manasseh Ammonites   24 years (10:8; 12:7) 24 years
Ibzan 12:8–10 Judah or Zebulun?     7 years (12:9) 7 years
Elon 12:11–12 Zebulun     10 years (12:11) 10 years
Abdon 12:13–15 Ephraim     8 years (12:14) 8 years
Samson chs. 13–16 Dan Philistines 40 years (13:1) 20 years (15:20; 16:31) 60 years

*Added together, the dates in this column total about 410 years. However, many of the episodes in Judges overlap each other, unfolding in different parts of the land. (Source)

C H Ryrie - Purpose of Judges Historically, the book serves to link the conquest of Palestine and the monarchy. Theologically, it provides many examples of the principle that obedience to the law brings peace, whereas disobedience means oppression and death. Spiritually, the faithfulness of God in forgiving His penitent people is seen even in this period when "every man did what was right in his own eyes" (Jdg 17:6; 21:25).

J Sidlow Baxter - Failure Through Compromise - Its (Book of Judges) intent is to expose the cause and course of Israel’s ruining downgrade in such a way as to sting the national conscience into repentant return to Jehovah… Incomplete mastery of an evil at the outset always means constant trouble from it afterwards, and often defeat by it in the end… Would that we might erase from the tablets of Israel's history the many dark doings and sad happenings which make up the bulk of this seventh book of the canon! But alas, the sin of Israel is written "with a pen of iron and with the point of a diamond. "Though Israel wash herself "with nitre" and take "much soap," yet is her iniquity here marked for all time and for all to see. Says Jehovah, long afterwards, through His prophet Jeremiah: "I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof - but when ye entered ye defiled My land, and made My heritage an abomination" (Jer 2:7). As we cannot obliterate the tragic record, let us be quick to learn from it; for although it is such a pathetic anticlimax to the book of Joshua, it is nevertheless one of the richest books of Scripture in the salutary lessons and examples which it contains. (Explore the Book- J. Sidlow Baxter)

Thomas Constable has a number of excellent quotes - Arthur Cundall suggested that one of the purposes of Judges may have been to provide apologetic justification for Israel's monarchy. William Dumbrell believed its purpose was primarily to show the sovereign grace of God in preserving Israel in spite of Israel. Leon Wood wrote that its primary purpose was to show why Israel did not experience God's promised blessings. Herbert Wolf believed the primary purpose was to show that Israel's spiritual condition determined its political and material situation. Daniel Block argued that it was to reveal the Canaanization of Israel in the pre-monarchic period of Israel's history. David Howard wrote that the purpose was "to show the consequences of disobedience to God and to point the way to a king, who, if he were righteous, would lead the people to God." All these explanations seem to me to be in harmony with what the book records." (See Constable's excellent introductory comments, about 9 pages - Judges)

Warren Wiersbe - Wiersbe: The nation of Israel quickly decayed after a new generation took over, a generation that knew neither Joshua nor Joshua’s God … Instead of exhibiting spiritual fervor, Israel sank into apathy; instead of obeying the Lord, the people moved into apostasy; and instead of the nation enjoying law and order, the land was filled with anarchy. Indeed, for Israel it was the worst of times.

Gary Inrig applies the message of Judges to America - In our time, the winds of the “me generation” are blowing a strong and deadly virus. “Doing your own thing” has been enshrined as the national life-style, and the virus of relativism has infected every area of life, especially our concepts of spiritual truth and moral absolutes. Our society is increasingly secular, increasingly pagan, and vigorously anti-Christian. If ever a verse of the Bible has the ring of the twentieth century about it, it is the motto of the times of the judges: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”… The book of Judges is filled with people very much like us – people with God-given potential for greatness and unfailing capacity for catastrophe. When they dared to trust God and depend upon Him, they were indeed people with hearts of iron, who made a positive, godly impact on their times. But when even the greatest heroes depended upon the flesh, they were revealed as people with feet of clay, who not only experienced but caused spiritual catastrophe. (Hearts of Iron, Feet of Clay- Practical and Contemporary Lessons from the Book of Judges- Dr. Gary Inrig - see the reader comments to which I would add - Highly Recommended especially if you are going to teach or preach through Judges!)

Henrietta Mears - Someone has called the book of Judges the account of the Dark Ages of the Israelite people. The people forsook God (Jdg 2:13) and God forsook the people (Jdg 2:23). Robert Ingersoll (American Agnostic) spoke much of "the liberty of man, woman and child." His was a godless liberty. The modern equivalent is "doing our own thing." You see this in the book of Judges. Judges covers the period after the death of their great leader, Joshua, to the ascension of Saul to the throne of Israel… The book of Judges is in a way another book of beginnings where we see a new nation adjusting her national life. It is filled with struggle and disasters, but also with the moral courage of a select few. There is a decided monotony in the description of each successive stage of sin in Israel, but there is an equally remarkable variety in the instruments and methods of deliverance God used. There is something different in the story of each judge. There are fourteen judges—Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Samson, Eli and Samuel. (Abimelech, a petty ruler, was not called of God to judge.) There were three types of Judges: The warrior-judges as Gideon and Samson; Priest-judges as Eli; Prophet-judges as Deborah and Samuel. The chief judges were Deborah, Gideon, Samson and Samuel… The book begins with compromise and ends with confusion. This is what happens in every unsurrendered life!… One thing we learn in the book of Judges is that a people who spend much of their time in disobedience to God make little progress during their lifetime. The book of Numbers recounts the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, but this book repeats again and again a record of departure from God… Here is an outline for Judges that is easy to remember. "Seven apostasies, seven servitudes to seven idolatrous and cruel nations, seven deliverances!" We read of humans' constant failure and God's constant mercy. (What the Bible is All About)

Ray Stedman - Judges is essentially the story of a deteriorating nation, and as such, it is a picture for us of deteriorating Christian life… "These things," as the apostle Paul says, "were written down for our instruction." (1Corinthians 10:11) God retraces in our lives the very circumstances, the very battles, and the very conflicts that we find Israel going through. In Joshua, the land of Canaan is the picture of the Spirit-filled life… (In Judges) The principle that always meant defeat in the lives of the nation of Israel is given to us in the very last verse of the book. If you miss that, you miss the key to the book: In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25) Notice that it does not say, "Every man did what was wrong in his own eyes." These people were not trying to do wrong. They were not essentially rebellious people determined to thwart the will of God in their lives. At this stage of Israel's history these people were very determined to do right, but they were trying to do what was right in their own eyes. The pattern of peril in this book of Judges can be simply put this way -- they were given over to the folly of consecrated blundering. They were consecrated, dedicated blunderers -- meaning to do right but ending up all wrong. I can tell you that no pattern repeats itself more frequently in my counseling sessions than this. Many, many times I have heard people say, "Oh, I don't know what went wrong. I meant to do right. I did what I thought was best. But everything seemed to go wrong."… The great lesson of this book, then, is that we must take God seriously about the enemy. Jesus Christ has come to save us from our sins -- not to allow us to settle down to live all our lives with them. He has come to drive them out from us and to separate us from them. If we do not take God seriously about these things that we call trivial we will experience an inevitable sequence, taking us step by step away from the intervening grace of God, onward to a course that brings us at last to moral collapse. I think this is the answer to those sudden moral collapses of men and women who have apparently been outstanding leaders for God, who present, on the outside at least, a fair and happy prospect that looks as though their spiritual life is strong. Then suddenly we read of some terrible moral collapse. What has happened? There has been an inward deterioration, exactly along the pattern of the book of Judges. (Overview of Judges- The Pattern of Defeat - Recommended)

Charles R Swindoll - Ironically, in this book we meet many heroes of faith: Othniel, Gideon, Samson, Shamgar, Deborah, Jephthah, Ehud … flawed individuals who answered God’s call to deliver the Israelites in sometimes dramatic form. The book includes many of the most graphic, violent, and disturbing scenes in all Scripture—some in the name of righteousness, others in the name of evil. The primary message of Judges is that God will not allow sin to go unpunished. As Exodus established, Israel was God’s people—He was their King… The people’s inability to resist sinful Canaanite influences eventually revealed their desire for a centralized monarchy, led by a righteous king whom God would choose as His intermediary. How do I apply this? Memory is a gift. Remembering the past teaches us countless lessons about how to live today. The Israelites forgot. They did not remember the miraculous events that brought them to their land or the covenant that united them to their God. But God did not forget His covenant—and because of His great love for His people, He disciplined His sinful children so that they might return to Him. Have you forgotten the great works God has done in your life? Perhaps your difficult circumstances are overpowering your faith. Do you feel as if He is disciplining you right now? Know that He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:5–11). Return to Him. Remember, trust, and obey. He is waiting with open arms. (Insight for Living Ministries)

Judges - Driving Out Your Enemies - Precept Ministries International — Inductive Bible Study  Today, as in the days of Judges, everyone does what is right in his own eyes! Absolutes and traditions are pushed aside. Many feel oppressed. The book of Judges is God's Word for our day of apathy and apostasy. 7 lessons ( Click for discussion of the value of Inductive Study)

Verse by Verse
Bruce Hurt, MD

To the Book of Judges

Commentary on Judges

Recommended Resource

Commentary Notes on Judges

Teaching Notes
Book of Judges

Book of Judges

Judges Illustrations

Anecdotes, Similes, Expository, Sermons, Homilies, etc

Judges Sermon Notes

Judges Notes

Spurgeon: Like other works of this author—of considerable value.

Cyril Barber -  A pleasing synthesis of scholarship and devotion, historical background and relevant exposition. Bible students, whether laypeople or pastors, should eagerly acquire the writings of this fine biblical scholar and for their own edification and enrichment read what he wrote. This valuable reprint of the 1852 edition makes available the rare and rich homiletic suggestions of this Princeton scholar.

Book of Judges

John James Lias
Book of Judges

Judges Sermon Notes

Judges Sermon Notes

Calvary Chapel of Fullerton

Judges Commentary

See caveat regarding his interpretative approach

Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. 1871

Commentary Notes
The Book of Judges

Conservative, Millennial

Note: The commentary below does not include the well done introductory comments and a nice map by Dr Constable which can be retrieved by clicking here for his Pdf of Judges

Judges Sermon Notes

Judges Commentary

Judges Sermon Notes

Sermon Notes

"The Dark Days of Israel's Judges - A Study of the Book of Judges"


Introduction Judges 1 Judges 2 Judges 3
Judges 4 Judges 5 Judges 6 Judges 7
Judges 8 Judges 9 Judges 10 Judges 11
Judges 12 Judges 13 Judges 14 Judges 15
Judges 16 Judges 17 Judges 18 Judges 19
Judges 20 Judges 21

Judges Commentary 
 Robert A Watson, D. D.


Judges - An Expository Commentary

Cyril Barber - A work of immeasurable value. Remains one of the finest treatments extant. A must for the expositor.

Well Done If part of a page does not show switch to the two page view or try "refresh" (F5 Key)

Annotated Bible
on Judges


These are short videos with practical principles.

  • Judges 1:1-2; Consulting God: To make right decisions, we are first and foremost to consult God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Video
  • Judges 1:17-19; Partial Obedience: We should guard against our human tendency to retreat when we face difficult challenges. Video
  • Judges 1:20-36; Tests of Faith: We should view various difficulties in our walk with God as opportunities to demonstrate our faithfulness. Video
  • Judges 2:1-5; Forsaking Sin: When we persist in sin, we must understand that we are offending God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Video
  • Judges 2:6-13; Modeling and Teaching: Adults are to model and teach God's will to the younger generation. Video
  • Judges 2:14-15; God's Discipline: When we persistently disobey God, He will discipline us in order to help us live more godly lives. Video
  • Judges 2:16-18; God's Compassion: Though the Lord will eventually judge all those who ultimately reject His gift of salvation, we should be assured that He is a God of love, mercy, and forgiveness. Video
  • Judges 2:19-23; Internalizing God's Values: With God's help we are to internalize biblical values. Video
  • Judges 3:1-11; Spiritual Leadership: We should always select and appoint leaders in the church who are qualified spiritually. Video
  • Judges 4:1-24;Leadership Qualities: When appointing women to leadership positions in the church, we should take seriously the maturity profile outlined specifically for them. Video
  • Judges 6:1-13;  Blaming God: We should not blame God for our misfortunes when weve caused these problems through our flagrant disobedience. Video
  • Judges 6:14-16; Overcoming Intimidation: Even if we lack status and position in the Christian community, we are to trust God to use us to carry out His work in this world. Video
  • Judges 6:17-40; Determining God's Will: We must be very cautious in asking God to verify what He has already made clear in His direct revelation in Scripture. Video
  • Judges 7:1-23; Quality versus Quantity: In measuring success and doing God's work, we are to focus on quality rather than quantity. Video
  • Judges 8:22-35; Thinking Consistently: To make decisions that glorify God, we must develop a value system that is consistent with God's character. Video
  • Judges 9:1-57; Reciprocal Experiences: We are to treat others fairly and justly or God may discipline us by allowing what we have done to others to happen to us. Video
  • Judges 10:6-18; Light in the Darkness: Followers of Jesus Christ are to view the decadence that surrounds them as an opportunity to be God's light in the darkness. Video
  • Judges 13:1-16:31; Stories that Teach: When we read biblical stories of peoples lives, we should look for the lessons we can learn from both their successes and their failures. Video
  • Judges 17:1-13;  Religious Syncretism: We must be extremely cautious that we never combine pagan concepts with true biblical values. Video
  • Judges 19:1-30; Addressing Evil: As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to confront evil but always in biblical ways. Video
  • Judges 21:25; A Primary Responsibility: We should pray regularly for government leaders so that we might live in a peaceful environment that is conducive to sharing the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Video


Have also included selected articles from Fausset's Bible Dictionary which is an older but excellent resource.

Judges Commentary

Sermons on Judges

Commentary on Judges

Judges Commentary

Brief Notes from Conservative, Evangelical, Millennial Perspective

Poor Man's Commentary

Judges Sermons

Judges Commentary

"The Preacher's Commentary"
Book of Judges
by Various Authors

Rich Resource - Check it out. (E.g. 120 pages of notes on Judges 3!)

Relating to Judges

Judges Commentary
George F Moore

Sermons on Judges

Commentary on the Old Testament

Spurgeon on Keil & Delitzsch: We cannot read Keil with pleasure, for we want spiritual meat, but yet it is most desirable for us to know what the text really means. Without indicating either the spiritual lesson or the moral of the history, Keil simply explains the facts, and in so doing aids the reader to realize them. We confess we should like something more. A work for the learned. It has received the highest commendations from competent scholars. But it is somewhat dull and formal.

Indexed by Chapter

Today in the Word, Back to the Bible, Our Daily Bread, et al

Studies on Judges

From his Daily Bible Illustrations & The Pictorial Bible on the Old Testament

C H Spurgeon comments of John Kitto's work on Judges writing that it is "Exceedingly meritorious. Refer to it frequently." High praise from the prince of preachers! (Commenting and commentaries)

The Popular Commentary

Lutheran Perspective

Judges Commentary
Paulus Cassel

Sermons on Judges

Judges Sermons

Judges Commentary
Thru the Bible

Mp3 Audio

Introduction Judges 1 Judges 2 Judges 3
Judges 4 Judges 5 Judges 6 Judges 7
Judges 8 Judges 9 Judges 10 Judges 11
Judges 12 Judges 13 Judges 14 Judges 15
Judges 16 Judges 17 Judges 18 Judges 19
Judges 20

Our Daily Homily

Additional Commentary from F B Meyer


Rosscup comments: Meyer (1847–1929) published this originally in 1895. He left a big witness as a Christian, husband and expositor on the spiritual life. Here he is clear, simple, to the point, and practical in application. The book is especially suited for pastors, Sunday School teachers and laypersons. Sometimes he overdoes things, as in seeing Hittites and confederates as depicting “The evil habits of the old past” (p 12). Yet in many cases he is apt, as using Gideon to show the need to look to God for adequacy. He sees Saul as unsaved, having the Spirit on him but not in him (Commentaries for Biblical Expositors: An annotated bibliography of selected works)

Conservative, Evangelical



Rosscup comments: An evangelical contributes 586 pp. on Judges and 151 on Ruth. Introductory sections for both books survey the state of scholarly opinion and his belief in the integrity and reliability of the biblical books. Copious footnotes, often lengthy, reflect on others’ views, verifications of points in the books and also in other scripture, etc. Verse by verse work offers detail on grammar, word meaning, background, customs, and interpretive problems. Block holds that Jephthah sacrificed his daughter in death. On passages overall, this is a standout commentary, yet at times it states convictions without a specific answer to other leading views. One instance is in not commenting on the view that Ruth acted indecently with Boaz at night. Some accounts, as episodes of Samson, seem for the most part to be explained in reasonable detail. (Commentaries for Biblical Expositors: An annotated bibliography of selected works)

Rosscup comments: A flowing, popular conservative exposition that can be suggestive for pastors on individual messages or series. Davis deals with problems in footnotes. He keeps the vital message foremost and points out the relevance to today. The book is usually refreshing to help one grow in grace. Davis keeps spotlighting the beauty of God. Cf. also his book on Joshua.

My comment: Anything on the Old Testament by Dale Davis is worth consulting if you are teaching or preaching because he does such a wonderful job of making the OT text applicable and practical to NT saints!

Rosscup comments: This is an outstanding work by a firm evangelical scholar. The book discusses in detail many of the key problems expositors need help on in the book, It provides solid help in understanding the main aspects of most sections. It is one of the most valuable books on the period of the Judges and on character sketches of the main judges.

Comment: This little book is a "sleeper" and has flown under the radar of many evangelicals. I highly recommend it to supplement your teaching and/or preaching through the Book of Judges. Notice that all the reviewers have given it the highest rating possible..

See also:

Cyril Barber - The Minster's Library recommendations (Volume 2 and Volume 3)

  • Auld, A. Graeme. Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. Daily Study Bible. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984. †Auld writes out of the conviction that these books are the Bible's prime witness to Israel's early history in Canaan. He expounds the text skillfully and incorporates important historical, linguistic, and archaeological information into his discussion. 
  • Barber, Cyril John. Judges: A Narrative of God’s Power. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2004. First published in 1990. James Rosscup, in his Commentaries for Biblical Expositors, wrote: “[This is] a well-organized conservative exposition arising out of much study and skill in showing how alive biblical passages are…. Barber uses captivating headlines for sections, a vivid flow, arousing descriptions, analogies, illustrations, and applications. He deals with many problems awarely, using notes that sometimes are lengthy and meaty…. He is competent, thoughtprovoking, and often sharp in exposing the timeliness of the book for life today.”
  • Block, Daniel. Judges, Ruth. Vol. 6: New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1999. An exceedingly valuable exegetical and theological exposition. Based on the NIV, though Block gives evidence of working from the Hebrew text. Readers will find this a learned, discerning discussion that readily explains the meaning and message of these twin books. Recommended.
  • Boling, Robert G. Judges. The Anchor Bible. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co., 1975. A new translation with scholarly notes and commentary. Neither as helpful to the expository preacher as Fausset's exemplary treatment, nor as abreast of the latest scholarly research as Wood's invaluable work. What is presented, however, is valuable for its correlation of linguistic and historical data.
  • *Bush, George. Joshua and judges (click here). Minneapolis: Klock & Klock Christian Publishers, 1981. These formerly separate studies have now been combined into one volume. They provide a pleasing synthesis of scholarship and devotion, historical background and relevant exposition. Bible students, whether laypeople or pastors, should eagerly acquire the writings of this fine biblical scholar and for their own edification and enrichment read what he wrote. This valuable reprint of the 1852 edition makes available the rare and rich homiletic suggestions of this Princeton scholar.
  • Campbell, Donald Keith. Judges: Leaders in Crisis Times. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1989. A well-informed, judicious exposition that combines a timely handling of the text with a practical application of it. Ideal for adult discussion groups. Recommended.
  • Enns, Paul P Bible Study Commentary: Judges. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982. A practical, clearly outlined, conservative treatment. Ideal for laypeople.
  • Fausset, Andrew Robert. (click here) A Critical and Expository Commentary on the Book of Judges. Minneapolis: James & Klock Publishing Co., 1977. A work of immeasurable value. Remains one of the finest treatments extant. A must for the expositor. One of the finest expositions on Judges available today. Deals fairly with interpretative problems. Of great value to the expository preacher. Recommended.
  • Garstang, John. Joshua Judges: The Foundations of Bible History. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1978. Reprinted after years of neglect, this epochal work treats history, geography, archaeology, and the settlement of Israel in the land. Though he adheres to a modified form of the documentary hypothesis, Garstang's treatment is nevertheless possessed of a freshness and vitality seldom found in works of this nature.
  • Goslinga, C. J. Joshua, Judges, Ruth. Bible Students Commentary. Translated by R. Togtman. Grand Rapids: Regency Reference Library, 1987. Brief, perceptive comments on each verse of these canonical books. Adheres to the standard evangelical interpretation of major critical issues. In applying the text to life, Goslinga follows a typological approach. As a commentary, this work serves as a handy guide to laypeople studying these books for the first time. Pastors and lay preachers may find the outlines helpful.
  • Gray, John. Joshua, Judges and Ruth. New Century Bible. Greenwood, S.C.: Attic Press, 1967. †A highly critical treatment.
  • Gray, John. Joshua, Judges, Ruth. New Century Bible. Revised ed. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1986. Based upon the text of the RSV. This is a complete revision of the author's earlier commentary. In this work Gray incorporates some new conclusions which he has reached since his 1967 study appeared. He now includes a section in which he puts forth his thesis that there was a gradual growth on the part of the people of Israel from the militant core of worshippers of Yahweh which became localized in Ephraim, to a wider group including an underprivileged proletariat attracted by the social ethic of the "new faith." The fact that this thesis cannot be maintained from evidence within the books of Joshua and Judges does not stop Gray from presenting his ideas as if they were some new revelation.
  • Hamlin, E. John. At Risk in the Promised Land: A Commentary on the Book of Judges. International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990. A fresh, original, imaginative commentary. Each chapter concludes with "Perspectives" on the text that take the form of reflections on the historic context.
  • Jordan, James B. Judges: God's War Against Humanism. Tyler, Tex.: Geneva Ministries, 1985. Draws a parallel between OT Baalism and the contemporary allurement of humanism. Relates this to the decline in spirituality. Though Jordan follows a literal interpretation of the text, he resorts to allegorism/symbolism when applying the text. And though his observations are useful, his comments should not be accepted uncritically. On the positive side, Jordan goes a long way toward reviving interest in this OT work, and he challenges our thinking in new and different ways.
  • *Lang, John Marshall, and Thomas Kirk. Studies in the Book ofJudges. 2 vols. in 1. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock Christian Publishers, 1983. Though all conservative believers boldly affirm that the Bible exists in sixtysix books, most relegate the teaching of portions of judges to the early Sunday school years. Not so with the able Scots who took on the task of explaining the relevancy of this section of Scripture to our lives. Lang concentrates on Gideon, with incidental comments on the other judges. Kirk focuses attention on Samson. Together they provide a satisfying work that covers the material and shows to readers how the incidents of the OT find a parallel in our day.
  • Lindars, Barnabas. Judges 1--5: A New Translation and Commentary. Edited by A. D. H. Mayes. International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T. And T. Clark, 1995. Lindars died before completing his exegetical commentary on Judges. What he has provided is a detailed, technical exposition that follows the Hebrew text verse-by-verse and phrase-by-phrase.
  • Martin, James D. The Book of Judges. Cambridge Bible Commentary. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1975. Based on the NEB, this work follows the pattern of the series. The author repeatedly calls in question the historicity of the events, expresses doubt over the Samson narrative, and believes that sun mythology underlies much of what is recorded. Unreliable.
  • Mayes, A. D. H. Israel in the Period of the Judges. Studies in Biblical Theology, Secand Series. London: SCM Press, 1974. †This attack on Noth's amphictyonic concept views Israel's unity as purely theoretical. Mayes, however, concludes by admitting that the paucity of materials precludes the possibility of any final judgment
  • Rogers, Richard. A Commentary on judges. Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1983. Described by C. H. Spurgeon as "THE work upon judges," this facsimile of the 1615 edition contains a wealth of practical and relevant material. Throughout his discussion of the events of this book, Rogers reveals a pastor's heart. Though his messages mirror the experience of God's people in England during the time of Sir Francis Drake and the Spanish Armada, their application is to any people facing external threat and the struggle for spiritual, economic, and social freedom. Beautifully reproduced with handsome binding and printed on excellent paper, this is a worthy acquisitionall the more so because it has been unobtainable for more than a century. Recommended.
  • Soggin, J. Alberto. Judges, a Commentary. Old Testament Library. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1981. An able commentary that readily makes available to the busy pastor a wealth of textual material.
  • Wiersbe, Warren Wendell. Be Available. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1994. Greed. Immorality. Disregard for moral absolutes. These “modern” lifestyles and attitudes were also prevalent during the era of the Judges. In the darkest of times, God raised up unique individuals to do His will. Here is their story. Be Available is a book for each one of us. It breathes encouragement. Read it and see.
  • Wilcock, Michael. The Message of Judges: Grace Abounding. The Bible Speaks Today. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. Covers the contents in eight chapters. Focuses on the major issues revealing mankind’s inherent sinfulness and God’s grace. Too brief to be of lasting value.
  • Wiseman, Luke H. Practical Truths from Judges. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1985. Formerly published as Men of Faith, this work contains a wealth of practical material; applications are offered to encourage and challenge us today. The author presents a general view of the period of the judges along with an indepth study of the lives of Barak, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson.
  • Wood, Leon James. Distressing Days of the fudges. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975. A most important work. It is well researched, reliable, and ideally suited to the needs of the expositor who desires relevant data to support his exposition of the text. Wood makes this colorful period of Israelite history come alive with his apt descriptions and careful use of historical, linguistic, and archaeological material. This book is deserving of a place in every preacher's library

HENRY MORRIS  - Defender's Study Bible -Conservative 



















Outline of the Book of Judges

I. Introduction and Summary—The Disobedience of Israel (Judges 1:1–3:6)

A. Incomplete Conquest over the Canaanites (Judges 1:1–36)

B. The Decline and Judgment of Israel (Judges 2:1–3:6)

II. A Selected History of the Judges—The Deliverance of Israel (Judges 3:7–16:31)

A. First Period: Othniel vs. Mesopotamians (Judges 3:7–11)

B. Second Period: Ehud and Shamgar vs. Moabites (Judges 3:12–31)

C. Third Period: Deborah vs. Canaanites (Judges 4:1–5:31)

D. Fourth Period: Gideon vs. Midianites (Judges 6:1–8:32)

E. Fifth Period : Tola and Jair vs. Abimelech’s Effects (Judges 8:33–10:5)

F. Sixth Period: Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon vs. Philistines and Ammonites (Judges 10:6–12:15)

G. Seventh Period: Samson vs. Philistines (Judges 13:1–16:31)

III. Epilogue—The Dereliction of Israel (Judges 17:1–21:25)

A. The Idolatry of Micah and the Danites (Judges 17:1–18:31)

B. The Crime at Gibeah and War Against Benjamin (Judges 19:1–21:25)


EXCELLENT SET OF MAPS - Ancient Near East from 1200-100 BCE The Conquest of Canaan The Sea Peoples The Levant from 1200-1000 BCE The Conquest by Joshua Joshua's Central and Southern Campaigns Joshua's Northern Campaign The Limits of Israelite Settlement Israel in Canaan from Joshua to Samuel to Saul The Tribal Allotments of Israel The Division of the Land Among the Tribes Levitical Cities and Cities of Refuge (1) The Levitical Cities (2) The Judges of Israel The Period of the Judges Ehud and the Oppression of the Moabites Deborah's Victory over the Canaanites Gideon's Battles with the Amalekites Jephthah and the Ammonites Samson the the Philistines The Battle at Ebenezer and the Loss of the Ark The Ministry of Samuel and Anointment of Saul The Kingdom of Saul and His Wars Saul, 1000 BCE David's Flight from Saul  from Holman Bible Atlas (digital bookHardcover/Paperback version) copyrighted © 1998 B&H Publishing Group, used by permission, all rights reserved.














Sample Excerpt - What's the big idea? The primary message of Judges is that God will not allow sin to go unpunished. As Exodus established, Israel was God’s people—He was their King. They had forsaken the covenant established at Mount Sinai. In Judges, He disciplined them for following other gods, disobeying His sacrificial laws, engaging in blatant immorality, and descending into anarchy at times. Yet because they were His people, He listened to their cries for mercy and raised up leaders to deliver them. Unfortunately, even these godly individuals did not wield sufficient influence to change the nation’s direction. The people’s inability to resist sinful Canaanite influences eventually revealed their desire for a centralized monarchy, led by a righteous king whom God would choose as His intermediary.

How do I apply this? Memory is a gift. Remembering the past teaches us countless lessons about how to live today. The Israelites forgot. They did not remember the miraculous events that brought them to their land or the covenant that united them to their God. But God did not forget His covenant—and because of His great love for His people, He disciplined His sinful children so that they might return to Him. Have you forgotten the great works God has done in your life? Perhaps your difficult circumstances are overpowering your faith. Do you feel as if He is disciplining you right now? Know that He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:5–11). Return to Him. Remember, trust, and obey. He is waiting with open arms.
























A Sunday School study plan for kids by Bible Lessons 4 Kids including large group lesson, small group lesson and family devotions. For more information, please read About Bible Lessons 4 Kidz.




MARTIN MANSER - Dictionary Bible themes - interesting 


TOMMY NELSON - Mp3's only








RAYMOND H SAXE - expository notes

  • Judges 1:1-36 (pdf)
  • Judges 2:1-13 (pdf)
  • Judges 2:14-23 (pdf)
  • Judges 3:12-30 (pdf)
  • Judges 3:31 (pdf)
  • Judges 4:1-24 (pdf)
  • Judges 5:1-31 (pdf)
  • Judges 6:1-10 (pdf)
  • Judges 6:11-24 (pdf)
  • Judges 6:25-40 (pdf)
  • Judges 7:1-25 (pdf)
  • Judges 8:1-21 (pdf)
  • Judges 8:22-35 (pdf)
  • Judges 9:1-21 (pdf)
  • Judges 9:23-57 (pdf)
  • Judges 10:6-18 (pdf)
  • Judges 11:1-29 (pdf)
  • Judges 11:30-12:7 (pdf)
  • Judges 13:1-23 (pdf)
  • Judges 13:24-14:20 (pdf)
  • Judges 15:1-20 (pdf)
  • Judges 16:1-31 (pdf)
  • Judges 17-18 (pdf)
  • Judges 19:1-30 (pdf)
  • Judges 20-21 (pdf)




JOHN STEVENSON - often makes some very nice charts

JOHN SCHULTZ - former missionary to Papau, New Guinea

G W THATCHER - generally verse by verse comments



Spurgeon comments: Mr. Wiseman in this work tells “of Gideon and Barak, of Samson and of Jephthah,” and he does it in a powerful style. He was one of the best preachers in the Wesleyan body. A man of fulness, and judiciousness; in fact, a wise man.

Cyril Barber - Men of Faith... contains a wealth of practical material; applications are offered to encourage and challenge us today. The author presents a general view of the period of the judges along with an in depth study of the lives of Barak, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson.









Spiritual Initiatives A.F. Muir Judges 1:1
The Death of the Great W.F. Adeney Judges 1:12
Transfer of Authority A.F. Muir Judges 1:12
A Thrilling Life and its Lessons Homiletic Review Judges 1:1-10
Adoni-Bezek; Or, Righteous Retribution Fred. Hastings. Judges 1:1-10
Adoni-Bezek's Confession Joseph Mede, B. D. Judges 1:1-10
Dead Heroes Missed R. Rogers. Judges 1:1-10
Dead Leaders and Living Duties F. G. Marchant. Judges 1:1-10
God Sovereign Over His Servants L. H. Wiseman, M. A. Judges 1:1-10
Punishment Delayed Joseph Mede, B. D. Judges 1:1-10
Retribution Inevitable G. A. Sowter, M. A. Judges 1:1-10
Simplicity in Prayer J. Parker, D. D. Judges 1:1-10
The Law of Retribution J. Jackson Wray. Judges 1:1-10
The Punishment of Adoni-Bezek W. Jay. Judges 1:1-10
The Retribution of God Acknowledged R. Rogers. Judges 1:1-10
The Story of Requital J. Parker, D. D. Judges 1:1-10
Alliances in the Holy War A.F. Muir Judges 1:3
Mutual Help W.F. Adeney Judges 1:3
Retribution W.F. Adeney Judges 1:67
Correspondence of Crime and Requital A.F. Muir Judges 1:7
The Book-Town R. A. Watson, M. A. Judges 1:11
The Public Spirit of Caleb A.F. Muir Judges 1:11-15
Achsah's Asking a Pattern of Prayer Spurgeon, Charles Haddon Judges 1:12-15
Difficulties and Hardships in Life R. Rogers. Judges 1:12-15
The Blessings Given in the Gospel F. Tucker, B. A. Judges 1:12-15
The Upper Springs and the Nether Springs Arthur Ritchie. Judges 1:12-15
Compensations A.F. Muir Judges 1:1415
Chariots of Iron   Judges 1:17-19
What Hinders the Gospel Homilist Judges 1:17-19
Zephath and Hormah R. A. Watson, M. A. Judges 1:17-19
Divine Help Versus Material Obstacles A.F. Muir Judges 1:19
The Presence of Cod in the Battle of Life W.F. Adeney Judges 1:19
A Title to be Made Good A.F. Muir Judges 1:19-21
An Unwilling Helper of the Cause of God A.F. Muir Judges 1:22-26
Success in Carrying Out God's Commands R. Rogers. Judges 1:22-26
The Spies and the Man of Bethel R. Rogers. Judges 1:22-26
A Good Work Forsaken R. Rogers. Judges 1:27-28
Attitude of the World Towards the Church L. H. Wiseman, M. A. Judges 1:27-28
Forsaking the Lord's Work F. G. Marchant. Judges 1:27-28
Human Wisdom Versus Divine A.F. Muir Judges 1:28
The Failure of Duty of One an Occasion of Inconvenience to Another A.F. Muir Judges 1:3435
A Neglect of Duty Injurious to Others R. Rogers. Judges 1:34-36























































































































SERMON CENTRAL - most have transcripts but quality variable. Be a Berean!


Divine Punishment and Preparation of Deliverance Simultaneous A.F. Muir Judges 13:1-5
Cheer for the Faint-Hearted Spurgeon, Charles Haddon Judges 13:1-25
Education of Children W. A. Scott, D. D. Judges 13:1-25
Fears Removed W. Jay. Judges 13:1-25
God and His People Thomas Kirk. Judges 13:1-25
God's Past Mercies a Ground of Hope for the Future W. A. Scott, D. D. Judges 13:1-25
Manoah and His Wife Homilist Judges 13:1-25
Manoah and His Wife R. Halley, D. D. Judges 13:1-25
Manoah's Wife J. Parker, D. D. Judges 13:1-25
Manoah's Wife and Her Excellent Argument Spurgeon, Charles Haddon Judges 13:1-25
Money Bequeathed by Parents to Their Children W. Arnot. Judges 13:1-25
Mysteries of Providence A. P. Peabody. Judges 13:1-25
Past Tokens of Divine Favour an Encouragement Against Fears   Judges 13:1-25
Some Lessons of Catastrophes John Jamieson, M. A., Arthur Ritchie. Judges 13:1-25
The Angelic Appearances to Manoah and His Wife H. J. Bevis. Judges 13:1-25
The Spectacle of Life and the Opposite Conclusions Drawn from It W. W. Newton. Judges 13:1-25
The Spirit World Homilist Judges 13:1-25
Unrecognised Angels Wm. Ewen, B. D. Judges 13:1-25
A Natural Desire and its Gracious Fulfilment A.F. Muir Judges 13:2-5
God's Use of Unlikely Means for Gracious Ends A.F. Muir Judges 13:2-5
The Difficulty of Salvation A.F. Muir Judges 13:5
The Training of Children W.F. Adeney Judges 13:8
Repetition of Divine Favours A.F. Muir Judges 13:8-11
Parental Anxiety and its Satisfying A.F. Muir Judges 13:12-14
The Mystery of a Name A.F. Muir Judges 13:17, 18
The Wonderful Name A.F. Muir Judges 13:17, 18
Reassurance of Divine Favour A.F. Muir Judges 13:22, 23
The Fear of the Vision of God W.F. Adeney Judges 13:22, 23
From Weakness to Strength J. Vaughan, M. A. Judges 13:24-25
Fulfilment of Promise A.F. Muir Judges 13:24-25
Man Under the Influence of the Divine Spirit C. E. Searle, M. A. Judges 13:24-25
Samson W. A. Scott, D. D. Judges 13:24-25
Samson W. G. Blaikie, D. D. Judges 13:24-25
Samson W. J. Heaton. Judges 13:24-25
Samson, the Judge Bp. S. Wilberforce. Judges 13:24-25
Samson: Inferior Influences Over Large Minds E. Monro, M. A. Judges 13:24-25
Samson's Gift S. A. Tipple. Judges 13:24-25
The Place of Samson in Jewish History Professor W. G. Elmslie. Judges 13:24-25
The Young Samson W.F. Adeney Judges 13:24-25








SERMON CENTRAL - most have transcripts but quality variable. Be a Berean!


Human Desire Overruled for Divine Ends A.F. Muir Judges 14:1-4
Bodily Strength T. De Witt Talmage. Judges 14:1-20
Brawn and Muscle Consecrated T. De Witt Talmage. Judges 14:1-20
Estrangement from Home Influences John Bruce, D. D. Judges 14:1-20
Fruits of Conflict C. Easton. Judges 14:1-20
God Overrules Evil for Good Thomas Judges 14:1-20
Hands Full of Honey Spurgeon, Charles Haddon Judges 14:1-20
Honey Out of the Dead Lion H. J. Bevis. Judges 14:1-20
Out of Strength, Sweetness C. Beard, B. A. Judges 14:1-20
Resist the Devil J. McNeill. Judges 14:1-20
Samson's First Love W. A. Scott, D. D. Judges 14:1-20
Samson's Marriage J. Bigwood. Judges 14:1-20
Samson's Riddle G. Burder. Judges 14:1-20
Samson's Riddle T. L. Cuyler. Judges 14:1-20
Samson's Silence Respecting the Honey Thomas Kirk. Judges 14:1-20
The Choice of a Wife T. De Witt Talmage. Judges 14:1-20
The Sweet Memory of Triumph T. Davies. Judges 14:1-20
The Wedding Riddle and Tragedy W. A. Scott, D. D. Judges 14:1-20
Samson and the Lion W.F. Adeney Judges 14:5, 6
The Lion in the Way A.F. Muir Judges 14:5, 6
The Mystery of Spiritual Might A.F. Muir Judges 14:6
Recalling Past Deliverances A.F. Muir Judges 14:8, 9
Samson's Riddle A.F. Muir Judges 14:14
Samson's Riddle W.F. Adeney Judges 14:14
Unlawful Methods of Interpreting Divine Mysteries A.F. Muir Judges 14:15-20
Ploughing with Another's Heifer A.F. Muir Judges 14:18
How Confidence in Wicked Men is Rewarded A.F. Muir Judges 14:20







SERMON CENTRAL - most have transcripts but quality variable. Be a Berean!


Atonements of the Unrighteous A.F. Muir Judges 15:1-3
God's Servant Set Free by the Providences of Life A.F. Muir Judges 15:1-5
How We May Burst the Bonds of Sin Thomas Kirk. Judges 15:1-20
Infliction of Wrong is Sometimes Overruled Thomas Kirk. Judges 15:1-20
Samson's Prayer Thomas Kirk. Judges 15:1-20
Samson's Weapon D. Davies. Judges 15:1-20
Spiritual Renewal in Answer to Prayer Thomas Kirk. Judges 15:1-20
The Fainting Hero   Judges 15:1-20
The Fate of Samson's Wife an Illustration of Retributive Justice W. A. Scott, D. D. Judges 15:1-20
The Rudest Weapon not to be Despised in God's Service Marcus Dods, D. D. Judges 15:1-20
Three Hundred Foxes in the Corn W. A. Scott, D. D. Judges 15:1-20
Wrong-Doers Naturally Seek to Justify Themselves Thomas Kirk. Judges 15:1-20
Foxes Arid Firebrands A.F. Muir Judges 15:4, 5
Ingenuity and Originality W.F. Adeney Judges 15:4, 5
Those Who have Occasioned Evil Punished for Those Who Caused it A.F. Muir Judges 15:6-8
Requiting Evil for Good, and Good for Evil A.F. Muir Judges 15:8-16
Imperfect Means Made Effectual by Divine Inspiration A.F. Muir Judges 15:14-16
The Self-Refreshment of Divine Service A.F. Muir Judges 15:17-19
Distress After Triumph W.F. Adeney Judges 15:18, 19





















SERMON CENTRAL - most with transcripts, quality can vary, Be a Berean!


God Redeeming the Error of His Servant A.F. Muir Judges 16:1-3
A Grist from the Prison Mill of Gaza . A. Scott, D. D. Judges 16:1-31
As At Other Times J. Durran. Judges 16:1-31
Blessed and Tragic Unconsciousness A. Maclaren Judges 16:1-31
How not to Pray J. Parker, D. D. Judges 16:1-31
Ignominious Tasks R. A. Watson, M. A. Judges 16:1-31
Individulalism in Religion R. Balgarnie, D. D. Judges 16:1-31
Lessons from the Life of Samson Abp. Wm. Alexander. Judges 16:1-31
Loss of Strength W. M. Taylor, D. D. Judges 16:1-31
Lost Grace Unrealised R. Rogers. Judges 16:1-31
Man's Cannot and Man's Can: a New Year's Address Homilist Judges 16:1-31
Man's Power for God's Work Homilist Judges 16:1-31
Moral Strength Joseph Ritson. Judges 16:1-31
Our Champion   Judges 16:1-31
Pleasure and Peril in Gaza R. A. Watson, M. A. Judges 16:1-31
Samson Conquered Spurgeon, Charles Haddon Judges 16:1-31
Samson Shorn of His Strength The Preacher's Monthly Judges 16:1-31
Samson, the Jewish Hercules Homilist Judges 16:1-31
Shaven and Shorn, But not Beyond Hope Spurgeon, Charles Haddon Judges 16:1-31
Strength Lost H. J. Bevis. Judges 16:1-31
Strength Lost and Restored H. J. Bevis. Judges 16:1-31
The Death of Samson G. M. Boynton. Judges 16:1-31
The Evil of Knowing Evil J. C. Coghlan, D. D. Judges 16:1-31
The Fall and Rise of a Great Man Homilist Judges 16:1-31
The Giant's Locks T. De Witt Talmage. Judges 16:1-31
The Gradual and Subtle Advance of Sin Bp. Boyd Carpenter. Judges 16:1-31
The Influence of Amusements on Character and Destiny T. De Witt Talmage. Judges 16:1-31
The Man Who has Trifled Once Too Often Dean Vaughan. Judges 16:1-31
The Secret of Samson's Strength J. Clifford, D. D. Judges 16:1-31
The Victim and the Victor E. P. Hood. Judges 16:1-31
The Weakness of Strength G. Elliott. Judges 16:1-31
The Withdrawal of Divine Influences J. Williamson. Judges 16:1-31
Samson's Betrayal and Fall A.F. Muir Judges 16:4-21
Samson's Weariness W.F. Adeney Judges 16:15-17
And He Wist not that the Lord (Jehovah)Was Departed from Him A.F. Muir Judges 16:20
God's Departure from the Soul Unrecognised W.F. Adeney Judges 16:20
Samson Conquered Charles Haddon Spurgeon Judges 16:20
Strength Profaned and Lost Alexander Maclaren Judges 16:21
A Hero's Exodus A.F. Muir Judges 16:21-31
Samson's Heroic Death A.F. Muir Judges 16:28-30


























Sermon Series on
The Book of Judges

Added December 13, 2015 Audio Only - Recommended

Church Pulpit Commentary

Notes on Judges

Links open chapter in left panel and notes in right
Click tab "Constable's Notes" for excellent notes that synchronize to the chapter.

Sermons on Judges

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Judges Devotionals

Excellent devotional illustrations from RBC Ministries Updated December 8, 2015

See also Judges Devotionals


Commentary on Judges

English Annotations on Judges

Exposition & Homilies on Judges

Hint: Expositions are at top of page. Scroll down for Homiletics and numerous homilies related to each chapter.

Judges Sermons

Judges Sermons

Peninsula Bible Church

Judges Sermons

Judges Commentary







Reference Notes

Judges Sermons


Sermons on Judges

NOTE: If you are not familiar with the great saint Charles Simeon see Dr John Piper's discussion of Simeon's life - you will want to read Simeon's sermons after meeting him! - click Brothers We Must Not Mind a Little Suffering (Mp3 even better)

Sermons on Judges

Through the Bible - Click C2000, then Judges for the following…

Commentary on Judges
F C Cook

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Book of Judges

Outline & References

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21


Commentary on Judges


Excellent Cross References to aid your study of a given passage

John MacArthur: "The one book, apart from the Bible itself, that I value most in my studies."

Note: The best commentary on Scripture is Scripture (Compare Scripture with Scripture) and these cross references compiled by Torrey are the most comprehensive work of this type with over 500,000 entries. However, always check the context (Keep Context King) to make sure that the cross reference is referring to the same subject as the original Scripture. The Puritan writer Thomas Watson said it this way - "The Scripture is to be its own interpreter or rather the Spirit speaking in it; nothing can cut the diamond but the diamond; nothing can interpret Scripture but Scripture." See an example of the value of comparing Scripture with Scripture. See also Use of Cross-References

Commentary on Judges

Note: Daniel D. Whedon was a central figure in the struggle between Calvinism and Arminianism. He devoted 25 years to writing the New Testament commentaries. Other authors wrote the Old Testament commentaries with Whedon serving as the editor.

Judges Sermons
Peninsula Bible Church


"WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS?" Judges 2:1-5.

The "angel of the Lord" may mean "the angel of His Presence," that angelic form which makes the presence of the Lord, a powerful reality. This the Holy Spirit now does. Wherever He is the presence of God is felt. The journey from Gilgal (rolling away) to Bochim (weepers) may in a moral sense be very short. If we do not walk in the light of His will the distance between our successes and failures will never be very great. We observe here—

I. A Work of Grace. This grace was manifested in—

1. A Merciful Compulsion. "I made you to go up out of Egypt" (v. 1). It is a blessed thing when salvation becomes a pressing necessity. Compelled to forsake our godless ways through the force of constraining grace. It was so with Saul while on the way to Damascus (Acts 9). The compulsion of Almighty love.

2. The Gift of a Rich Possession. "I brought you unto the land" (v. 1). This good land was the land of promise. To Israel it meant freedom, peace, plenty, progress, and power. Typical of the possessions the believer has in Christ Jesus.

3. An Unfailing Assurance. "I will never break My covenant with you" (v. 1). The gifts and callings of God are without repentance. God Himself will not alter the thing that has gone out of His lips (Psalm 89:34). We may fail, yet He abides faithful to His own promise. The bargain will never be broken on God's side. He cannot deny Himself.

4. A Needful Warning. "You shall make no league with the inhabitants; you shall throw down their altars" (v. 2). The inhabitants of the land were bitterly opposed to the purposes of God, therefore the children of God must make no covenant with them. The servants of Christ must in no way identify themselves with that spirit that works in the children of disobedience. Their false gods must be thrown down, and the Lord alone exalted.

II. A Miserable Failure. "But you have not obeyed My voice" (v. 2). The failure came in their case, as it often comes in ours, through unbelief. O fools and slow of heart, to believe all that He has spoken! The voice of God is still in His Word, because His Word is the breathings of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). The Scriptures are always living and active (see Hebrews 4:12, R.V.). To turn away from His revealed will is to close our ears to the voice of God. Be not deceived, God knows when His voice is obeyed. He is personally interested in every individual child of His. How often have we complained of our failures? May not the cause be here: "You have not obeyed My voice?"

III. A Searching Question. "Why have you done this?" The "angel of His presence" is jealous for the honor of God. What answer can a disobedient one give to this personal, pointed inquiry? An honest answer would be: "I feared man more than God, and was better pleased with my own thoughts and plans than with His." Paul's "Not I, but Christ," has been changed into "Not Christ, but I." You know that, apart from the presence and power of the Holy Spirit within you, you cannot live or witness for God as you ought; yet you have gone leaning on your own strength and wisdom, and came away defeated. "Why have you done this?" You know that to obey His voice is the secret of heart-restfulness, yet you have not walked in this light. "Why have you done this?"

IV. An Expressive Answer. They answered not by words, but by deeds. Acts speak louder than words—

1. They Wept. "The people lifted up their voice and wept" (v. 4). The message from him who represented the presence of God had gone home to their hearts. "Why have you done this?" smote them with the silence of self-condemnation that could only find expression in tears of repentance. It was a heart question that wrung out this heart-melting response. The crowing of a rooster sent the same burning question into the heart of self-confident Peter, and with the very same result. "He went out and wept bitterly" (Matthew 26:75). "Godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of" (2 Corinthians 7:10).

2. They Sacrificed. "And they sacrificed there unto the Lord" (v. 5). Sacrificing unto God is the only possible way of redeeming what we have lost by disobedience. The tears that are not followed with self-denying deeds are not very hot. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit" (Psalm 51:17). The broken spirit allows all that is in it to flow out for God. "I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).


"Command, Lord, what You will,
My way be dark or bright; 
Upon the Rock I'm built,
You shall defend the right;
O look to me, and bring 
Me forth conquering to sing."

"The song of Deborah," says Dr. Farrar, "is one of the grandest outbursts of impassioned poetry in the Bible." Like the song of salvation, the deep fullness of its harmony depends on the rich variety of its notes. It is a song of triumph. It is wonderful how nicely we can sing when we have experienced deliverance from all our enemies through faith in Jesus Christ. Those taken up out of the fearful pit of iniquity have a new song put into their mouth (Psalm 40:2, 3). This song of the prophetess resembles our song, in that it has in it a note of—

I. Fellowship. "Then sang Deborah and Barak" (v. 1). The song of salvation is not a solo, for while the saved one sings for joy there is also joy in the presence of the angels of God (Luke 15:10). The song of deliverance at the Red Sea was sung by Moses and the children of Israel (Exod. 15:1). Let us exalt His Name together.

II. Personal Dedication. "The people willingly offered themselves" (v. 2). This is a sure forerunner to victory. When the people of God willingly offer themselves as instruments of righteousness in His hand, to do His will, the shout of triumph will certainly follow. As with the Church, so with the individual; personal consecration to the work of the Lord is the strait gate into the way of success in His service. "They first gave their own selves to the Lord" (2 Corinthians 8:5).

III. Exultant Joy. "Awake, awake, utter a song" (v. 12). The song of the Lord's delivered ones is so high pitched that only the saved can sing it, and they need to be wide awake to give it the needed emphasis. The halfhearted make but a sorry attempt to touch the notes on the leger lines of this heavenly song. The psalmist was clearing his throat for it when he said, "Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early" (Psalm 57:8). You that dwell in the dust of an unclean and praiseless life, awake and sing (Isaiah 26:19).

IV. Mutual Encouragement. "Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeopardized their lives in the high places of the field" (v. 18). Reuben could debate on the merits of the war, and create divisions, playing the part of the "higher critic" (v. 16), and perhaps helping Gilead, Dan, and Asher in their guilty selfishness and cowardliness (v. 17). But give honor to whom honor is due. Those who stand firm on the "high places" in this holy warfare against worldliness, and every form of sin that works in opposition to the gracious will of God, let them be mentioned in our prayers and praises to God. All who jeopardize their lives for the cause of Christ, and even their own good name, should have honorable mention before God and man. This is a very effective antidote for jealousy in the Lord's work.

V. Faithful Warning. Meroz and the inhabitants thereof were to be cursed bitterly, "because they came not to the help of the Lord against the mighty" (v. 23). The people of Meroz may not have actually hindered the Lord's warriors, but they did not help; in this lay their guilt. They were cursed because they did nothing. Prayerless Christian, take note. The fig tree was cursed by the merciful Christ because it was fruitless. Doing nothing in the way of helping on the Lord's cause is the sure road to a withered Christian life, and it maybe to a God-dishonoring posterity. Abigail was well taught in theology when she assured David that, "The Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord fights the Lord's battles" (1 Samuel 25:28). Look after His business and He will look after yours.

VI. Solemn Reflection. The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried, "Why is his chariot so long in coming?" etc. (vv. 28-30). Deborah's reference to the mother of Sisera watching and wearying for the return of her murdered son is an intensely womanly touch. Here is pictured the terrible disappointment that must finally come to those who hope for peace and prosperity while fighting against the purposes and people of God (Exod. 15:9). While we celebrate our deliverance from the guilt and power of sin in our song of praise, let us not be unmindful of those who are without God and without hope in the world; those who are feeding on vanity, and are as the chaff to the wheat; those who walk in the light of the sparks of their own kindling, and whose light shall suddenly be quenched. The only hymn that we read of Christ ever singing was sung under the shadow of the Cross (Matthew 26:30).

GIDEON'S CALL. Judges 6:11-24.

Many have lived lives of sorrow and failure because they have mistaken their calling. It is not so with those called of God, as was Gideon. The gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the consequence was what it always will be when we turn away from the Lord our Redeemer—bondage and oppression under the hand of an enemy (vv. 1, 2). But when they were impoverished they "cried unto the Lord" (v. 6), and He saved them out of their distresses by sending them a prophet to warn (v. 8) and a mighty man to save. The cry out of the depths of our impoverished hearts brings an answer out of the depths of His infinite fullness. In seeking to grasp the salient features of this portion let us note—

I. A Sorrowful Plight. "Gideon thrashed his wheat, and hid it from the Midianites" (v. 11). What a picture of a life lived under the fear of man! Separation from the ways of God will certainly pervert the motives of life. How are the mighty fallen that the redeemed of the Lord should tremble at the face of man? Elijah, in another sense, thrashed out his wheat fearlessly in the presence of his enemy, because he stood before the Lord God of Israel (1 Kings 17:1).

II. A Comforting Message. The angel of the Lord appeared, and said unto him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor" (v. 12). This messenger of the covenant preached unto Gideon the Gospel of the grace of God,"The Lord is with you, you mighty man." It is His will and purpose to bless you and make you a blessing, therefore arise and put on your strength. This angel brought to Gideon what the Holy Spirit brings to us—a remembrance of our privileges as His people. He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you.

III. An Anxious Question. And Gideon said, "If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?" etc. (v. 13). All this dishonor and misery came because of sin; but, blessed be God, although we may fall through our iniquity, He does not cast off and forever deny His people. His great fatherly heart still loves and yearns for the restoration of His erring ones to His bosom. If the Lord is with us, why is our testimony so fruitless and our prayers so powerless? Just for the very same reason—an evil heart of unbelief (2 Chronicles 15:2).

IV. A Great Commission. The Lord looked upon him, and said, "Go in this your might, and you shall save Israel; have not I sent you?" (v. 14). His might undoubtedly lay in the assurance of Jehovah's presence with him (v. 12). Samson was not a giant; his great strength lay in the power of the Spirit of God with him. He does not send us a warfare on our own charges. Depressed and doubting soul, herein is the secret of might, "Lo, I am with you always, and all power is given unto Me." Go in this your might (Joshua 1:9; Matthew 28:18, 19).

V. A Common Excuse. "Oh my Lord, with which shall I save Israel? my family is poor, and I am the least," etc. (v. 15). It was so also with Moses (Exod. 3:11) and with Saul (1 Samuel 9:21). Poverty and weakness are no arguments against the exceeding riches of His grace and power to usward. Urging our own helplessness in the face of His all-sufficient promise only betrays our lack of faith in His Word. Still, the Lord expects that His abounding grace should never beget in us anything like self-confidence or boasting. The revelation of the glory of His goodness and of the high calling into which we have been brought are sure to make us feel keenly the impotency of all human strength and wisdom (see Luke 5:8, 9). Our conscious weakness is one of the best qualifications for the work of God (1 Corinthians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 12:10).

VI. An Assuring Promise. "And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with you" (v. 16). God meets his felt need with the promise of His presence. The presence of God means the supplying of all our wants as His servants. There is no other way whereby the Lord can equip us for His work than by the power of His presence, by the Holy Spirit within us. Gideon says, "I am poor, and my father's house are few in number;" but God's answer to his and our poverty and feebleness is, "I will be with you." Greater is He who is with us than all that can be against us. "Himself has said, I will in no wise fail you," so that with courage we say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not fear" (Hebrews 13:5, 6, R.V.).

VII. A Confirming Token. "If now I have found grace in Your sight, then show me a sign, and there rose up fire out of the rock" (vv. 17-21). The God that answers by fire, let him be God (1 Kings 18:24; Acts 2:1-4). Why should a sign be needed after giving His sure word of promise? In infinite grace God adapts His methods to the natural infirmities of man. He adds the seal of the Spirit to the promise of His Word. This holy fire appeared after the offering had been poured out before the Lord. As the fire of the Lord of old had to do with the offerings on the altar (Leviticus 9:24), so the Holy Spirit of burning comes now as God's answer and sign to a life consecrated unto Him. You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" (Acts 19:2, R.V.).

VIII. An Adoring Act. "Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-shalom"— Jehovah, send peace (v. 24). Because he had seen the angel of the Lord face to face he feared that he would die. But his fears having been rebuked by His "Peace be unto you" (vv. 22, 23), he built an altar, and called it the "Peace of Jehovah." "My peace I give unto you." The assuring Word of God's promise ought to be enough to lead us into that adoring attitude of sacrificing restfulness (John 14:27). This altar, like the altar of the Cross of Jesus Christ, speaks powerfully of the peace of God. The cry of both was, "Jehovah, send peace." And peace has been made. A peace that passes all understanding. May it garrison our hearts and constrain to adoring worship.

GIDEON AT WORK. Judges 6:25-40.

The apostle Paul has declared that "When I am weak, then am I strong." Judged by the wisdom of the world this is certainly paradoxical. The seeming absurdity is partly explained by his previous utterance. "I will glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10). Gideon in himself was weak and uninfluential; but now that the presence and peace of Jehovah was with him, and in him, he becomes what God saw that he ought to be: "A mighty man of valor."

I. Where he Began.

1. At Home. "Take your father's bullock, and throw down the altar of Baal that your father has" (v. 25). The command to "honor your father," etc., has a far-reaching effect, and may be fulfilled by a son in a way that is very painful to the father. Gideon would honor his father, but destroy his father's gods. It takes courage to make a start and take a stand for God and for righteousness among our own kin. "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you" (Mark 5:19).

2. At Once. "And Gideon took ten men, . . . and did it by night" (v. 27). It would appear that no time was lost. Gideon's ten servants, through his consistent testimony, was fully in sympathy with Jehovah, and ready at once to follow their master in this needed work for God. The call was clear. Why should he put off? Is it not as clear for you? Yet you linger. The Master is come, and calls for you.

II. What He Did. His work was twofold.

1. A Pulling Down. "Throw down the altar of Baal" (v. 25). The altar of Baal represented that which was false, deceptive, and opposed to the will and rule of Jehovah. Every God-usurping thing around us or within us must be overturned and dethroned. "Our weapons are not according to the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down imaginations and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God" (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5, R.V.).

2. A Building Up. "Build an altar unto the Lord your God" (v. 26). It is not enough to undeceive the worshipers of false gods; the true God must be put in their place. It is not enough to take the pleasures of the world from its votaries; we must be able to put something better in their place. The Altar of God, namely, the Cross of Christ, is the divine substitute for the barren and powerless inventions of men. To preach Christ and Him crucified is to build up the Altar of the Lord.

III. What Followed. Such definite action will always be accompanied with very positive results. There came—

1. A Changed Attitude. "The men of the city said, Bring out your son that he may die" (v. 30). Death, in one form or another, is forever the world's penalty for faithfulness to God. The men of the city (who mind earthly things) are always bitterly opposed to those iconoclasts— men of God—who seek first the kingdom of God. But the disciple is not greater than his Master. The first evidence of faithfulness to Christ is the opposition of the ungodly.

2. A Changed Name. "Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal" (v. 32). "Let Baal plead," or "Baal's antagonist." It is a blessed stigma to be called "a hater of false gods," an enemy to ignorance and superstition. It is quite becoming for a man to get a new name when he becomes a new creature (Genesis 32:28).

IV. How He was Encouraged by the—

1. Anointing of the Spirit. "The Spirit of the Lord came upon (clothed) Gideon, and he blew a trumpet" (v. 34). Fitness for the service of God can only be found in the Spirit of God. The blowing of the Gospel trumpet by a man clothed with the power of God will surely be effectual in gathering many after him. "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you" (Acts 1:8).

2. Testimony of the Fleece. In answer to the prayer of Gideon the fleece was wet with dew, while the earth around was dry; and, again, the fleece was dry while on the ground there was dew (vv. 36-40). A convincing proof that the providence of God in connection with the needs of His people is not the blind workings of chance. The Spirit of God, like the wind, blows where it wills; and, like the dew, it may fall on the fleece or not on the fleece, according to the cry of the man of God. Every servant of God may have this twofold witness: the Spirit within, and the special token of God's workings without. Prayer and providence go together.


Gideon had been called of God as a "mighty man of valor." God knows where to find the instrument that is suitable for His work. "Not he who commends Himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends" (2 Corinthians 10:18). When Gideon blew the trumpet a great many gathered after him (v. 34), commending themselves, but whom the Lord had not commended. So the sifting process had to be applied. They had pitched beside the well (v. 1), and between the water and the warfare the would-be followers were tested. But note—

I. A Strange Hindrance. The Lord said, "The people that are with you are too many for Me" (v. 2). This is "to human wisdom, how severe?" An army of 32,000 too many for 120,000! (chapter 8:10). Yes, this is the Almighty's logic, that no flesh should glory in His presence (Deuteronomy 8:12-17). Our own strength and wisdom are always too many for God (1 Corinthians 1:29). It is to the faint that He gives power, and to them that have no might He increases strength (Isaiah 40:29). "When I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10). "Not by might, nor by power" (Zechariah 4:6).

II. An Urgent Call. "Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early" (v. 3). The presence of the fearful and the self-interested are always a hindrance to the work of God (Deuteronomy 20:8). How slow we are to learn that our Lord can do without those doubting and fearful professed followers! We are ready to be discouraged when they turn out of the ranks of workers for Christ, when in heart they never were really in line with the Spirit of God. They turn out, because in spirit they never had turned in. "For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us" (1 John 2:19).

III. A Startling Revelation. "And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand" (v. 3). This turn about made a great gap in the ranks. Only ten thousand remained. God's warriors have to be weakened and reduced to bring them up to real efficiency in His presence. When the Church of God and the teaching of Christ are being assailed by an ever-increasing number of enemies it is wonderful how many false professors are found out by their turning away from the faith. Such dissensions cannot hinder the progress of the kingdom of God any more than the blowing away of rotten twigs by the wind can impede the growth of a tree.

IV. A Second Test. "And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for you there" (v. 4). When the appeal was made to their own will many turned away back, but now the purging of those that are left is to be according to the will of God. Much that we would pass for wheat His fan will prove to be only chaff (Isaiah 1:25). The greater the victory to be achieved in the Name of Jesus Christ the hotter the furnace of trial through which we must pass. It was so with Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Peter, and Paul. Where are they who have been much used of God who have not had His sifting, purging fire turned upon them? It is one thing for us to search ourselves; this will doubtless turn many cowardly things away out of our life, but when God Himself comes by His searching Spirit to try us, then we are brought down to utter hopelessness in our own strength, that no flesh may glory in His presence, and that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us (2 Corinthians 4:7). "Search me, O God, and try me."

V. A Consecrated Band. "And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you" (vv. 5-7). A straw may indicate which way the wind blows. Those who lapped the water with the hand had evidently a keener sense of and were more alive to the importance and urgency of the occasion. Those who "bowed down upon their knees" were specially eager after their own selfish gratification. We are not fit for the work of God while our own personal comfort is our chief concern. No doubt they were all alike thirsty, and the water would be equally precious to both parties as the good and needful gift of God. But we don't live to eat and drink; we eat and drink that we may live to the glory of our God. As the servants of Christ let us lap thankfully of the wells that God in His providence may open before us by the way; but you shall not bow down to them as a mere hireling, else in the sight of God you shall become unfit to join the victors in the battle of the Lord. "This one thing I do" is the language of those who have yielded themselves entirely to the doing of the will of God, who partake of the pleasures of this world, as a dog laps the waters in passing, but whose heart is set on the will and work of the Lord. Consecrated souls lap the waters of earth with their eyes on the Cross of Christ.


"Observe the rising lily's snowy grace, 
Observe the various vegetable race; 
They neither toil nor spin, but careless grow, 
Yet see how warm they blush, how bright they glow!

What regal vestments can with them compare, 
What king so shining, or what queen so fair? 
Will He not care for you, you faithless, say? 
Is He unwise? Or are you less than they?"—Thomson.

Be not discouraged because of the way. He who has begun the good work in you and through you will keep performing it until the day of perfection. If Gideon's heart was lifted up with pride when 32,000 gathered around him it would surely sink when he saw the powerful looking army melt away until only a handful of three hundred were left, but this was a "Handful on Purpose." God's handful of separated ones, "ready to do whatever the King would appoint." The divine method is quality, not quantity. He desires not appearance, but truth in the inward parts. "The Spirit of the Lord came upon David, ... but departed from Saul" (1 Samuel 16:1-7).

Gideon was mightily encouraged by the—

I. Promise of God. "Arise, get you down unto the host, for I have delivered it unto your hand" (v. 9). The battle was already fought and the victory gained in the purpose of God. Now Gideon is called upon to arise and enter into that purpose and claim the offered deliverance. Does not the promises of God in Christ mean as much as this to us? Is it not the purpose of God that we should be saved from all our sins and delivered from all our enemies? Then arise, and in His Name claim the victory. He is faithful that has promised (Luke 1:74, 75).

II. Presence of God. The Lord had said unto him, "Surely I will be with you" (vv. 6-10). His promise of victory always brings with it the assurance of His presence (v. 9). "Lo, I am with you always." Does this promise only hold good when we are conscious of His nearness? Are our moral sensibilities to be the criterion of the truthfulness of His Word? Are we only thankful for His powerful presence with us when we feel it? It is surely an encouragement that we can continually reckon on our Lord being with us by His Spirit when we know that we are doing that which is pleasing in His sight.

III. Providence of God. "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). When our affections are set on Himself, and while we are walking according to our high calling, every circumstance in life is planned for our good by the wonder-working hand of God. This is part of the great Redemption which we have in Christ Jesus. See how He wrought for the comfort of His servant Gideon. There were three different streams of influence which culminated at one divinely-appointed moment. There was—

1. A Dream. "Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian," etc. (v. 13). Dreams are common, but Jehovah was the Author and Giver of this one. Despair not at the lack of means for getting within touch of those who are the enemies of God and of His Christ while the ear of God is open to your cry. He may be causing others to see the little barley cakes overturning their tents and creating dismay even while we are lamenting their utter indifference to the will of God.

2. The Interpretation of the Dream. "And his fellow answered, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon," etc. (v. 14). When the trembling dreamer told his dream the mighty power of God seemed to take hold of the hearer that he could see nothing else but his own and his fellow's doom in this simple vision. Ah, when God is speaking the simple message comes with a self-condemning revelation. Yes, the cake of barley, the bread of the Lord's host, becomes the sword of the Lord in the camp of His enemies. Gideon's little consecrated band is in the hand of the Lord, and He prepares for them the victory.

3. The Hearing of it by Gideon. "And it was so when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof that he worshiped" (v. 15). The whole scene was a divinely-planned coincidence, and another proof of that unerring providence that constrains the faithful servant of God again and again to bow in silent worship. This is the finger of God. It is God's manner to choose the things that are weak and despised to confound the things which are mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27, 28). Although the Lord is often pleased to give us providential evidences of the truth of His Word, let us ever remember that His promises are enough without them; what Gideon heard in the tent did not make the Word of God more sure. "All the Promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen" (2 Corinthians 1:20).

GIDEON'S VICTORY. Judges 7:16-25.

'"Tis always morning somewhere in the world, 
Throned evil yet shall from its height be hurled; 
The nail-pierced hand holds still the seven stars, 
Truth stronger, nobler grows by its scars."—Grosart.

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. Like Gideon, every divinely-called one has a work to do that would be otherwise perfectly impossible but for the grace of God. Every regenerated life is a miracle, a new center of operation for the spiritual forces of Heaven, and of course there must be a special manifestation of supernatural and unworldly influences. If a Christian is not in the eyes of the world an anomaly he is nothing. The Spirit of God always makes a tremendous distinction between men. "You are a peculiar people." The energy of the natural man, and that of the Holy Spirit in the believer, are as different as darkness is from light; as far apart in character as Judas was from John. Notice the—

I. Strange Preparation. "He put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers" (v. 16). Trumpets, lamps, and pitchers. Those who have faith in God can afford to use weak things. There was a great difference between the weapon of Goliath and that of David (1 Samuel 17:40-45). Pitchers with nothing in them but lamps may suggest hearts cleansed and filled with the light of the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 4:6, 7). This knowledge to be sounded out with trumpet lips (Romans 10:14). When God makes His choice of weapons they are always weak and base in the sight of the wisdom of this world (1 Corinthians 1:27, 28). Fools for Christ.

II. Present Example. Gideon said, "Look on me, and do likewise; as I do, so shall you do" (v. 17). Each one must look unto him who is God's messenger, and who goes before them. Gideon himself, in his ways and actions, was an example to each consecrated follower. Christ has left us an example, that we should follow His steps. Look unto Him, and not unto one another. Whatever He says unto you, do it. He pleased not Himself. Look on Him, and do likewise. The Captain of our salvation, like Gideon, desires His followers always to keep within sight of Him.

III. Uniting Battle Cry. "And they cried, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon" (v. 20). There was only one sword among them, but it was enough., for it was the Sword of the Lord, and the hand of Gideon was grasping it. The one glittering blade of divine truth is mightier than all the weapons of darkness The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. This Word is the sword of the Lord, and of His Christ. It is the alone weapon for the whole camp of His followers. It will be a blessed and victorious day for the Church when this is its unmistakable cry, "The Word of the Lord and of His Church."

IV. Peculiar Warfare. "They blew the trumpets, and break the pitchers, and held the lamps, and cried," etc. (vv. 19, 20). Every man, as God's chosen one, had a trumpet, a pitcher, and a lamp, but every one's faith was in the "Sword of the Lord." Each soldier sounded his trumpet as an individual testimony for God, then the pitchers were dashed together and broken into countless fragments; a broken and a contrite heart is needed if the lamp of heavenly truth is to shine forth in the eyes of the ungodly. Then came the united cry, and the great battle was quickly won. Lips telling out the Gospel with clear trumpet tones, and the light of the knowledge of God shining cut of broken hearts, and Christ, the Word of God uplifted. These are the crying needs of today, and these are God's means of overcoming the forces of evil. Put on the whole armor of God.

V. Complete Victory. "They stood every man in his place round about the camp, and all the host ran, and cried, and fled" (v. 21). Let us inquire as to the source and secret of such a triumph. They were—

1. United. They were as one man with one sword. When the singers were as one then the house was filled with glory (2 Chronicles 5:13). Not only union, but unison is needed (John 17:21).

2. Obedient. "They followed Gideon's example." The wise man is not he who says the will of God, but he who does it (Matthew 7:21; see Psalm 81:13, 14).

3. Faithful. "They stood every man in his place" (v. 21). Only those who truly trust can stand steady (2 Chronicles 20:17). When we take our right place God will take His.

4. Triumphant. God gave them the victory (Zechariah 4:6). When I sent you, lacked you anything? They answered, Nothing (Luke 22:35; 2 Corinthians 9:8). Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, "Rule you over us, for you have delivered us" (chapter 8:22).

So may we crown our Deliverer, Lord of all.

GAAL; or, GODLESS EFFORT. Judges 9:26-49.

Scriptural names are always eloquent of character. "Gaal, the son of Ebed," means the "loathing son of a slave," strongly suggestive of pride and poverty. A man who could not see any one wiser or better than himself. Through his "loathing" eyes he saw others as through a colored glass. True, Abimelech was a murderer (v. 5), but it is not God's way to overcome evil with evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Every servant of Christ may find some wholesome food for thought here. Observe his—

I. Hopeful Start. He was—

1. Trusted. "The men of Shechem put their confidence in him" (v. 26). The men of Shechem were as blind to true moral greatness as Gaal himself. But doubtless his self-confidence would be Considerably augmented by this expression of their faith. Whatever helps to puff us up helps us to our ruin as workers for Jesus Christ.

2. Feasted. "They did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech" (v. 27). Carnal delights make a poor preparation for the service of God. Gideon's men were tested and sifted before the conflict, but Gaal's followers were rested and feasted. Instead of praying they cursed. The gladness of the Lord in the heart is greater than that begotten by corn and wine (Psalm 4:7). Material good does not always mean spiritual prosperity.

II. Courageous Stand. He was—

1. Defiant. "And Gaal said, Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem that we should serve him?" (v. 28). This sounds like the clarion note of a God-raised reformer, but it was nothing but the vain wind of a self-conceited bigot. It is easy even for the Christian worker to talk defiantly of the forces opposed to the progress of the soul, and of the kingdom of God among men, but everything depends on the ground of our boasting (1 Samuel 14:6).

2. Self-Confident. "Would to God that this people were under my hand, then would I remove Abimelech" (v. 29). O these mighty my's and I's, the progeny of pride and self-confidence. How would it look to put this language in a more logical form? Would to God that I were God. We naturally shrink from this, but self-confidence is a denial of God, and the forerunner of destruction (2 Samuel 15:4). "Pride goes before a fall."

III. Utter Defeat. "Abimelech chased him, and he fled; and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren" (vv. 40, 41). That his work was an ignominious failure need not be wondered at when we consider the God-dishonoring motives that constrained him. Be sure your secret sin will find you out in public defeat. It was not the cause espoused by Gaal and his compatriots that was bad, quite the reverse, but that he undertook it in his own name, without the call of God. Jephthah and Gideon accomplished great deliverances because God was with them. The secret of Gaal's failure is still the secret of the failure of many of the Lord's professed servants. There was—

1. No Acknowledgment of God. If we would have His blessing on our work it must be done in His Name. The self-satisfied soul of Gaal had no room for God. It was so different with Moses, David, and Gideon. Some are afraid honestly to acknowledge God lest He should put His foot in all their plans and purposes, so instead of getting their Christless purposes crushed in infancy they get them trodden under foot of God in the full strength of their maturity.

2. No Revelation from God. It is not easy continually to recognize God in our work if we have not had from God a revelation of that work. Gaal had no message from the Lord burning in his heart. Like Absalom, he was self-ordained, and God-deposed. Where there is no vision there is no "Here I am, send me." Where there is no voice from Heaven there is no "What will you have me to do?"

3. No Inspiration by God. The Spirit of the Lord clothed both Gideon and Jephthah (Judges 6:34; 11:29), but Gaal's inspiration came from the wine cup (v. 27). The one is from above, the other is from beneath; the one is of life, the other of death. "You shall receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto Me" (Acts 1:8). Of how much of our service for the Lord may it be said: There is no revelation, no inspiration? Of so much may it be said: There is no victory.


"God never meant that man should scale the Heaven 
By, strides of human wisdom. In His works, 
Though wondrous, He commands us in His Word 
To seek Him rather where His mercy shines."—Cowper.

The names of Gideon and Jephthah have honorable mention by the great apostle in his select roll of the faithful who had "subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, and obtained promises" (Hebrews 11). The story of Jephthah is the story of every converted sinner—a lifting up "from the dunghill, and a setting among princes" (Psalm 113:7). Observe some things concerning him. He—

I. Was Born in Sin. "He was the son of an harlot" (v. 1). "A mighty man of valor," but a child of iniquity. Naaman was a mighty man in valor, but he was a leper (2 Kings 5:1). By birth he was disqualified from entering into the congregation of the Lord (Deuteronomy 23:2). "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?"

II. Was Disinherited. "They thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, You shall not inherit in our father's house" (v. 2). His right to inherit by succession was destroyed through his father's sin (Deuteronomy 21:16). By one man's disobedience many have been made sinners. "The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9). Adam's sin drove him out of his inheritance in the garden of Eden, and all his posterity have been born outside. If we would have an inheritance among them that are sanctified it must be by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:18).

III. Became a Companion of the Vain. "Then Jephthah fled, and there were gathered vain men to him" (v. 3). Like a sheep gone astray, he turned to his own way. It would appear that he now became a brigand, or freebooter, an antitype of Rob Roy of modern history. Such were some of us. When deprived of hope we plunged into the abyss of a reckless, selfish life. Seeking to drown remorse with the excitement of sinful pleasures. A man is known by the company he keeps. "Bird of a feather flock together." "And being let go, they went to their own company" (Acts 4:23).

IV. Received an Important Invitation. "The elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Come and be our captain" (vv. 5,6). These elders no doubt saw in this daring son of the wilds gifts and qualifications that, if rightly directed, might be of immense value to the cause of God and of His people—what the early disciples would certainly see in the gifted, but Christ-hating Saul, and who would doubtless make many an appeal to Heaven for his conversion. The call came to Jephthah as the call of the Gospel came to us, "while we were yet sinners." Like the Gospel call, it was an invitation to join the ranks of the Lord's people, from whom sin had separated him, and to fight the Lord's battles. Will you come? "Him that comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).

V. Covenanted with the Lord. "And Jephthah uttered all his words before the Lord in Mizpah" (v. 11). This unexpected but gracious call that came to him seems to have had the effect of making him feel his need of being reconciled to God, and of serving in His Name and strength. If the Gospel of Christ has not had such a transforming influence on our lives we have never yet known it. No matter how unique and outstanding our gifts and abilities may be before we turn to the Lord, if we would be used in His service, these must be wholly yielded to Him, or they can only prove barriers to the progress of His kingdom. It is not the strong heart, but the broken heart that God will not despise. "A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).

VI. Was Endued with Power. "Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah" (v. 29). The Spirit of the Lord did not come upon him until he had yielded himself to the Lord, and made full confession, by "uttering all his words before the Lord," (v. 11). It is not to the naturally courageous, but to the consecrated that the gift of the power of the Holy Spirit is given (Acts 1:8). He who has the gift of the Spirit has a great gift, no matter what other gifts he has not. No matter what our needs are—wisdom, strength, holiness, etc.—God's one and all-sufficient provision is imparted by the gift of the Spirit. By Him Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).

VII. Gained the Victory. "And the Lord delivered them into his hands" (v. 32). He is fit now to have them delivered into his hands, as he himself is now in the hands of God, that no flesh should glory in His presence. Jephthah is another illustration of God using things which are despised (v. 2). There is room enough in the grace of God for the most wayward and helpless. There is also sufficiency here for the hitherto barren and unfruitful. We are not saved by our works, neither are we used in the service of God because of our superior gifts or past eventful experience. It is all of grace, and His grace is sufficient for all. Without the living energy of the Holy Spirit within we shall achieve nothing. "Be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). He has said "My Grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

SAMSON'S BIRTH. Judges 13:1-25.

"Choose You for me, Lord. O have not me to choose! 
I know not what to ask or to refuse; 
You know poverty, You know wealth, 
Languor of sickness, confidence of health; 
Choose for me, Lord, I know not what is best, 
You are too just to wrong—on You I rest."

When we trust the Lord to choose our daily inheritance for us (Psalm 47:4) we shall surely have a goodly portion. The gifts of God are all God-like, worthy of Himself. The Lord appeared unto the wife of Manoah, and promised her a son (v. 3). She simply believed the message, and expected that since He had promised He was also able to perform. On the ground of His Word we may confidently expect what humanly speaking is perfectly impossible (Mark 10:27). The birth of Samson suggests to us an illustration of the new birth of a soul.

I. He was the Gift of God (v. 3). What they could not do through the weakness of the flesh, God in grace accomplished. Of the new nature it is said, "Born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). Every regenerated soul is the gift of God to a dark and desolate world, another light in its darkness, another witness for God.

II. He was Born Free from Hereditary Defect. The mother was solemnly warned to "drink not wine nor strong drink, and to eat not any unclean thing" (v. 4). The physical body, as the temple of this God-given spirit, must be pure and worthy of it. Those who would travail in birth for souls must take heed to their manner of life, and touch not the unclean. This is the human side; there is another: "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." The soul that is born from above, born of God, cannot possess any hereditary blemish. Such is made a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). "Whatever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (1 John 3:9).

III. His Birth was Connected with Sacrifice and Wonder-working. "The offering was put upon a rock, and the angel did wondrously, and ascended in the flame of the altar" (vv. 19, 20). Observe these three things: (1) The offering; (2) the wonder-working; (3) the ascension by way of the altar flame. How suggestive all this is of the death, and resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ our Lord, by the virtue of which every child of God is born. His offering upon the Cross, the wonder working of His resurrection power and glory, His ascension into Heaven, with the marks of the Cross in His hands and feet, just as it were "in the flame of the altar." "Manoah and his wife looked on, and fell on their faces to the ground" (v. 20). So well may we at this great sight (Ezekiel 1:28).

IV. He was Separated unto God. "The child shall be a Nazarite unto God" (v. 5). His separation was not by vow, but by birth (Numbers 6:5). If we have been "born of God," created anew in Christ Jesus, surely that is enough in itself to teach us that we should be separated in our lives from a world of sin and iniquity. Separation has two aspects. 1. We are separated by the will of God, according to His purpose with us (Leviticus 20:24). 2. We are to be separated by our own definite act, a deliberate and continual choice of God's will concerning us (2 Corinthians 6:17). When the precious is separated from the vile, then the testimony will be as the mouth of God (Jeremiah 15:19). It was after Abraham was separated from worldly Lot that God came with His promise (Genesis 13; 14).

V. He was Blessed by the Lord. "And the child grew, and the Lord blessed him" (v. 24). His name was called Samson—sunny. Like the sun. The separated life is a blessed life, made sunny with the brightness of His presence. Is all this not needed by us if we are to grow like as our Savior did, "in favor with God and man?" (Luke 2:52). Many of Samson's acts and sayings reveal an almost playfulness of spirit that seems to indicate a bright sunny disposition. A sunny life is a powerful life. "The joy of the Lord is your strength."The separated life is to be a sunny life. Such was the life of our blessed Lord and Savior—separated, shiny. Though His face was marred, the light of His life was unsullied. The blessing of the Lord it makes rich. It made Samson rich in cheerfulness and strength, and according to Hebrews 11:32 he was made strong through faith. "According to your faith be it unto you."

VI. He was Moved by the Spirit. "The Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times" (v. 25). These periodical agitatings of heart by the Spirit of God were premonitory indications of the purposes of God with him, and an inward witness of his separation unto the Lord. It is of the utmost importance that those who have separated themselves unto God should recognize the agitatings of the Holy Spirit in the heart. What may appear to be but a passing thought or feeling may be nurtured into a mighty and far-reaching purpose. The glories of midday splendor are ushered in by what seems to be but struggling rays of light. As soon as Jesus separated Himself unto the will of God as His Servant He was led by the Spirit (Matthew 4:1). They live a spiritually monotonous life indeed who know nothing of the moving of the waters of the soul, early, by the brooding Spirit of God. The victorious Christian can say with Paul "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).


"What Heaven bestows, with thankful eyes receive; 
First ask your heart, and then through faith believe; 
Slowly we wander o'er a toilsome way, 
Shadows of life, and pilgrims of a day. 
Who restless on this world receives a fall,
Look up on high, and trust your God for all."—Chaucer.

The fuller the cup the more easily is it to spill the contents. The higher the spiritual privilege the more need for lowliness of walk before God. The stronger we are the greater the temptation to trust in our strength. The more frequently the Spirit of God moves us the more powerfully will the world and the flesh oppose us. The life of Samson alternates with light and shade. A Nazarite who seemed to be partially unconscious of the sacredness of his life, a fatal flaw in his character as a servant in the work of God. "Know you not that Christ dwells in you?" Let us look at his—

I. Amazing Exploits. "He rent a young lion like a kid" (chapter 14:6). "With the jawbone of an donkey he slew a thousand men" (chapter 15:15). "He carried away the gates of the city of Gaza" (chapter 16:3). In Samson that promise was literally fulfilled: "One man of you shall chase a thousand" (Joshua 23:10). It is as easy for God to work with one man as with three hundred (Judges 7:7). Samson had no followers; he asked for none. He alone was commissioned and empowered; he alone must do it. In olden times God usually began with one man. Jesus began with two (John 1:37). We will never do exploits for God if we wait on others to help us. One man in the power of the Spirit is always equal to the occasion. "Greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world." The weapons used by Samson were worthy of the mighty Spirit of the Lord. "Foolish and base things" (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

II. Superhuman Strength. "Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray you, wherein your great strength lies" (chapter 16:6); Samson was not a giant; his great strength did not, therefore, lie in an arm of flesh. No human muscle can be developed into spiritual power. The secret of his great strength lay in the presence of the Almighty Spirit of God with him, as one consecrated to the will of God. "You shall receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto Me" (Acts 1:8). This is still the secret of the great strength of any servant of Jesus Christ, and it may be yours. This great strength cannot be purchased by intellectual wisdom or social position. It is the gift of God (Acts 8:18-20), and should be to our souls what our physical strength is to our bodies, only in a superhuman degree, the mighty power of God.

III. Sore Temptation. "She pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death" (chapter 16:16). You will notice that the whole force of this temptress' energy is brought to bear upon that one thing that distinguished Samson from other men, "Wherein your great strength lies" (v. 15). In falling in love with Delilah he deliberately steps into the fires of trial. This was clearly an unequal yoke; from the very first she sought his ruin as a Nazarite (vv. 5, 6), and proved herself an enemy to the divine purpose in the life of Samson. It is a melancholy sight to see one trifling so with the secret of his power for God. Unholy alliances are deadly enemies to spiritual power. Whatever would mar our relationship with God must be looked upon as the poison of a serpent. Our strongest point for God will be the point most incessantly assaulted by the devil and the Spirit-resisting world. "Call upon Me in the day of trouble" (Psalm 50:15).

IV. Complete Failure. "She made him sleep upon her knees; and he awoke, and said, I will go out, as at other times, and shake myself. But he knew not that the Lord was departed from him" (chapter 16:19, 20). While he slept his locks were cut off, and his strength went from him. He shakes himself as at other times, but it is only himself he shakes. The mighty enemy-shaking power of the presence of the Lord was gone. He is now but a withered branch, fit to be cast into the fire at the hands of men (John 15:6). When the Spirit of God is grieved our defense as servants is gone (Numbers 14:9). When the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, at that moment he began to fall (1 Samuel 18:12). His strength lay not in his locks, but that head that had never felt the touch of a razor was a witness of his consecration to the will of God. In losing his hair he lost his testimony for God. The power of the Spirit of God alone can make us true witnesses for Christ. Without this we may shake ourselves in feverish effort, but this will only reveal our utter weakness. For a servant of Christ to be as weak as other men is doing dishonor to the Spirit of God. Samson is not the only servant of God who has lost his power through worldliness and self-indulgence (v. 19). Much of the powerless preaching of today may be traced to the same cause. No one can possibly fail in the work of the Lord who lives and acts in the power of the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:13).

V. Terrible Bondage. "The Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison-house" (chapter 16:21). He was betrayed by the woman whom he loved, and on whose knees he slept the fatal sleep. The pleasures of sin always deliver over its votaries to spiritual blindness and bondage. Poor Samson. How are the mighty fallen! Let us take warning, and beware of worldly pleasures that ensnare the soul to the grieving of the Holy Spirit. Is there none among us whose service for God and His Christ is performed under the same conditions as Samson worked in the prison-house of Gaza? Blind and fettered servants, to whom the house of prayer becomes as a prison, a place to be got out of as soon as possible. We have neither eyes to see nor liberty to serve, unless we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Apart from this the Lord's work will become a drudgery and a slavery. Prison grinders instead of triumphant warriors.

VI. Final Victory. "And Samson called unto the Lord," etc. (chapter 16:28-30). Out of the depths of his sorrow and helplessness he cried unto the Lord. This is the only time we read of him acknowledging the Lord. His urgent and pitiful request is granted. "His hair began to grow again" (v. 22); his separation unto God began to appear once more. If we have lost our power for God there is only one way whereby it can be restored—confession and fresh consecration. Samson's dying cry was for one more manifestation of the old power, that he might die as a victor; and like Jesus Christ, our unfailing Conqueror, by the grace of God he overcame more by his death than his life. Our own restoration to God must precede the ingathering of souls (Psalm 51:12, 13).


"The highest honors that the world can boast
Are subjects far too low for my desire; 
Its brightest gleams of glory are, at most,
But dying sparkles of Your living fire; 
Without You, Lord, things be not what they be, 
Nor have their being when compared with Thee."

"In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (chapter 17:6). Our own eyes are about the poorest guides under Heaven. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool." These chapters tell a sorrowful tale of social, religious, and moral corruption. What foolish and sinful creatures we are when the guiding hand of God is not with us! Such were some of us, but you are washed. The old self-life, even religious life, is just the doing of that which is right in our own eyes. When Saul said, "What will You have me to do?" he had given up walking in the light of his own eyes. The nameless young man brought before us here is worthy of close study on account of—

I. Character. "A young man who was a Levite" (chapter 17:7). According to Numbers 8 the Levites were called of God, separated and sanctified for the work of the Lord. Their work was to look after the different parts of the Tabernacle when the pillar of cloud moved, and to rebuild this House of God. They were God's separated ones for His own service (Numbers 4:15-33).

II. Purpose. "He said, I go to sojourn where I may find a place" (chapter 17:9). He is on the outlook for a call; he has no desire to spend the time in idleness. He is an industrious and perhaps conscientious young man; hoping that if he could only find a place he might be helpful in some way. It is a sure sign that the House of God is in ruins when the professed servants of God are seeking work at the hands of men. It was otherwise in the days of Moses and Joshua; it was otherwise also in the days of Christ and His apostles. It is the Lord of the harvest who is to send out laborers. Pray you Him (Matthew 9:38). How often young men are pleaded with to go. Why not pray the Lord the Spirit to send them? (Acts 13:2).

III. First Call. "Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a priest, and I will give you ten shekels of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and your victuals. So he went in" (chapter 17:10). Tired of his itinerancy, he accepted the first offer. It was not a large place, only a small congregation (one family), and a small salary. The living was worth about 1 a year with board and lodgings. He had been doing nothing for a while, "so he went in." Although the loaves were small and the fishes few, there would be connected with the charge some personal dignity and profit. Had he not been a traitor to God he could not have ministered in such a house, for it was full of idols (v. 5), and Micah himself was a superstitious idolater. But doubtless the "ten shekels," etc., shut the mouth of the Levite. He is more concerned about his own personal advantage than the cause of God. A mere hireling (chapter 18:4).

IV. Ordination. "And Micah consecrated the Levite" (chapter 17:11-13). The root idea of consecration seems to be to "fill the hands," so that the worship or service may be abundantly acceptable in the sight of God (1 Chronicles 29:5, marg.). This was the chief aspect in the consecration of Aaron and his sons. Then how could Micah, a worshiper of idols, fill the hands of the Levite with that which is pleasing unto God? No more can you, except you are filled with the Holy Spirit. But the young minister seemed perfectly satisfied with this hollow and empty consecration. What is the value of such empty hands laid on the empty head of him who has an empty heart? ''Without Me you can do nothing."

V. Translation. Then the Danites said unto him, "Hold your peace, and go with us; it is better for you to be a priest to a tribe than to one man. And the priest's heart was glad, and he went" (chapter 18:19, 20). This was a call to a larger sphere of labor on the condition that he should "hold his peace" and not expose their criminal craftiness. He accepted the call, virtually promising to keep his mouth shut on the sin of stealing. A man-made minister is only a minister after man (see Galatians 1:10-12). If a man has no revelation from God he has no commission from Him. We must see Jesus if we are to be witnesses for Him. The fear of man brings a snare. An enlarged sphere of usefulness did not improve in any way the faithless Levite; it only served to show more fully his godless and time-serving spirit. Higher positions and larger congregations are not enough to make a successful ministry. A self-seeking servant of Christ will always be powerless in the presence of ungodliness and open iniquity.

VI. Successors. "The children of Dan set up the graven image; and Jonathan and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan" (chapter 18:30, 31). The unprincipled young Levite suddenly drops out of sight as a lifeless, worthless thing. He has wrought no reform among the idolatrous Danites; he has left no faithful example behind him. He came as an unclean bird, devoured so much flesh, and flew off we know not where. But Micah's graven image still stands in their midst and usurps the place of the God of Israel. His successor was no better than himself. In this instance it was "like people, like priest." The utter worthlessness of an unspiritual ministry is here revealed, the need of being baptized in the Holy Spirit is strongly implied (John 15:16, 26, 27).



DISCLAIMER: Before you "go to the commentaries" go to the Scriptures and study them inductively (Click 3 part overview of how to do Inductive Bible Study) in dependence on your Teacher, the Holy Spirit, Who Jesus promised would guide us into all the truth (John 16:13). Remember that Scripture is always the best commentary on Scripture. Any commentary, even those by the most conservative and orthodox teacher/preachers cannot help but have at least some bias of the expositor based upon his training and experience. Therefore the inclusion of specific links does not indicate that we agree with every comment. We have made a sincere effort to select only the most conservative, "bibliocentric" commentaries. Should you discover some commentary or sermon you feel may not be orthodox, please email your concern. I have removed several links in response to concerns by discerning readers. I recommend that your priority be a steady intake of solid Biblical food so that with practice you will have your spiritual senses trained to discern good from evil (Heb 5:14-note).