Judges 3:1 Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan;

NOW THESE ARE THE NATIONS WHICH THE LORD LEFT TO TEST ISRAEL BY THEM: (Deuteronomy 8:2,16; 2Chronicles 32:31; Job 23:10; Proverbs 17:3; Jeremiah 6:27; 17:9,10; Zechariah 13:9; John 2:24; 1Peter 1:7; 4:12; Revelation 2:23 )

Test (nacah) here refers to testing which shows what someone is really like & generally involves difficulty or hardship. Are you being tested by the "nations" (cp "the world system" - see Word Study on Kosmos) now? How are you faring? Are you losing heart and tempted to give up?

Nacah - all 34 OT uses- Ge 22:1; Ex. 15:25; 16:4; 17:2, 7; 20:20; Num. 14:22; Deut. 4:34; 6:16; 8:2, 16; 13:3; 28:56; 33:8; Jdg. 2:22; 3:1, 4; 6:39; 1 Sam. 17:39; 1 Ki. 10:1; 2 Chr. 9:1; 32:31; Job 4:2; Ps. 26:2; 78:18, 41, 56; 95:9; 106:14; Eccl. 2:1; 7:23; Isa. 7:12; Dan. 1:12, 14 - note first use when God tested Abraham Genesis 22:1)

The Septuagint (LXX) translates the Hebrew verb nacah with peirazo [word study].

Sometimes we wonder why God didn’t remove all the enemies from the Promised Land before He let the children of Israel go in. But in these verses (Jdg 3:1, 2, 3, 4) we see that God had a definite reason. He uses the results of our lack of faith in Him to prove to us our sin and weakness. He does not forget His covenant, but He allows our very weakness, our guilty weakness, to drive us back to Him. God wanted the chosen people to realize that they were a holy people. They must not mix with the wicked nations about them. They must continually separate themselves. God knew that separation makes a people strong. Christians today must remember that they cannot mix with the world. They must keep close to God and war against sin and unrighteousness. God wants us to be good warriors. And so we see that an uncritical toleration toward a people so utterly corrupt resulted in the undoing of God’s chosen people.

Judges 3:7-11 Mesopotamians 8 Othniel
Judges 3:12-30 Moabites 18 Ehud
Judges 3:31 Philistines - Shamgar
Judges 4:1-5:31 Canaanites 20 Deborah and Barak
Judges 6:1-8:32 Midianites 7 Gideon
Judges 8:33-10:5 Abimelech 3 Tola and Jair
Judges 10:6-12:15 Ammonites 18 Jephthah and successors
Judges 13:1-16:31 Philistines 40 Samson

Joshua had no successor. After his death, each tribe acted independently. There was no capital and no fixed government. There was no unity of action, except in the time of danger when the tribes combined for their own good. When the people sinned against God, their enemies defeated them and ruled them. When in their distress they sought the Lord, He sent judges who delivered them. God is always brooding over His disobedient children. He promises us that He will never leave us nor forsake us (He 13:5-note). We see defeat on our part but deliverance on God’s part. “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Ro 5:20-note). We see His dealings with His own rebellious people whom He has crowned with His best blessings and upon whom He has lavished His tender love. We find the patience of God and His constant readiness to respond to the least sign of penitence in His people (Judges 3:9, 15; Jdg 4:3, 4, 5, 6,7, 6:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 10:15, 16-see notes Judges 4; Judges 6; Judges 10). He repeated His mercy again and again although it was never appreciated. If you think on these things it will draw you nearer to this God of mercy and love and grace. Look up, repent and trust God.

We have found that God fulfilled His purpose for Israel by leaving around them in Canaan a circle of strong tribes unlike each other. It is said,

“These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan… They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their forefathers through Moses” (Judges 3:1, 4).

Look up each cross reference (at the end of this paragraph) to discern why God "tested Israel" and then NT parallels to allow one to apply God's testing of Israel to the believer's life today. This exercise might greatly encourage you if you are currently going through the REFINER'S FIRE & questioning whether God even loves you or cares. Ask God to open these verses to you that you might know what are His purposes when He sends TESTS into your life -- Ex 16:4, Dt 8:2-4, 5, 16, Ex 20:20, Ps 26:2, Mal 3:10 Pr 17:3. Parallel with He 11:17 [note] (Ge 22:1, 11), Re 2:2-note, Re 2:10-note, 2Ti 2:15-note, 1Co 9:27).

The Septuagint often translates the Hebrew word for test, nacah with peirazo (See word study of peirazo), a morally neutral word simply meaning “to test” Whether the testing is for good (He 11:17 [note], Ge 22:11) or evil (Mt 4:1) depends on the intent of the one giving the test. Obviously God does not tempt anyone to evil (James 1:13-note) so His purpose was to discern what was in their heart.

Is God bending, shaping, or polishing me right now? What's my attitude: Am I thanking and praising God, or am I complaining about the process?

Trials are intended not to provoke us but to prove us.



The Steinway piano has been preferred by keyboard masters such as Rachmaninoff, Horowitz, Cliburn, and Liszt--and for good reason. It is a skillfully crafted instrument that produces phenomenal sound.

Steinway pianos are built today the same way they were 140 years ago when Henry Steinway started his business. Two hundred craftsmen and 12,000 parts are required to produce one of these magnificent instruments. Most crucial is the rim-bending process, where 18 layers of maple are bent around an iron press to create the shape of a Steinway grand. Five coats of lacquer are applied and hand-rubbed to give the piano its outer glow. The instrument then goes to the Pounder Room, where each key is tested 10,000 times to ensure quality and durability. Followers of Jesus Christ are also being "handcrafted." We are pressed and formed and shaped to make us more like Him. We are polished, sometimes in the rubbing of affliction, until we "glow." We are tested in the laboratory of everyday human experience. The process is not always pleasant, but we can persevere with hope, knowing that our lives will increasingly reflect the beauty of holiness to the eternal praise of God.


Compare Jdg 2:10 (note) for parallel = they did not know the LORD or His mighty deeds. The implication is that it was through their experience of wars the prior generation had come to know God as the Almighty, Omnipotent God. And in Judges 3:2 the explanation is that Israel might be taught war… but ultimately the battle is the Lord's so to learn war is to learn about God & His ways. And in Judges 3:4 the testing was to determine if Israel would obey God as their fathers had (cp Jdg 2:21, 22, 23 - notes Jdg 2:21; 22; 23).


Something Else To Serve - If you were to spend 26 hours a week staring at the same object, what would you call that? If you were so mesmerized by what you saw that you couldn't tear yourself away from it, what would it become to you? If you let it change the way you think and act, would it be too powerful? If you let this object show and tell you things that you knew were wrong and that God didn't want you to be involved with, would it be replacing Him? Wouldn't that be called an idol?

The average American family spends 26 hours a week watching television. It certainly isn't the only idol we have in our society, but it's one of the most powerful. Other things that might be displacing our devotion to God are sports, money, work, hobbies, or even other people. Perhaps music or movies or the Internet has captured our devotion.

Idols come in various forms, and they can control our lives. When they do, we need to look again at God's anger with the Israelites to see what He thinks of idols. They served Baals and Asherahs (Jud. 3:7), and "the anger of the Lord was hot" against them (v.8).

Let's check our devotion. Have we given our allegiance to anything other than the Almighty God who created us? We should serve nothing but Him. — Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

The gods of this world are empty and vain,
They cannot give peace to our heart;
The living and true One deserves all our love--
From Him may we never depart. —DJD

An idol is anything that takes the place of God.

Judges 3:2 only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly).

ONLY IN ORDER THAT THE GENERATIONS OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL MIGHT BE TAUGHT WAR (cp Ex 13:17) (Genesis 2:17; 3:5,7; 2Chronicles 12:8; Matthew 10:34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39; John 16:33; 1Corinthians 9:26,27; Ephesians 6:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18; 1Timothy 6:12; 2Timothy 2:3; 4:7 )

Temptations and trials detect the wickedness of the hearts of sinners; and strengthen the graces of believers today in their daily conflict with Satan, flesh [the main, root problem], and this evil world. They must live in this world, but they are not of it and are forbidden to conform to it

But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal 6:14-note)

Do not love (present imperative with a negative = stop doing this) the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever. (1Jn 2:15-note, 1Jn 2:16-note, 1Jn 2:17-note)

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jas 4:4-note)

And do not be conformed (present imperative with a negative = stop doing this) to this world, but be transformed (present imperative = keep on continually allowing this transformation to take place by yielding to the Spirit and the Word) by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Ro 12:2-note).

Friendship of the world is more fatal than its enmity; the latter can only kill the body, but the former murders many precious souls.

for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. (2Ti 4:10-note)

Gary Inrig explains that…

The Lord uses those difficulties to teach us how to wage spiritual war. He wants to shake us out of our apathy and teach us to trust Him. Often it is only when the enemy has run all over us, and our resources are gone, that we develop a teachable spirit. There are times in our lives when the roof gets blown off, and everything seems to fall to pieces. Those times of failure and crisis become teaching times as the Lord shows us how to make war—how to trust Him.

The implication of this strategy of God in our lives is clear. We cannot stand still in our Christian experience. There are enemies to be faced. There is ground to be gained. If we try to stand still, we can be sure that the principalities and powers, against which we contend, do not. Either we advance, or we perish. There are areas of need in our lives. There is ground to be won in our families and churches. And as long as we live in a world of more than 4 billion people, more than half of whom have never heard of the Lord Jesus, we cannot stand still. We cannot stand by while men and women rush toward hell. (Inrig, G: Hearts of Stone, Feet of Clay. Moody - Highly Recommended)


With the basic conquest completed, Joshua was told (Jos 13:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) to begin the allotment of the land that remained to be possessed. This allocation is described in Jos 13-21 (the main section given in Jos 14-19). Although Joshua had done a great work, great work remained to be done. This is always the case-"God's workers die, but His work goes on." As predicted in Ex. 23:27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, the complete conquest was to be a gradual process. The area yet to be subdued by the tribes is described in Jos 13:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, moving from S to N.

Austin-Sparks wrote that…

“So often in the battle we go to the Lord, and pray, and plead, and appeal for victory, for ascendancy, for mastery over the forces of evil and death, and our thought is that in some way the Lord is going to come in with a mighty exercise of power and put us into a place of victory and spiritual ascendancy as in an act. We must have this mentality corrected. What the Lord does is to enlarge us to possess. He puts us through some exercise, through some experience, takes us by some way which means our spiritual expansion, and exercise of spirituality so we occupy the larger place spontaneously. ‘I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out before thee, until thou be increased’ (Ex 23:29, 30).

Judges 3:3 These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath.

THESE NATIONS ARE: THE FIVE LORDS OF THE PHILISTINES: (Jdg 10:7; 14:4; Joshua 13:3; 1Samuel 4:1,2; 6:18; 13:5,19, 20, 21, 22, 23; 29:2 )

The famous Philistine pentapolis was composed of (1) Gaza, strategically located a few miles from the Mediterranean and controlling the Maritime Plain and caravan routes to Egypt and Arabia. (2) Ekron. This was a very wealthy market in the valley of Sorek, close to Danite territory. (3) Ashdod was on the main road to Joppa and lay E. of Lydda. (4) Askelon was a strong fort on the coast, controlling principal caravan routes. (5) Gath was N.E. of Gaza and bordered on the Shephelah.

AND ALL THE CANAANITES AND THE SIDONIANS AND THE HIVITES WHO LIVED IN MOUNT LEBANON, FROM MOUNT BAAL-HERMON AS FAR AS LEBO-HAMATH. (Canaanites - Jdg 4:2,23,24; Genesis 10:15, 16, 17, 18, 19; Numbers 13:29) (Sidonians - Jdg 10:12; 18:7; Ge 49:13; Joshua 11:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; 19:28) (Mt Lebanon - Numbers 34:8; Deuteronomy 1:7; 3:9; Joshua 11:3; 13:5)

Judges 3:4 And they were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses.


A key parallel passage to help understand God's "TESTS" is in Hebrews 12 (He 12:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 - see notes He 12:5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12) where "discipline" = “child training” and refers to the process God uses to mature us and make us more like Jesus Christ. He tests us to bring out the best in us, but Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us. If we persist in disobeying God, He will discipline us to bring us to submission. This is an act of love, a Father maturing a child and not a Judge punishing a criminal (Pr 3:11,12).

The story is told of an old man who was traveling on an ocean liner, when a huge storm blew up without warning. One woman lost her balance and fell overboard. People stood frozen with horror. Suddenly, a man plunged into the waves, grabbed her, and held her until a rescue boat came. When they were pulled out, everyone was astonished and embarrassed to discover that the hero was the oldest man on the boat—a man in his eighties. That evening they held a party to honor him. When they called on him to make a speech, the old man rose slowly. He looked around at the people, then said, "I would like to know just one thing." There was an embarrassed silence. "Who pushed me?" Sometimes that is the only way we start moving. The Lord will keep pushing us out of our complacency, out of the second-generation syndrome, into a fresh, vital experience of walking with the Lord Jesus. Are you already moving, or do you need a push?


What were some of those commands? See Dt 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5 for example

"When the LORD your God shall bring you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and shall clear away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you,

2 and when the LORD your God shall deliver them before you, and you shall defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them.

3 "Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons.

4 "For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you.

5 "But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.

God had made it very clear to the Jews that they were not to study “comparative religion” and get interested in the pagan practices of the Canaanites. It was that kind of curiosity that had brought divine judgment on Israel in the land of Moab (Nu 25), because curiosity is often the first step toward conformity. Of course, Israel should have been a witness to the surviving pagan nations and sought to win them to faith in the true and living God, but they failed in that responsibility as well. What a difference it would have made in subsequent national history if the Jews had won the Canaanites to the Lord instead of the Canaanites winning the Jews to Baal!

Judges 3:5 And the sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites;


Judges 3:5-7 summarizes the total helplessness of Israel. We find the Israelites settling among the Syrian nations. They seemed too ready to live at peace with these other nations and to yield not a little for the sake of peace. They intermarried to make their position safer. They traded with the Amorites, Hivites and Perizzites. They determined on boundary lines to make things run smoothly. Next they accepted their neighbors’ religion (Jdg 3:7) and then their bad customs. She lives among the pagans, intermarries with the pagans, apes the pagan worship of the pagans and so a "generation's degeneration" is complete.

Living among the pagans was a direct violation of the commands of God… instead of destroying the enemies, they surrounded themselves with them! Rebellion is really stupid when seen in such a dramatic context (see consequences below v6-8). But let us not be too critical of Israel -- we need to continually remember that these things happened as an example that we should not follow (1Co 10:6, 11, Ro 15:4-see note Ro 15:4).

God has not changed. He still judges rebellion. We have the advantage of "time compression" so to speak and can see what their rebellion cost them years later.

What sin are you committing today that will cost you or your loved ones years later?

Do not be deceived, we will reap what we sow.

We must all be brutally honest in our self examination. God desires to bless His people but if they refuse to obey, He must punish them because He is holy and because discipline begins in the household of the Lord. So again the question is:

Do you live among any "enemies"? Have you in fact surrounded yourself with them? Be honest.

God had put a wall between Israel and her neighbors, not because Israel was better than any other nation, but because she was different or at least supposed to be different. Instead of worshiping idols, the Jews worshiped the one true God who made the heavens and the earth. Humans did not devise the laws and covenants of Israel; God did. Israel alone had the true sanctuary, where God dwelt in His glory; it was the true priesthood, ordained by God; and it had the true altar and sacrifices that God would respect (Ro 9:4, 5- see notes Ro 9:4; 5). Only through Israel would all the nations of the earth be blessed (Ge 12:1, 2, 3). When Israel obeyed the Lord, He blessed them richly; and both their conduct and God’s blessing were a testimony to their unbelieving neighbors. (Ge 23:6; 26:26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33; 30:27; 39:5) The pagan people would say, “These Jews are different! The God they worship and serve is a great God!” And the Jewish people would then have had opportunities to tell their neighbors how to trust Jehovah and receive His forgiveness and blessing. (Dt 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.)

Alas, instead of trusting God to change their neighbors, the gods of their neighbors changed the Jews; and everything Moses warned them not to do, they did. The Jews broke down the wall of separation between themselves and their godless neighbors, and the results were tragic. Contrary to God’s law, Jewish men married pagan wives, and Jewish women married pagan husbands (Ge 24:3; 26:34,35; 27:46; Ex 34:15, 16; Dt 7:3,4; Jos 23:12). The idolaters gradually stole the hearts of their mates from worshiping Jehovah to worshiping false gods. King Solomon made this same mistake. After all, when you marry outside the will of God, you have to do something to keep peace in the family! (1Ki 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; 2Co 6:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 2Co 7:1)

THE CANAANITES: (note) (71 uses in OT - Gen. 10:18f; 12:6; 13:7; 15:21; 24:3, 37; 34:30; 38:2; 46:10; 50:11; Exod. 3:8, 17; 6:15; 13:5, 11; 23:23, 28; 33:2; 34:11; Num. 13:29; 14:25, 43, 45; 21:1, 3; 33:40; Deut. 1:7; 7:1; 11:30; 20:17; Jos. 3:10; 5:1; 7:9; 9:1; 11:3; 12:8; 13:3f; 16:10; 17:12f, 16, 18; 24:11; Jdg. 1:1, 3ff, 9f, 17, 27ff, 32f; 3:3, 5; 2 Sam. 24:7; 1 Ki. 9:16; 1 Chr. 2:3; Ezr. 9:1; Neh. 9:8, 24; Job 41:6; Prov. 31:24; Ezek. 16:3; Obad. 1:20; Zech. 14:21)

Remember that at this time all of these people were semi-nomadic and that, even though cities had been established in the land, no single group seems to have had clear possession of them. The term “Canaanites” is used as a general designation of all of the inhabitants of the land at the time of the Israelite conquest.

THE HITTITES: (note) (47 uses in OT - Gen. 15:20; 23:10; 25:9; 26:34; 36:2; 49:29f; 50:13; Exod. 3:8, 17; 13:5; 23:23, 28; 33:2; 34:11; Num. 13:29; Deut. 7:1; 20:17; Jos. 1:4; 3:10; 9:1; 11:3; 12:8; 24:11; Jdg. 1:26; 3:5; 1 Sam. 26:6; 2 Sam. 11:3, 6, 17, 21, 24; 12:9f; 23:39; 1 Ki. 9:20; 10:29; 11:1; 15:5; 2 Ki. 7:6; 1 Chr. 11:41; 2 Chr. 1:17; 8:7; Ezr. 9:1; Neh. 9:8; Ezek. 16:3, 45)

The Hittites, by contrast, were an Indo-European people who established a great empire in Asia Minor during the period from 1800-1200 b.c. On the significance of Hittite archaeological discoveries and their bearing upon patriarchal customs, and especially the significance of suzerainty treaties

THE AMORITES, (note) (86 uses in OT - Gen. 10:16; 14:7, 13; 15:16, 21; 48:22; Exod. 3:8, 17; 13:5; 23:23; 33:2; 34:11; Num. 13:29; 21:13, 21, 25f, 29, 31f, 34; 22:2; 32:33, 39; Deut. 1:4, 7, 19f, 27, 44; 2:24; 3:2, 8f; 4:46f; 7:1; 20:17; 31:4; Jos. 2:10; 3:10; 5:1; 7:7; 9:1, 10; 10:5f, 12; 11:3; 12:2, 8; 13:4, 10, 21; 24:8, 11f, 15, 18; Jdg. 1:34ff; 3:5; 6:10; 10:8, 11; 11:19, 21ff; 1 Sam. 7:14; 2 Sam. 21:2; 1 Ki. 4:19; 9:20; 21:26; 2 Ki. 21:11; 1 Chr. 1:14; 2 Chr. 8:7; Ezr. 9:1; Neh. 9:8; Ps. 135:11; 136:19; Ezek. 16:3, 45; Amos 2:9f)

THE PERIZZITES, (note) (23 uses in OT - Gen. 13:7; 15:20; 34:30; Exod. 3:8, 17; 23:23; 33:2; 34:11; Deut. 7:1; 20:17; Jos. 3:10; 9:1; 11:3; 12:8; 17:15; 24:11; Jdg. 1:4f; 3:5; 1 Ki. 9:20; 2 Chr. 8:7; Ezr. 9:1; Neh. 9:8)

THE HIVITES (note) (25 uses in OT - Gen. 10:17; 34:2; 36:2; Exod. 3:8, 17; 13:5; 23:23, 28; 33:2; 34:11; Deut. 7:1; 20:17; Jos. 3:10; 9:1, 7; 11:3, 19; 12:8; 24:11; Jdg. 3:3, 5; 2 Sam. 24:7; 1 Ki. 9:20; 1 Chr. 1:15; 2 Chr. 8:7)

THE JEBUSITES: (note)(39 uses in OT - Gen. 10:16; 15:21; Exod. 3:8, 17; 13:5; 23:23; 33:2; 34:11; Num. 13:29; Deut. 7:1; 20:17; Jos. 3:10; 9:1; 11:3; 12:8; 15:8, 63; 18:16, 28; 24:11; Jdg. 1:21; 3:5; 19:11; 2 Sam. 5:6, 8; 24:16, 18; 1 Ki. 9:20; 1 Chr. 1:14; 11:4, 6; 21:15, 18, 28; 2 Chr. 3:1; 8:7; Ezr. 9:1; Neh. 9:8; Zech. 9:7)

Judges 3:6 and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.

AND THEY TOOK THEIR DAUGHTERS FOR THEMSELVES AS WIVES: (Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3,4; 1Kings 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; Ezra 9:11,12; Nehemiah 13:23, 24, 25, 26, 27; Ezekiel 16:3)

The Israelites failed God’s test, being enticed into (1) marriages with Canaanites and {2) worship of their gods. Disobedience was repeated frequently through the centuries, and led God to use the Assyrians (2Ki 17:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 2Ki 17:19 = the southern kingdom, 2Ki 17:20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30) and Babylonians (2Ki 24:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20; Following passages describe the 3rd and final siege of Jerusalem = 2Ki 25:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17) to expel them from the land.

To "pass the TEST" believer's today must separate from intimate, "yoke type" association with unbelievers, must not love and must not be conformed to the world…

Do not be bound (present imperative with a negative = stop doing this) together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2Cor 6:14) (See verses at Jdg 3:2-note Judges 3:2 = 1Jn 2:15, Jas 4:4-note , Ro 12:2- note)


The Israelites ignored the warning of Moses (Dt 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. cp 1Kings 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 - where this evil practice reaches its abysmal, destructive "zenith") and intermarried with the pagan, gentile, natives, the consequence being the adoption of their seductive cults.

AND SERVED THEIR GODS (Cp Ps 106:28 - Spurgeon's note):

The Israelites descended three steps in their cultural accommodation to paganism:

(1) they lived among the Canaanites,

(2) they intermarried with them, and

(3) they served their gods, each step naturally leading to the next level of degradation.

Israel's apathy led inexorably to apostasy.

And so too today those who exhibit APATHY to the Word of God (God of the Word) are at risk of sliding into APOSTASY.

It began with intermarriage, which led to idol worship. After all, when you visit your in-laws, you must be polite to their gods! As Israel compromised her call to be holy as God is holy, the surviving pagan nations adopted a “good neighbor” policy toward Israel that eventually defeated Israel from within and led to God's sending enemies from without their borders to oppress them. Sometimes Satan comes as a lion to devour, but often he comes as a serpent to deceive (1Pe 5:8-see note 1Pe 5:8; 2Cor 11:3, Re 12:9, 2Cor 11:3, 13, 14, 15, Ge 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 13, 2Th 2:9, 10, 11, ). The clarion, eternal, call to God's people has always been come out from their midst and be separate and do not touch what is unclean (Isa 52:11, 2Cor 6:17, 2Ti 2:21, 22-see notes 2Ti 2:21; 22).

Judges 3:7 And the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and the Asheroth.


By the time one is finished reading Judges he has had his fill of the cycle of sin. This phrase (evil in the sight of the LORD) occurs 56 times with increasing frequency in Kings & Chronicles… interestingly it is found only 2x in 1 or 2 Samuel! Here are all 56 uses of "evil in the sight of the LORD" (Gen. 38:7; Num. 32:13; Deut. 4:25; 9:18; 17:2; 31:29; Jdg. 2:11; 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1; 1 Sam. 15:19; 2 Sam. 11:27; 1 Ki. 11:6; 14:22; 15:26, 34; 16:19, 25, 30; 21:20, 25; 22:52; 2 Ki. 3:2; 8:18, 27; 13:2, 11; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28; 17:2, 17; 21:2, 6, 16, 20; 23:32, 37; 24:9, 19; 2 Chr. 21:6; 22:4; 29:6; 33:2, 6, 22; 36:5, 9, 12; Jer. 52:2)

Secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven!

How humiliating that the pagan nations Israel imitated were used as the instruments of God’s discipline! The conquerors were now the conquered. They regretted their sufferings, but they did not repent of their sins. They experienced a painful cycle of disobedience, discipline, despair, and deliverance, only to go back into disobedience again.

AND FORGOT (Qal Impf - ignored, became oblivious, ceased to care for - Dt 32:18, cf 1Sa 12:9) THE LORD (see Judges 2:1 note) THEIR GOD: Septuagint (LXX) translates with a verb which means to COMPLETELY FORGET! Note that the forgetting of God precedes the commission of evil.

An illustration - After stopping in Montgomery, Alabama, for gas, Sam drove more than 5 hours before noticing he had left someone behind--his wife. So at the next town he asked police to help him get in touch with her. He admitted with great embarrassment that he just hadn't noticed her absence. It's hard to understand how Sam could forget his wife, but we're not much different in our relationship with God. We actually fail to remember the One Who created us and redeemed us. We're no different from Israel in the OT. If God seems far away, guess who moved?

To forget the Lord involves neglect of his covenant demands, ingratitude for his blessings, and a self-sufficient attitude, which in turn opens the door to idolatry. Moses had given clear warning…

"Then it shall come about when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you shall eat and be satisfied, then watch yourself, lest you forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Deut 6:10-12, cf Deut. 8:10-20; 32:15-18)

Note the progression:

lived in the middle of & surrounded by their enemies >>> intermarried >>> ensnared with their idols >>>did evil in sight of God >>>forgot God (they weren't even "syncretistic"!) (2:12 "forsook" God) >>> served abominable sex gods Baal, Asheroth (2:12 "followed" "bowed") >>>anger of Lord kindled >>> God sold to enemies

Cp Judges 2:13 (note) which is appears to be a SUMMARY STATEMENT: "FORSOOK the LORD and SERVED Baal"

How quickly they went downhill when they failed to obey the first command to be a SEPARATED, HOLY people (cp similar commands to believers 2Cor 6:14, 17, 7:1-note, 1Cor 5:9,11, Ro 16:17, 18-note, Mt 9:9, 10, 11, 12) and have no other gods before Him (Ex 20:3, 4, 5, 1Co 10:14, 1Jn 5:21, Isa 43:10, 42:8). This is a sad but very instructive admonition to modern day believers.

AND SERVED (became enslaved to) THE BAALS (means masters, lords, possessors, husbands): everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

Not one God (monotheism - cf Dt 6:4) but many "gods" (polytheism). Not one Husband (Isa 54:5, Jer 31:32) but many (cf NT Jas 4:4-note)

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. (2Co 11:2)

AND THE ASHEROTH: (Ex 6:25; Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 16:21; 1Kings 16:33; 18:19; 2Kings 23:6,14; 2Chronicles 15:16; 24:18; 33:3,19; 34:3,7). The Septuagint translates it with the Greek word "alsos" which refers to a glade or grove, referring in context to a "sacred" grove or a "hallowed precinct" because that is often where this despicable, detestable, abominable false worship took place.

Asheroth = transliterated from the Hebrew word Asherah use 40 times in OT = Ex 34:13; Deut. 7:5; 12:3; 16:21; Jdg. 3:7; 6:25, 26, 28, 30; 1Ki. 14:15, 23; 15:13; 16:33; 18:19; 2Ki. 13:6; 17:10, 16; 18:4; 21:3, 7; 23:4, 6, 7, 14, 15; 2Chr. 14:3; 15:16; 17:6; 19:3; 24:18; 31:1; 33:3, 19; 34:3, 4, 7; Isa. 17:8; 27:9; Jer. 17:2; Mic 5:14. Notice the prevalence in Judges, Kings and 2Chronicles. It is curiously absent from first and second Samuel, the reigns of Saul and David! Interesting.

Baker writes that Asheroth is

A feminine noun which signifies the Canaanite fertility goddess believed to be the consort of Baal. Because of this association, the worship of Baal and Asherah was often linked together (Jdg. 3:7; 1Ki 18:19; 2Ki 23:4). The noun is most often used for a carved wooden image of the goddess instead of a proper name (Jdg 6:26; 1Ki 14:15). This image was frequently associated with high places and fresh (i.e., green) trees—the latter contributing to the misleading translations of the Septuagint and Vulgate that the word denoted “groves” (Dt. 12:3; 1Ki 14:23; Jer 17:2). The Israelites were commanded by God to cut down and burn the images (Ex 34:13; Dt. 12:3), and occasionally the Israelites took steps to eliminate them (1Ki 15:13; 2Ki 23:4, 6, 7). Nevertheless, throughout much of Israel’s pre-exilic history, false worship was a problem, even to the extent that Asherah’s image was erected in God’s temple itself (2Ki 21:7; Isa. 27:9). (Complete Word Study Dictionary)

Groves or Asherahs, like high places, have been associated w idolatrous worship. Sometimes = "Asherah poles" [NIV] = also the idol enshrined there (Dt 16:21). This idol seems often to have been a sacred tree, the figure of which is constantly found on Assyrian monuments. In apostate Israel, however, such places were associated with every form of idolatry (2Ki 17:16,17). See "high places" (1Ki 3:2), and "Asthoreths" (Jdg 2:13-see note Jdg 2:13).

Judges 3:8 Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into the hands of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years.

THEN THE ANGER OF THE LORD WAS KINDLED AGAINST ISRAEL: (Jdg 2:14,20; Exodus 22:24; Deuteronomy 29:20; Psalms 6:1; 85:3 )

Compare Ps 106:40-45

40 Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against His people, And He abhorred His inheritance. (Spurgeon's comment 40 )

41 Then He gave them into the hand of the nations; And those who hated them ruled over them. (Spurgeon's comment 41)

42 Their enemies also oppressed them, And they were subdued under their power. (Spurgeon's comment 42)

43 Many times He would deliver them; They, however, were rebellious in their counsel, And so sank down in their iniquity. (Spurgeon's comment 43)

44 Nevertheless He looked upon their distress, When He heard their cry; (Spurgeon's comment 44)

45 And He remembered His covenant for their sake, And relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness. (Spurgeon's comment 45)

Anger… kindled is literally "His nose became hot" so the KJV is closer to the literal Hebrew, a most expressive metaphor for the anger and one of the most obvious examples of the anthropomorphisms for God in the OT. This is true righteous anger, fully justified by the actions of Israel in the face of both the truth about Jehovah and the warnings & commands regarding their enemies in the land. Flesh does not like to be told what to do… in the Old Testament or the New Testament (cp Ro 5:12-note, Jn 8:34). That's why a believer needs to know & appropriate the truth of co-crucifixion with Christ & the rendering inoperative of our former master Sin (Ro 6:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7, 8, 9, 10 -see notes Romans 6:1-10 = what you need to know; Ro 6:11-note = what you need to reckon or consider as the truth; Ro 6:12, 13, 14- see notes Ro 6:12; 13; 14 = who you are now to surrender to because you have the power to do so, Cp Gal 5:16, 17, 18- notes Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:17; Galatians 5:18).

Is it any wonder that God became angry? Is it any wonder He humiliated Israel by using pagan nations to discipline His own people? Since Israel was acting like the pagans, God had to treat them like pagans!

“With the kind Thou dost show Thyself kind; With the blameless Thou dost show Thyself blameless; With the pure Thou dost show Thyself pure; And with the crooked Thou dost show Thyself astute.” (Ps 18:25,26). (See Spurgeon's notes Verse 25; Verse 26)

SO THAT HE SOLD THEM: (See the other 2 uses = Jdg 2:14, 10:7 - See notes Judges 2:14;Judges 10:7) (Jdg 4:9; Deuteronomy 32:30; 1Samuel 12:9; Isaiah 50:1; Ro 7:14 )

Sold (makar) means sold or surrender but the Septuagint (LXX) translates with a verb that adds the nuance of paying back what is owed (Israel and sown to the flesh and from the flesh was being paid back with corruption cp Galatians 6:8) and given the meaning of the name (below) of the evil one to whom they were "sold" to, we get a sense of the meaning of (Hosea 8:7 "For they sow the wind, and they reap the whirlwind"), where sowing of the wind reaps multiplied grief pictured by the whirlwind.

Sidlow Baxter comments that…

Israel's servitudes were not just accidents. They were punishments. This is a point for serious consideration. God may confer special privileges on certain persons and nations, but He is no respecter of persons in any sense of indulgence to favourites. Those who sin against extra privilege bear heavier responsibility and incur heavier penalty. God may give many privileges, but He never gives the privilege to sin. Let us beware lest a sense of privilege should beguile our own hearts into the sin of presumption.

As we read this book of Judges we may well feel amazed that such low living could go with such high calling. Yes - high calling and low living! A convention chairman once said: "It is possible to be moral without being spiritual: and it is even possible to be spiritual without being moral!" Paradoxical? Impossible? Yet have we not come across persons knowing the deeper and higher truths of the Christian life, able to converse freely in a most spiritual vein, and who, nevertheless, could stoop to behaviour that the average non-Christian would shrink from in disgust? It is only too easy for familiarity to engender callousness, and then for callousness to be hypocritically covered with an outer garment of seeming spirituality. We must watch and pray, lest we ourselves enter into this temptation…

This recurrent emphasis is meant to do its own work in the reader's mind. Let us read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. There are things in the moral realm which are indissolubly wedded. Sin and suffering always go together. They cannot be divorced. Oh that human hearts might be persuaded of this! It is also true that supplication and salvation are similarly joined. God will be entreated by a true supplication in which there is a putting away of the evil thing; and then He will show His salvation. (J. Sidlow Baxter. Explore the Book)

Davis has some thought provoking comments on this cycle of sin and slavery noting that…

This sequence is not a natural episode of cause and effect but flows from the searing heat of Yahweh’s wrath. We are so accustomed to our secularized, non-revelatory view of history that depicts events as resulting from various observable causes, conditions, and factors, and, paradoxically, we are so familiar with biblical historiography that we fail to recognize how strange biblical (prophetic) history is. Not a tame natural process but blazing supernatural wrath explains Israel’s servitude. Yahweh is the God who makes and orders history. And

“who considers the power of thy anger, / and thy wrath according to the fear of thee?” (Ps. 90:11 RSV - Spurgeon's note).

Yet even here, in Yahweh’s anger, is hope for Israel, for his anger shows that he will not allow Israel to serve Baal unmolested. Yahweh’s wrath is the heat of his jealous love by which he refuses to let go of his people; he refuses to allow his people to remain comfortable in sin. Serving Cushan–rishathaim may not sound like salvation to us — and it isn’t, but, if it forces us to lose our grip on Baal, it may be the beginning of salvation. We must confess that Yahweh’s anger is not good news nor is it bad news but good bad news. It shows that the covenant God who has bound himself to his people will not allow them to become cozy in their infidelity. “Steadfast love” pursues them in their iniquity and is not above inflicting misery in order to awaken them. The burning anger of Yahweh is certainly no picnic, but it may be the only sign of hope for God’s people, even though they may be yet unaware of that fact. (Ralph Davis Judges: Such a Great Salvation - Focus on the Bible) (Bolding added)


The exact meaning of "Cushan-Rishathaim" is not certain but the most frequent translations are "dark one of double evil"; "doubly-wicked Cushan"; "Cushan of Double Wickedness" or "Cushite of the double outrage". The "two fold" increase aspect of the name seems to be universally accepted.

To the Greeks and Romans the term "Mesopotamia" was used to denote the area between the Tigris and Euphrates, and the lands around the headwaters and southernmost courses of those rivers. In the Bible it is restricted to Aram Naharaim, a rather vaguely defined region centering about the city of Haran in the NW sector of the broader region (cf. Ge 24:10).

Mesopotamia (note) - Hebrew word = Aram-naharaim. Aram-naharayim, "Syria of the two rivers," or Mesopotamia, "between the rivers," is a famous province situated between the Tigris and Euphrates.


Living proof of the truth in Proverbs 5:22…

His own iniquities will capture the wicked, And he will be held with the cords of his sin. (see notes)

Since they chose not to serve Jehovah but gods who are really no gods, Jehovah gave them into the hands of this "doubly wicked" pagan king to serve him. God sometimes gives us what we want if we persist in rebelling against His loving leadership.

They learned by experience that there is a way which seems right to a man but its end is death. [Pr 14:12,16:25] How foolish they had been to think they must adopt Baal worship in order to prosper in the new land (Baal worship was associated with fertility of the land in the pagan's deceived mind). Had not Jehovah promised fertility, prosperity, and security to His people when they obeyed His commands? (Dt 28:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12). By turning from God they had brought upon themselves CURSES instead of BLESSINGS (Dt 28:15, 16, 17, 18, 19). Distress drove Israel to prayer. It usually does. And the Lord heard although He could have ignored them.

Charles Spurgeon said that God never allows His people to sin successfully! Their sin will either destroy them or it will invite the chastening hand of God (He 12:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). If the history of Israel teaches the contemporary church anything (cp 1Co 10:6, 11) it’s the obvious lesson that…

“Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a disgrace to any people” (Pr 14:34)

Judges 3:9 And when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother.

AND WHEN THE SONS OF ISRAEL CRIED TO THE LORD: (Jdg 2:15; 4:3; 6:7; 10:10; 1Samuel 12:10; Nehemiah 9:27; Psalms 22:5; 78:34; 106:41, 42, 43, 44; Psalms 107:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 )

Cried (za'aq) (1st use za'aq = Exodus 2:23) (LXX translates with the verb krazo which can be used of urgent prayer or supplication) refers to a cry of distress in response to suffering or impending doom. It is basically a cry of pain, often accompanied by a lament over one's condition and/or by a request for divine help. When the context does not specifically indicate that the cry was accompanied by a confession of sin, it is best not to assume that repentance took place. Therefore we need not assume that Israel's cry for help in the present context constituted repentance. All we can safely say is that oppressed Israel cried out to the Lord to intervene.

Za'aq - 74x in OT - Exod. 2:23; Jos. 8:16; Jdg. 3:9, 15; 4:10, 13; 6:6f, 34f; 10:10, 14; 12:2; 18:22f; 1 Sam. 4:13; 5:10; 7:8f; 8:18; 12:8, 10; 14:20; 15:11; 28:12; 2 Sam. 13:19; 19:4, 28; 20:4f; 1 Ki. 22:32; 1 Chr. 5:20; 2 Chr. 18:31; 20:9; 32:20; Neh. 9:4, 28; Est. 4:1; Job 31:38; 35:9; Ps. 22:5; 107:13, 19; 142:1, 5; Eccl. 9:17; Isa. 14:31; 15:4f; 26:17; 30:19; 57:13; Jer. 11:11f; 20:8; 25:34; 30:15; 47:2; 48:20, 31; Lam. 3:8; Ezek. 9:8; 11:13; 21:12; 27:30; Hos. 7:14; 8:2; Joel 1:14; Jon. 1:5; 3:7; Mic. 3:4; Hab. 1:2; 2:11; Zech. 6:8

There are several passages (Psalm 107:13, 19) where za’aq may seem to approach a hint of repentance; yet in each case the emphasis remains on the condition of distress rather than on any expression of repentance.

Affliction makes those cry to God who before would scarcely speak to Him before. When you are at the end of yourself cry out for the Deliverer: Even better is to pray incessantly. He will hear. Say ''I can't Lord but You can!''

As alluded to above, although Israel cries out in their distress, there is no clear mention of their repentance (in fact see Jdg 2:17, 19- notes Jdg 2:17; 19).

Davis comments that the conclusion that there is no evidence that Israel repented is important…

"for it shows that when “Yahweh raised up a savior” for Israel he was not reacting to any repentance on Israel’s part. If anything, he was responding to their misery rather than to their sorrow, to their pain rather than to their penitence. Who then can ever plumb the abyss of Yahweh’s pity for his people, even his sinful people, who are moved more by their distress than by their depravity? Yahweh is indeed the one “who could bear Israel’s suffering no longer” (Jdg 10:16-see note Judges 10:16 NJB). What sheer grace then when Yahweh delivers! Our primary problem is that verse 9 moves us only to yawn. After all, we already know the theological truth of verse 9 — we’ve read that sort of thing often before. So we respond with a, pleasant, nodding ho–hum. Isn’t God nice? What’s for supper? If we fail to see, to feel, to delight in the miracle of God’s own nature, are we not strangers to rather than partakers of such unbelievable grace?" (Ralph Davis Judges: Such a Great Salvation - Focus on the Bible)

Despite lack of evidence that the people genuinely repented of their sins when they cried out to God for help, the Lord responded to their plight and gave them a deliverer. It was the Exodus experience all over again:

“So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice (yada) ” (Ex 2:24, 25)

The word “took notice" (Yada) means much more than intellectual understanding, for God knows everything. It means that God identified with their trials and felt a concern for their welfare,

"for since (Jesus) Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted." (see note Hebrews 2:17).

Are you suffering affliction beloved? Then cry out for your Deliver, Yeshua.

THE LORD RAISED UP A DELIVERER (LXX = Savior = soter - see word study, one who gives victory) FOR THE SONS OF ISRAEL TO DELIVER (LXX = sozo - word study= rescue, preserve from harm) THEM: (Jdg 2:16)

Deliverer/deliver (both are the Hebrew verb yasa) means to save, to help, to deliver, to defend. The underlying idea of this verb is bringing to a place of safety or broad pasture as opposed to a narrow strait, symbolic of distress and danger. Here the deliverer refers to a God-given military leader who rescues Israel from oppression

With God there are no extraordinary people—only ordinary ones through whom He chooses to do extraordinary things.

Alfred Edersheim said…

The Judges were Israel’s representative men—representative of its faith and hope, but also of its sin and decay.

OTHNIEL (God is might & he lived up to his name) THE SON OF KENAZ, CALEB'S YOUNGER BROTHER:

already a proven conqueror. God used a man but don't ever think it was the man who delivered them… it was God our Savior (Titus 1:3, 2:10-see notes Titus 1:3, 2:10). We think God if you will just save ole ''so and so'', he would be so useful to you. God doesn't think the way men think see as Isaiah says in chapter 55…

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth, And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:8, 9, 10, 11)


Outstanding solid family background which gave him the privilege of seeing the principles of trust & obedience demonstrated in the life of Caleb. He was a man of proven ability (see note Judges 1:13), of courage (and trust in God's promises) (Kiriath-sepher was a stronghold of giants), of faith (Judges 3:10 ). Jewish rabbis were so impressed with Othniel that they ranked him "first" among the judges. But the key to God's using Othniel is found in (Judges 3:10 ) - the Lord was his strength in the Person of the Holy Spirit Who every believer today possesses (1Cor 12:12, Acts 1:8). Thus Israel was kept from apostasy by this one godly leader.

God + one man = a majority.

As a young man Othniel had fought giants at Debir; as an older man he moved against the powerful Aramaeans. He was a man of faith, and at Kadesh-barnea he heard his older brother Caleb exhort the Israelites not to fear the giants in Canaan but to trust the Lord. (Nu 14:9). God is a God of great mercy… look what He had said to Abraham regarding the lands of the Kennizites [Caleb's & Othniel's relatives] = (Ge 15:19).

Judges 3:10 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim.

AND THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAME UPON HIM: (Jdg 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6,19; Numbers 11:17; 27:18; 1Samuel 10:6; 11:6; 16:13; 2Chronicles 15:1; 20:14; Psalms 51:11; 1Corinthians 12:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11; Hebrews 6:4)

The Spirit of the Lord appears seven times in Judges (used 28x in the NAS OT and NT = Jdg. 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14; 1 Sam. 10:6; 16:13f; 2 Sam. 23:2; 1 Ki. 18:12; 22:24; 2 Ki. 2:16; 2 Chr. 18:23; 20:14; Isa. 11:2; 40:13; 61:1; 63:14; Ezek. 11:5; 37:1; Mic. 2:7; 3:8; Lk. 4:18; Acts 5:9; 8:39; 2Co. 3:17). Note especially the prophetic passage in Isaiah 11:2…

And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

It is interesting that the OT rarely link the terms holy and spirit, the expression “Holy Spirit” in fact appearing only three times in all of the OT (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11).

Judges 3:9-10 emphasize Jehovah's power and providential control, for His Spirit equips and empowers Othniel and by His power the enemy is given into Othniel's hand. There can be no missing the truth that

“salvation (deliverance) is from the LORD” (Jonah 2:9)

Brensinger summarizes the roles of the Spirit in the Old Testament writing that

Generally speaking, the Spirit of God appears in the OT in three distinct contexts.

First, the Spirit of God actively participates in both the creation and the preservation of the world (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13, KJV and Heb.; Ps. 33:6; 104:30). In this way, the Spirit powerfully brings order and life out of chaos.

Second, the Spirit of God frequently serves to energize and inspire Israel’s leaders (e.g., Ex 31:3; Nu 11:25-29). The Former Prophets typically envision the Spirit in this way—coming upon and empowering selected individuals assigned to perform specific tasks (Jdg 6:34, 11:29, 13:25, 14:6, 15:14-see notes Judges 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6; 14:19; 15:14; 1Sa 10:10; 11:6; 16:13). So too do the prophets themselves refer to the enabling operation of the Spirit in their ministries (Ezek 11:5; Mic. 3:8; Zech. 4:6; 7:12).

Third, the Spirit of God plays a crucial role in ancient Israel’s eschatological hopes, in her dreams concerning the future. The same life-giving Spirit, for example, will restore flesh to parched bones and reestablish Israel (Ezek. 37:14). Furthermore, an anticipated outpouring of God’s Spirit upon all people resounds within the prophetic proclamation (Isa. 32:15; 44:3; Ezek. 39:29; Joel 2:28). With this outpouring will come transformation, renewal, and a longed-for spiritual vitality.

Reflected in the OT’s depiction of the Holy Spirit, then, is a progression of sorts. What begins with the movement of the Spirit at creation and continues with the empowering of selected individuals eventually gives way to a remarkably comprehensive hope in which the Spirit of God will indwell all of God’s people—young and old, men and women. Herein lies a major qualitative difference between the OT and the New. What formerly could only be imagined has now come to pass: God’s Spirit not simply coming upon selected individuals, but actually dwelling within the hearts of the members of the entire community of faith (Acts 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6f; 1Cor. 3:16; Gal. 5:25-note;). (Brensinger, T. L. Judges. Believers Church Bible Commentary. Page 232. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press)

He came upon many in OT as here with Othniel (Jdg 6:34, 11:29, 13:25-see notes Judges 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 1Sa 10:9,10,19:20,23; 2Chr 20:14; Nu 24:2; 16:13; 1Chr 12:18).

The Spirit was also temporarily in some people (Nu 27:18; Da 4:8; 6:3; 1Pe 1:11-see note 1 Peter 1:11) and filled some for special service (Ex 31:3; 35:31). These relationships are characterized by the Lord, as the Spirit, being "with" them, in contrast to His permanent indwelling of all believers from the Day of Pentecost on (Jn 14:17).

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit’ says the LORD of Hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

This was the secret of Othniel’s strength, as it was with Gideon (Jdg 6:34-see note Judges 6:34), Jephthah (Jdg 11:29-see note Judges 11:29) and Samson (Jdg 14:6, 19, 15:14-see notes Judges 14:6, 14:19; 15:14); and it must be the source of the believer’s power today (Acts 1:8; 2:4; 4:8, 31; Ep 5:18-see note Ephesians 5:18, Gal 5:16-note, Gal 5:18-note, Gal 5:25-note; cp Jesus' example - Mt 4:1, Mark 1:12, Luke 4:1, 14, 18, , Acts 10:38 ).

John Wesley declared that…

“I am sensible indeed that without [the Spirit of God,] we can do nothing”

Brensinger emphasizes that…

Obedience without divine empowerment, as self-driven activists often illustrate, is ultimately resourceless. Divine empowerment without obedience, as later judges will all too clearly demonstrate, is mournfully fruitless. (Brensinger, T. L. Judges. Believers Church Bible Commentary. Page 232. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press)

One of the former directors of The Evangelical Alliance Mission, T. J. Bach, said,

“The Holy Spirit longs to reveal to you the deeper things of God. He longs to love through you. He longs to work through you. Through the blessed Holy Spirit you may have: strength for every duty, wisdom for every problem, comfort in every sorrow, joy in His overflowing service.”

What is the NT parallel of Othniel's power to defeat the enemy as the result of God's Spirit descending upon him? The NT believer's power to wage spiritual war against and live victoriously over his or her enemies (world, flesh, devil) comes from the Holy Spirit Who indwells us and empowers us (e.g., "walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh… if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law." see Gal 5:16, 17, 18-see notes Gal5:16; 5:17; 5:18, cf Acts 1:8, Ro 8:13-note)

Arthur Lewis makes an interesting comment…

"In most cases, we may assume the personal salvation of these men, but the Spirit's work in convicting and forgiving sinners is not necessarily prerequisite in the OT to His work of guiding or empowering His instruments in history. At times we will come across a man such as Jephthah, whose life shows almost no evidence of spirituality, yet he too was moved by the Spirit to rescue the people of God." (Everyman's Bible Commentary)

But be a Berean (Acts 17:11-note) and think about this comment… don't take it as definitive.


This meant that he exercised authority in managing the affairs of the nation, and it was his spiritual and civil leadership that brought rest to the land. Never underestimate the good that one person can do who is filled with the Spirit of God and obedient to the will of God.


This was Othniel's responsibility. He could have stayed at home and said "Well I have His Spirit now, so I can just 'let go and let God'". But God's sovereign anointing always demands the recipient's obedient response to His gift. And so Othniel responded & God kept His part of the promise ("the LORD gave"), which He always does.


Judges 3.10
G Campbell Morgan

The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel.

Othniel was the first of the judges. The circumstances which made his appoint­ment necessary were those of the oppression of the people of God by the king of Meso­potamia. For eight years they had been subject to him. That subjection was due to their sin. They "forgat Jehovah their God, and served the Baalim and the Asheroth." The method of the statement suggests a gradual deterioration, ending in complete degeneracy. The stern discipline of the eight years brought them back to remembrance of God, and they cried unto Him. Then He raised up Othniel, who was to them a saviour, judging them, and leading them to victory over their enemies. The words we have emphasized are those which reveal his equipment for this work. Here the phrase, "The Spirit of Jehovah," occurs for the first time in the Bible story. We have read before. of "the Spirit of God"; we have heard Moses say: "Would that Jehovah would put His Spirit upon them." But now it is said that "The Spirit of Jehovah came upon" this man. There is no doubt that the reference is to the Holy Spirit; but the suggestion is not so much that of the might of God, as in the phrase "the Spirit of God" or Elohim, as of the grace and condescension of God. It was "the Spirit of Jehovah," that is, of the One Who was ever pledged to the need of His people, and Who became to them exactly what they needed in order to rescue them. This Spirit came upon a man, whose relationship to Caleb at least sug­gests that he was a man loyal to God amidst the prevalent declension of the people. By that enduement of love and power, he was perfectly equipped for his work. (Morgan, G. C. Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible)

Judges 3:11 Then the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

THEN THE LAND HAD REST FORTY YEARS: (Jdg 3:30; 5:31; 8:28; Joshua 11:23; Esther 9:22 )

The statement "the land had rest (was undisturbed)" concludes the first four cycles of Judges (See notes Judges 3:11 , 3:30; 5:31; 8:28).

Rest (saqat) means to be still, quiet or undisturbed and describes a state of tranquility, as during the absence of war. It indicates that equilibrium was restored to the land after a period of oppression. The expression disappears after the time of Gideon, for it appears that Abimelech's reign of terror marked a turning point in the era, as turmoil replaced peace.

Saqat - 41x in OT - Jos. 11:23; 14:15; Jdg. 3:11, 30; 5:31; 8:28; 18:7, 27; Ruth 3:18; 2 Ki. 11:20; 1 Chr. 4:40; 2 Chr. 14:1, 5f; 20:30; 23:21; Job 3:13, 26; 34:29; 37:17; Ps. 76:8; 83:1; 94:13; Prov. 15:18; Isa. 7:4; 14:7; 18:4; 30:15; 32:17; 57:20; 62:1; Jer. 30:10; 46:27; 47:6f; 48:11; 49:23; Ezek. 16:42, 49; 38:11; Zech. 1:11

The Septuagint (LXX) translates "rest" with the verb hesuchazo (see word study) which means to Hiebert notes that hesuchazo

basically means "to be at rest" and was used of silence after speech, rest after labor, peace after war, and the like; it was also used of tranquility or peace of mind; here it is used to urge the living of a calm, restful life.

The book of Joshua records that…

Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest (saqat) from war. (Joshua 11:23)

This Hebrew verb saqat also conveys a sense of safety and security. Security can paradoxically be a time of potential vulnerability, for we all tend to "let our guard down" (pray less, commune less with God, etc) when the "pressure" is off. Israel fell into this "trap".

This period of "rest" should have been appreciated and acknowledged by Israel as the "kindness" of the Lord and they should have responded with genuine repentance. As Paul rhetorically asks his reader…

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (see note Romans 2:4)

Davis adds that

"This rest is an opportunity that can be enjoyed only in ongoing fidelity to Yahweh. Israel cannot merely piddle with it, for it will not always be extended. As Carl Armerding has observed:

The first five judges, all of whom, including the mysterious Shamgar, were deliverer–figures, represent a time when the land periodically enjoyed rest from conflict…. (Jdg 3:11, 30, 5:31, 8:28-See notes Judges 3:11, 3:30; 5:31; 8:28) In contrast, the latter period is characterized by minor judges … together with the rather unorthodox deliverers Jephthah and Samson. The land is never said to “have rest” and the picture is one of increasing moral, political and military decline leading to the shameful climax of events in the Epilogue (Judges 17–21). The lesson is clear: a people which fails to give wholehearted obedience to the LORD can only sink lower and lower.

The rest that God gives must be met by the constancy of his people. A footnote. Let us not as Christians be too hasty to spiritualize this rest into heavenly rest. It was the land that enjoyed rest. Even Christians, I would hold, should keep to the earthiness of the text here. There is no need to fly off to heaven at this point. Does not the apostle command us to pray

for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1Ti 2:2)?

To have rulers in one’s country who can maintain social and civil order is one of God’s wonderful gifts to his flock. And if your land has relative rest, you should thank the kind King who has granted it to you. (Ralph Davis Judges: Such a Great Salvation - Focus on the Bible)

Are you experiencing His rest at this moment? If not, could it be that you have not remained faithful?

When did Israel have rest? when the ''judge'' (the "savior") was there! (cp Judges 2:19) For 40 years. Here's the cycle: you see, you covet, you want it like the commercial ''your way'' so God says ''Okay, I'll give it to you.''

And so we become a slave to that old taskmaster, the flesh which is being corrupted by its lusts (2Pe 1:4-note, cp 1Jn 2:16, Ro 13:14-note, 1Pe 2:11-note) of the flesh. The flesh is not getting any better folks. When you realize you can't escape the snare/bondage of whatever it was you thought you wanted, you cry out for the Deliverer and He hears and He delivers you from the wrath to come. Amen. And then when He is ruling (AND ONLY THEN) can I have the peace that passes all human understanding (Php 4:6-note).

Have you entered His REST or are still striving in your strength?

Many have failed to enter that rest… let the ''Judge'' rule and you will have rest.

And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (He 3:18, 19-note)


Judges 3:12 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.


Did evil in the sight of the LORD (36 x -Jdg. 2:11; 3:12; 4:1; 10:6; 13:1; 1 Ki. 14:22; 15:26, 34; 16:25, 30; 22:52; 2 Ki. 3:2; 8:18, 27; 13:2, 11; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28; 17:2; 21:2, 20; 23:32, 37; 24:9, 19; 2 Chr. 21:6; 22:4; 33:2, 22; 36:5, 9, 12; Jer. 52:2) This is a repeated phrase in Judges - see notes Judges 2:11, 3:12, 4:1, 6:1, 10:6, Judges 13:1 The phrase did evil is common in is also common in 1 & 2 Kings (24 times), increasing in frequency in second Kings . It is as if the closer they got to judgment, the more evil they became or the more certain the judgment had to be. Just a thought to ponder. Note it is also interesting that this phrase did evil is not found in 1 & 2 Samuel. Could it be that the reason is that the leaders were godly men like Samuel and David? Note also that the evil began with Baalim (plural) but progressed to the point documented in Judges 10:6 (note)!

A man controlled by the Spirit may change his generation for good as Othniel did, but that is never a guarantee of the spirituality of the future generation. The question that must be asked is how is it that the Israelites fell so quickly into idolatry? Did the judges such as Othniel not teach about the great & mighty deeds of God?

SO THE LORD STRENGTHENED EGLON THE KING OF MOAB AGAINST ISRAEL: (Exodus 9:16; 2Kings 5:1; Isaiah 10:15; 37:26; 45:1, 2, 3, 4; Ezekiel 38:16; Daniel 4:22; Daniel 5:18; John 19:11 )

This clearly shows God's sovereignty (see His attribute = Sovereign) in human affairs. God is not battling against Satan in some kind of "power struggle". The Hebrew word means give a person strength to overcome or oppress another [Dt 31:17].

The origin of Moab (Ge 19:30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38) and its relations with Israel during the wilderness wanderings (Nu 22:1-25:18) resulted in God's judgment against both the Moabites and the Ammonites (Dt 23:1, 2, 3, 6). In the OT God in His sovereignty frequently chose to use pagan rulers to accomplish His purpose of punishing Israel (Isa 10:5, Isa 45:1, Ezek 30:24, etc).

BECAUSE THEY HAD DONE EVIL (cp turned quickly, acted > corruptly Judges 2:17,19) IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD:

Judges 3:13 And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees.

AND HE GATHERED TO HIMSELF THE SONS OF AMMON (E & N of Moab): (Jdg 5:14; Psalms 83:6)

Ammon was the son by the youngest daughter of Lot (Moab by the oldest daughter).

AND AMALEK (Ex 17:14,16, Dt 25:17,19, Ge 36:12, Esther 3:1) (All 37 OT uses - Gen. 36:12, 16; Ex 17:8ff, 13f, 16; Num. 13:29; 24:20; Deut. 25:17, 19; Jdg. 3:13; 5:14; 6:3, 33; 7:12; 10:12; 1 Sam. 14:48; 15:2f, 5ff, 18, 20, 32; 28:18; 30:18; 2 Sam. 1:1; 8:12; 1 Chr. 1:36; 4:43; 18:11; Ps. 83:7):

See Ex 17:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 -- See notes on Amalek in Ex 17:8; 17:9; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16

Amalek is the grandson of Esau (Esau I hated [Ro 9:13-note] = because he never had any desire to obey God). GOD IS USING: a people whose legacy is nothing but evil and God had even said the Amalekites were to be blotted out. YET GOD RAISED THEM UP. The Amalekites had followed the Israelites all across the wilderness with harassing and warlike thrusts, going back to the battle at Rephidim, when Moses held up his hands with help of Aaron & Hur and God (Jehovah Nissi) gave Israel the victory under Joshua's command

DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR SIN IS NOT SERIOUS BEFORE GOD? FLESH NEVER GETS BETTER (Gal 5:16, 17 - see note Galatians 5:16 Galatians 5:17 ). We must learn from Israel rather than be judgmental of their waywardness. The people that God has right now in your life who are driving you crazy are probably those who reflect the same sinful tendencies you have expressed!


City of the Palm trees = Jericho which was under a curse (Josh 6:26), and there’s no evidence that the city had been rebuilt; but the location was ideal for directing military operations, and there was an abundance of water there.

Judges 3:14 And the sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.

AND THE SONS OF ISRAEL SERVED EGLON THE KING OF MOAB EIGHTEEN YEARS: (Leviticus 26:23-25; Deuteronomy 28:40,47,48)

The listed periods of servitude in the book of Judges total 111 years and included subjection to no less than nine different nations. Israel's periods of apostasy were costly.

Judges 3:15 But when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab.

BUT WHEN THE SONS OF ISRAEL CRIED TO THE LORD THE LORD RAISED UP A DELIVERER FOR THEM: (Jdg 2:9; Psalms 50:15; 78:34; 90:15; Jeremiah 29:12,13; 33:3 )

Note it is not recorded that the Spirit of the Lord came upon Ehud. Yet he clearly knows by Whose power the battle is fought and won (Jdg 3:28 -note). "History is His story,” but as God executes His divine decrees, He never violates human responsibility, but rules and overrules in the affairs of individuals and nations to accomplish His great purposes on this earth (cp Isa 55:8, 9, Ro 11:33, 34, 35, 36 - see notes Ro 11:33; 34; 35; 36).

The Apostle Paul wrote in (2Corinthians10:3, 4, 5-note;) to the believers in Corinth reminding them of a principle every Christian needs to take to heart:

we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (see notes)

When God goes to war, He usually chooses the most unlikely soldiers, hands them the most unusual weapons, and accomplishes through them the most unpredictable results. For example, God gave Shamgar an ox goad, and with it he killed 600 men (Jdg 3:31-note). Jael used a hammer and tent peg to kill a captain (Jdg 4:21-note), and Gideon routed the whole Midianite army with only pitchers and torches as weapons (Jdg 7:20-note). Samson slaughtered 1,000 Philistines using the jawbone of an ass (Jdg 15:15-note), and young David killed the giant Goliath with a stone hurled from a shepherd’s sling (1Samuel 17). West Point Military Academy isn’t likely to offer courses on how to use these weapons!

Though our technologically advanced world has changed dramatically since the days of the Judges, our internal enemy, the flesh, & our external enemy, the “WORLD" are both still the same relentless adversaries in this "Holy War" (to be holy as He is holy) because human nature hasn’t changed (1Jn 2:15, 16, 17, Ro 5:12-note, Ep 2:2, 3- Ephesians 2:2; 2:3). As long as we’re in this world, God’s people are involved in a spiritual war against our other enemy SATAN in whose power the whole world lies (Ep 6:10, 11, 12-see notes, 1Jn 5:19, Jn 12:31, 14:30, 16:11, Ep 2:2, Luke 4:6), and God is still looking for men and women who have what it takes to win: power (made strong in weakness 2Cor 12:9-note; 2Cor 12:10-note), strategy, and courage (1Cor 15:58). These three essentials for victory are illustrated in this chapter in the lives of the first three judges.

EHUD (= unity, united) THE SON OF GERA, THE BENJAMITE ( = sons of my right hand) A LEFT-HANDED MAN:

Benjamite - 18x in OT - Jdg. 3:15; 19:16; 20:35f, 40, 43; 1 Sam. 9:1, 4, 21; 22:7; 2 Sam. 16:11; 19:16f; 20:1; 1 Ki. 2:8; 1 Chr. 27:12; Est. 2:5; Ps. 7:1

The Hebrew literally reads that Ehud was "hindered (bound or handicapped) in the right hand" an ironic situation for a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin which means "son of my right hand"! The Hebrew word for "left handed" is used later in Judges…

Out of all these people 700 choice men (also Benjaminites) were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. (Judges 20:16)

Ehud concealed his dagger on his right side, an unexpected place. Many of the tribe of Benjamin were left-handed (Jdg 20:16-see note Judges 20:16) and perhaps even ambidextrous (1Chr 12:2). Note the Septuagint (LXX) translates "left-handed" with the Greek word for ambidextrous adding support to the supposition that this may have been the case. Certainly if Ehud were able to function with his right hand it would have made his ruse even more subtle… in any event the battle and the victory was the LORD's.

AND THE SONS OF ISRAEL SENT TRIBUTE BY HIM TO EGLON THE KING OF MOAB (1Samuel 10:27; Proverbs 18:16; 19:6; 21:14; Isaiah 36:16)

In Judges 3 note these overriding principles:

1). God uses completely different kinds of men. Don't look for a stereotype of the kind of person God uses. You may not be an Othniel but remember Judges 3 and the fact that God uses Ehud's and Shamgars.

2). God uses those who draw their strength from Him. See Isaiah 40:31 where the word renew is really exchange or replace. So those who wait for the Lord will exchange their weaknesses for His strength.

3). God uses those who step out in faith and trust Him. All 3 of these judges had to take a risk & step out in faith (not sight), humbly taking God at His word & in that assurance confronting the enemy.

Related Resources

See also Ep 6:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17- Verse by Verse notes on Ephesians 6:10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17

Judges 3:16 And Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length; and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak.

AND EHUD MADE HIMSELF A SWORD WHICH HAD TWO EDGES A CUBIT IN LENGTH: (Psalms 149:6; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16; 2:12 ) from the elbow to knuckles, about 18 inches

AND HE BOUND IT ON HIS RIGHT THIGH UNDER HIS CLOAK: (Jdg 3:21; Psalms 45:3; Song of Solomon 3:8)

In this location it would be easier to reach for the sword with his left hand.

Scott Martin, a lefty himself, draws an interesting series of questions from the story of Ehud, questions which are especially relevant to those who are leaders in their churches. He emphasizes that Ehud was a man who took risks for his scheme posed major problems. What if the curious bulge on his right thigh was detected? What about the Moabite equivalent of metal detectors? Would he receive a private audience with the king? Would his entourage escape? Martin goes on to note that…

Your idea may present problems, too. Where is your follow-through? Ehud did not stop with killing Eglon. What good would it have done to kill one Moabite king? The Moabites would simply replace him with another just as cruel, and kill a few hundred Israelites out of revenge. Some plan, Ehud! However, Jdg 3:27 (note) says Ehud “blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim,” and Israelite warriors streamed out of the hills, “taking possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab” (Jdg 3:28). This, too, was part of Ehud’s plan. His fellow Jews from all over Israel had secretly prepared to fight at this prearranged signal. Because of Ehud’s follow-through, the Israelites drove the Moabites out of their land, striking down 10,000 men. “Not a man escaped” (Jdg 3:29).

This raises a second question for leaders: Where is your follow-through? Without the infrastructure of a prepared army, Ehud would have accomplished little except to anger the Moabites. Because of infrastructure, the Moabites were driven out, and Israel enjoyed peace for 80 years. Today a lot is being written about the importance of vision for leaders. Leaders must cast a vision for followers, we are told. Inspire them. Paint a big, exciting picture. But too many leaders stop there. They don’t think beyond the heroic deed. Ehud’s vision was exciting, but it was his prearranged infrastructure that brought success. I confess—I find it easier to start stuff than to finish it… Some leaders are forever starting new programs. Good programs… But before launching still another new program, consider what it will take to follow through. Have you identified the obstacles? Do you have the skills to make it happen? The staff? The money? The equipment? Don’t let questions about infrastructure stop you from dreaming. But unless you think your dreams through to completion, you will be merely a visionary, perhaps even a hero, but not a leader… Planning infrastructure takes energy. Sometimes leaders are tempted to delegate the hard work of follow-through so they can major on dreaming. Not Ehud. According to Judges 3:27 (note), when the Israelites came streaming out of the hills to fight the Moabites, Ehud was in the lead. Follow-through is an important difference between a leader and a visionary. Who are you training to carry on your vision? In Judges 4:1 we read, “After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” That is the final verse of Scripture about Ehud. Even though the land was undisturbed by enemies for 80 years (Jdg. 3:30), the children of Israel went back to doing evil after their leader Ehud died. Would the history of Israel have been different if Ehud had left a legacy of strong, godly leaders? The same question could be asked of other leaders in the Bible. Whom did Gideon leave behind? Or Joshua? Or Rehoboam? Paul exhorted Timothy in 2Ti 2:2 (note) to entrust the teaching he’d learned from Paul to “faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (KJV). Similarly, although Jesus was busy with public ministry, He purposely took time to train 12 disciples. Look carefully at where Jesus spent His time, especially in His closing months. Developing future leaders does not happen by accident. Are you purposely recruiting and developing protégés who believe in your vision as much as you do? Who will carry out your dreams once you are gone?

Dawson Trotman (Born to Reproduce), founder of The Navigators, constantly asked, Where’s your man? Where’s your woman? Where is that one you are giving your life to?

Too many of us are preoccupied with just getting through our weekly do-list. We seldom think about training replacements or grooming our followers to carry more responsibility. As you lead, let the legacy of Ehud challenge you. Ask yourself these three questions:

Am I taking initiative … or waiting? Do I have an infrastructure for my initiatives? Am I recruiting and training protégés?

I have found these questions to be a helpful checklist as I attempt to serve Christ. They are simple but profound, even if they do come from a left-handed guy we’ve barely heard of! (Martin, Scott: Leadership Lessons From A Left-Handed Guy 3 questions every leader should ask) (Scott Martin)

Judges 3:17 And he presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man.

AND HE PRESENTED THE TRIBUTE TO EGLON KING OF MOAB. NOW EGLON WAS A VERY FAT MAN. (Jdg 3:29; *marg:; 1Samuel 2:29; Job 15:27; Psalms 73:7,19; Jeremiah 5:28; 50:11; Ezekiel 34:20)Judges 3:18 And it came about when he had finished presenting the tribute, that he sent away the people who had carried the tribute.


After presenting the gift, Ehud dismissed the people who had carried the present to their own homes; namely, as we learn from [v19] after they had gone some distance from Jericho. But he himself returned from the IDOLS at Gilgal to Jericho to king Eglon.


One thing is for certain. Ehud was willing and brave enough to carry out this task by himself, and ultimately we see his "power Source" was God (cp v28).

Judges 3:19 But he himself turned back from the idols which were at Gilgal, and said, "I have a secret message for you, O king." And he said, "Keep silence." And all who attended him left him.


The context seems to require that we understand Ehud "said" in the sense of "he had the king told" since Ehud himself did not go in to the king, who was sitting in his room until afterwards (v20). In consequence of this message the king said lit. be silent (the imperative); here it is a proclamation, "Let there be quiet".


There upon all who were standing round (his attendants) left the room, and Ehud went in (v20).

Judges 3:20 And Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, "I have a message from God for you." And he arose from his seat.

AND EHUD CAME TO HIM WHILE HE WAS SITTING ALONE IN HIS COOL ROOF CHAMBER: A room on the flat roof with many latticed windows to catch the summer breezes.

AND EHUD SAID, "I HAVE A MESSAGE FROM GOD FOR YOU." AND HE AROSE FROM HIS SEAT. (Jdg 3:19; 2Samuel 12:1-15; 24:12; Micah 6:9 ) (Psalms 29:1; Jeremiah 10:7)

"Message from God" is literally "a Word of God" and elsewhere refers to a prophetic oracle.

F B Meyer
Our Daily Homily
Judges 3:20

I have a message from God unto thee.

God’s Messages are often secret. — When Eglon was assured that Ehud had brought a Divine message, which could only be delivered in secret, “a secret errand” (Judges 3:19), he fearlessly bade all his retinue go forth from the audience chamber. And in utter loneliness the one passed to the other the message of death. So there are crises in our lives when God’s messengers bring us the secret message, in which none can intrude or interfere.

God’s Messages must be received with, reverence. — When Ehud said, “I have a message for thee,” Eglon rose out of his seat. This was a mark of respect, the attitude of attention. It is with similar awe that we should ever wait for the revelation of the Divine will. “What saith my Lord unto his servant?”

God’s Messages leap out from unexpected quarters. — Ehud was left-handed; his sword was therefore on his right side, and he appeared unarmed. No one dreamed of looking for his sword, except on his left side; he was therefore allowed to pass unchallenged into the presence of the king. So Nathan strode into David’s presence, who thought his sin was undiscovered, and said, “Thou art the man.” Cultivate this surprise with sinners.

God’s Messages are sharp as a two-edged sword, and cause death. — A scimitar is sharp at the edge, and blunt at the back to strike; whilst a two-edged sword is made to pierce. God’s Word pierces as a two-edged sword to the dividing of soul and spirit in the recesses of the being, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. When the Eglon of self has received its death-wound, the glad trumpet of freedom is blown on the hills. (Meyer, F. B. Our Daily Homily).

Judges 3:21 And Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly.

Thrust it (Numbers 25:7,8; 1Samuel 15:33; Job 20:25; Zechariah 13:3; 2Corinthians 5:16)

Judges 3:22 The handle also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out.


King Eglon’s name means “little bull calf.” Ehud had killed the “fatted calf.”


note LXX translation above which leaves out this phrase entirely!

Judges 3:23 Then Ehud went out into the vestibule and shut the doors of the roof chamber behind him, and locked them.


Judges 3:24 When he had gone out, his servants came and looked, and behold, the doors of the roof chamber were locked; and they said, "He is only relieving himself in the cool room."

AND THEY SAID, "HE IS ONLY RELIEVING HIMSELF (he covereth his feet; cf. 1Sa 24:3) IN THE COOL ROOM:

Literally this verse reads "and he hath gone out, and his servants have come in, and look, and lo, the doors of the upper chamber are bolted, and they say, 'He is only covering his feet in the inner chamber of the wall.'"

Covering his feet = euphemism for performing the necessities of nature [cf. 1Sa 24:3)

Judges 3:25 And they waited until they became anxious; but behold, he did not open the doors of the roof chamber. Therefore they took the key and opened them, and behold, their master had fallen to the floor dead.


Keil-Delitzsch make a comment with which I disagree:

"Ehud's conduct must be judged according to the spirit of those times, when it was thought allowable to adopt any means of destroying the enemy of one's nation. The treacherous assassination of a hostile king is not to be regarded as an act of the Spirit of God, and therefore is not set before us as an example to be imitated. (This I would agree with) Although Jehovah raised up Ehud as a deliverer to His people when oppressed by Eglon, it is not stated (and this ought particularly to be observed) that the Spirit of Jehovah came upon Ehud, and still less that Ehud assassinated the hostile king under the impulse of that Spirit."

(Ed note: K-D forget that this is the same God Who hates sin and Who destroyed the entire world sans 8 people in the FLOOD. So although this act of Ehud is not to be considered normative, neither is it to be considered barbaric or outside of the will of the LORD Who had willed to deliver Israel thru Ehud… we must remember that God had said to utterly destroy the enemies in the land and in [1Sa 15:33] Samuel completed the partial obedience [= disobedience] of Saul hewing King Agag with a sword… Samuel was not guilty of an atrocity but in fact was being obedient to God. Although the text does not say the Spirit came upon Ehud, the context clearly says that Ehud was raised up by the LORD. Why is it that the assassination of an evil idol worshiper is thought to be so aberrant in God's economy of repaying evil for evil? Why do we want to give some sentiment to Eglon?)

Judges 3:26 Now Ehud escaped while they were delaying, and he passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah.


Place name meaning, "toward Seir." The name would seem to point to Mount Seir in Edom, but the context seems to make that location impossible. Otherwise, the location is not known. It must be a forested place in the tribal territory of Benjamin.

Judges 3:27 And it came about when he had arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was in front of them.

AND IT CAME ABOUT WHEN HE HAD ARRIVED, THAT HE BLEW THE TRUMPET (shophar - see note Judges 6:34) IN THE HILL COUNTRY OF EPHRAIM: (Jdg 5:14; 6:34; 1Samuel 13:3; 2Samuel 20:22; 2Kings 9:13) (Jdg 7:24; 17:1; 19:1; Joshua 17:15,18)

Blew (taqa') expresses idea of "giving a blast" on a trumpet, but can also mean to thrust and in fact is used above in Judges 3:21 to describe Ehud's "thrust" of the sword into Eglon! The repetition of taqa' therefore seems to link Ehud's two decisive actions, which were the defining moments in his revolt against the Moabite tyrant.

Judges 3:28 And he said to them, "Pursue them, for the LORD has given your enemies the Moabites into your hands." So they went down after him and seized the fords of the Jordan opposite Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross.

THE LORD HAS GIVEN YOUR ENEMIES THE MOABITES INTO YOUR HANDS: (Jdg 4:10; 7:17 ) (Jdg 7:9,15; 1Samuel 17:47 )

Ehud encouraged the sons of Israel that the victory was guaranteed because the Lord had given the Moabites into their hands. To "give into the hand of" is an idiom which means "to deliver over to the power of," or "to enable to conquer."

For dramatic effect Ehud uses the Hebrew perfect verbal form here ("has given"), describing a future action as if it were a completed, past event (so sure was the outcome because of God's faithful word)!

Judges 3:29 And they struck down at that time about ten thousand Moabites, all robust and valiant men; and no one escaped.

NO ONE ESCAPED (cp "utterly destroy" Dt 7:2):

Robust (Jdg 3:17; Deuteronomy 32:15; Job 15:27; Psalms 17:10)

Judges 3:30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land was undisturbed for eighty years.

SO MOAB WAS SUBDUED THAT DAY UNDER THE HAND OF ISRAEL AND THE LAND WAS UNDISTURBED (translated "rest" Jdg 3:11: tranquil with absence of strife, war, worry, anxiety) FOR EIGHTY YEARS:

This is the longest period of rest recorded in Judges.

Ehud is an interesting character. Think about it… If the Jews had been asked to vote on a leader, Ehud probably would have lost on the first ballot. But God does not look at men the way men look at men and thus Ehud was God’s man for the task. God used this "nobody" to set the nation free. Moses was slow of speech and Paul was not imposing in his appearance, but Moses and Paul, like Ehud, were men of faith who led others to victory. Ehud turned a disability into a possibility because he depended on the Lord. God is in the reclamation business and is able to make any nobody a somebody who He can use mightily!

Judges 3:31 And after him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel.


This time God doesn't even bother to describe their forsaking Him to serve other gods but goes directly to the savior He raised up to deliver them from the Philistines.


Davis quips that…

This note about Shamgar is almost like one of those newsbreaks sandwiched between regular programming on radio or television. The writer slips him in between Ehud and Deborah in the briefest sort of way. Yet “he too saved Israel.” So, if anything, we have a salvation break. (Ralph Davis Judges: Such a Great Salvation - Focus on the Bible)

So here we see God use a "no name" man, probably a peasant farmer (because of his weapon the ox goad) (cp 1Cor 1:27, 1Ti 1:12). God's requirement for usefulness in His kingdom work is not ABILITY but AVAILABILITY. It has always been so because His ways are not man's ways. He will use whomever will trust & obey. One individual endued with God's power can accomplish impossible tasks against evil forces, no matter how entrenched or how powerful.

Anath (note) was in northern Israel & was apparently also the name of the Canaanite goddess of sex and war. Could Shamgar have been a Canaanite convert from paganism to Jehovah? At least his father's name suggest that there was a deep influence of paganism in his family background.

WHO STRUCK DOWN SIX HUNDRED PHILISTINES WITH AN OXGOAD (1Cor 1:27): AND HE ALSO SAVED ISRAEL (Jdg 15:15; 1Samuel 13:19, 20, 21, 22; 17:47,50; 1Corinthians 1:17, Eccl. 12:11; Acts 26:14 ) (Jdg 4:1,3-24; 10:7,17; 11:4-33; 1Samuel 4:1; )

Saved (yasha) - 198x in OT - Exod. 2:17; 14:30; Num. 10:9; Deut. 20:4; 22:27; 28:29, 31; 33:29; Jos. 10:6; 22:22; Jdg. 2:16, 18; 3:9, 15, 31; 6:14f, 31, 36f; 7:2, 7; 8:22; 10:1, 12ff; 12:2f; 13:5; 1 Sam. 4:3; 7:8; 9:16; 10:19, 27; 11:3; 14:6, 23, 39; 17:47; 23:2, 5; 25:26, 31, 33; 2 Sam. 3:18; 8:6, 14; 10:11, 19; 14:4; 22:3f, 28, 42; 2 Ki. 6:26f; 13:5; 14:27; 16:7; 19:19, 34; 1 Chr. 11:14; 16:35; 18:6, 13; 19:12, 19; 2 Chr. 20:9; 32:22; Neh. 9:27; Job 5:15; 22:29; 26:2; 40:14; Ps. 3:7; 6:4; 7:1, 10; 12:1; 17:7; 18:3, 27, 41; 20:6, 9; 22:21; 28:9; 31:2, 16; 33:16; 34:6, 18; 36:6; 37:40; 44:3, 6f; 54:1; 55:16; 57:3; 59:2; 60:5; 69:1, 35; 71:2f; 72:4, 13; 76:9; 80:3, 7, 19; 86:2, 16; 98:1; 106:8, 10, 21, 47; 107:13, 19; 108:6; 109:26, 31; 116:6; 118:25; 119:94, 117, 146; 138:7; 145:19; Prov. 20:22; 28:18; Isa. 19:20; 25:9; 30:15; 33:22; 35:4; 37:20, 35; 38:20; 43:3, 11f; 45:15, 17, 20ff; 46:7; 47:13, 15; 49:25f; 59:1, 16; 60:16; 63:1, 5, 8f; 64:5; Jer. 2:27f; 4:14; 8:20; 11:12; 14:8f; 15:20; 17:14; 23:6; 30:7, 10f; 31:7; 33:16; 42:11; 46:27; Lam. 4:17; Ezek. 34:22; 36:29; 37:23; Hos. 1:7; 13:4, 10; 14:3; Obad. 1:21; Hab. 1:2; Zeph. 3:17, 19; Zech. 8:7, 13; 9:9, 16; 10:6; 12:7. NAS renders yasha as avenged(1), avenging(2), brought salvation(2), deliver(27), delivered(9), deliverer(3), deliverers(2), delivers(2), endowed with salvation(1), gained victory(1), helped(5), preservest(1), safe(1), save(85), saved(33), saves(5), Savior(9), savior(3), surely save(1), victorious(1).

Oxgoad is a rod, generally about 8' long, at the bigger end about 6" in circumference and with a lesser end with a pointed end used to control oxen. At the other end there was a small paddle of iron, strong and massive, for cleansing the plough from the clay. In the hand of a powerful man such an instrument must be more dangerous and fatal than a sword.

During the time of the judges, the Israelites hired Philistine blacksmiths to "sharpen the goads" (1Sa 13:21), either by fashioning metal points for the pointed ends or making metal casings for the blunt end which might be used to knock dirt clods from the plow. Goads might be used as a weapon (Judges 3:31). The sayings of the wise are "goads" that "prod" thought (Eccl 2:11). God warned Paul not to "kick against the goads" (KJV pricks) by refusing to submit to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:14).

Paul wrote that "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong" (1Cor 1:27) Judges is replete with an interesting, colorful list of "foolish things which Jehovah used to deliver His people:

  • Ehud's dagger
  • Shamgar's oxgoad
  • Jael's hammer and tent peg
  • Gideon's trumpets, jars and torch
  • The woman's millstone (see note Judges 9:53)
  • Samson's jawbone

Joseph Parker once said

“What is a feeble instrument in the hands of one man is a mighty instrument in the hands of another, simply because the spirit of that other burns with holy determination to accomplish the work that has to be done.”

Brensinger adds that…

It has often been said that you can be too big for God to use, but you can never be too small. The overwhelming majority of people who make up the church today are, as always, ordinary. The Lord, however, can use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. In the words of Lesslie Newbigin, “The Church is not an organization of spiritual giants. It is broken men and women who can lead others to the Cross” (Newbigin: 146–147). The Shamgars of the past, not to mention the countless others who do not even have a single verse to preserve their memory, can become the often-unnoticed and perhaps modestly equipped servants who faithfully carry out the work of God’s kingdom today. (Brensinger, T. L. Judges. Believers Church Bible Commentary. Page 60. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press)

Hudson Taylor looking back over his 30 years as a missionary during which he had seen 600 missionaries respond to his vision to reach China through China Inland Mission summarized what he had learned declaring that…

God is sufficient for God's work… God chose me because I was weak enough. God does not do His great works by large committees. He trains someone to be quiet enough and little enough, and then He uses him.

By that standard, which is God's standard, all of us qualify. The issue is not whether He can or will use us, to His glory. The great question is whether or not we will trust Him to use us. Amen.

Below is an illustration of a man named Telemachus who proved to be a "vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for (God's) good work":

The Incredible Story of Telemachus

In the 4th Century a monk named Telemachus wanted to live his life in pursuit of God, so he lived alone in the desert praying, fasting, and meditating. One day as he prayed, he realized his life was based on a selfish love of God, not self-less. If he were to serve God, he must serve men. He decided to return to the city were there was sin and need so he headed for Rome. He arrived at a time when the Roman general Stilicho, had won a great victory over the Goths. Since Rome was officially Christian, triumph brought people pouring into the churches. But one pagan practice still lingered in "Christian" Rome -- gladiator games. While Christians were not thrown to the lions, prisoners of war were cast into the arena to fight and kill each other. Spectators roared with blood lust as the gladiators battled. Telemachus arrived on the day of the games. Following the noise, he made his way to the arena where 80,000 people had gathered to celebrate. The fights began and Telemachus stood aghast. Men for whom Christ had died were about to kill each other to amuse a supposedly Christian populace.

Telemachus jumped the wall and in a moment stood between 2 gladiators. For an instant they stopped but the crowd screamed "Let the games go on." So they pushed the old man in monk's robes aside. Again he came between the gladiators. The crowd hurled stones at him; they urged the gladiators to kill him and get him out of the way. The commander of the games gave the order - a sword flashed and Telemachus lay dead.

Suddenly the crowd hushed silent, shocked that a holy man had been killed. The games ended abruptly that day -- and were never resumed again. Telemachus by dying had ended them. As historian Edward Gibbon observed

"His death was more useful to mankind than his life."!

May his tribe increase.

Rossi writes…

Shamgar, the son of Anath, who followed Ehud, gained a signal victory over the Philistines: he also delivered Israel. Ehud's sword was mighty, though short. Shamgar wrought deliverance by the means of a weapon which seemed wholly unsuited to such a work; a contemptible instrument, to all appearance only suitable for goading brute creatures. Without wishing to press unduly here a typical meaning — a tendency to do which in teaching is dangerous in more ways than one — I would like to compare the ox-goad of Shamgar with the short sword of Ehud.

We have one weapon, the Word of God; it may be presented in different aspects, but it is the only one that the man of faith makes use of in the warfare. To the intellectual and unbelieving world it is like an ox-goad, fit, at the best, only for women, children and uneducated persons, full of fiction and contradictions; yet it is this instrument, despised by men, that God uses to gain the victory. In making use of it, faith finds a weapon where the world only sees folly, for the weakness of God is stronger than men. Doubtless, it is written for the unlearned and suited to their needs and to their walk; but this very ox-goad can kill six hundred Philistines.

Let us, then, make use of the Word with which God has entrusted us, always remembering that faith only can make it effectual, and that, too, when the soul has found therein for itself communion with God, the knowledge of Christ, and, therewith blessing, joy and strength, Judges - Meditations by Henri Rossi (Plymouth Brethren)

F B Meyer…


We have here an enumeration of the nations of Canaan left to try Israel (Judges 3:1-7). They ought to have been destroyed; but, as the chosen people failed to fulfil the Divine purpose and command, they had to suffer the fret of perpetual conflict. Difficulty and temptation, though due to our own failure and sin, may be used for blessed purposes, overruled by the providence of God, to teach us priceless lessons. The presence of the Canaanites, due to the disobedience and unbelief of Israel, proved them and taught them to be strong in war, and revealed to them many a trait in the Divine character to which otherwise they had been oblivious. But what a lamentable record is here that they forgot God. Intermarriage with the sinful peoples around had the effect of infecting them with their vices and sins, and it became only too convenient to ignore and forget the all-holy God. Be not yoked with unbelievers.

Judges 3:8-11 The first captivity and deliverance. -- It is a bitter record which here begins. The Holy Ghost says the Lord "sold them into the hands of the king of Mesopotamia" (Judges 3:8), who probably invaded the trans-Jordanic tribes which lay nearest to him; but it is also true that the people sold themselves. In their distress the people cried unto the Lord. Those who had called upon Baal and Ashtaroth in their mirth were glad enough to call on God in the day of their trouble. Let backsliders, and those that are reaping a bitter harvest from the results of their wrong-doing, take heart from the next record, that when the people cried, "the Lord raised them up a saviour:' Twice that statement is made in this chapter. Othniel was specially anointed for his work (Judges 3:10), and it would be well, if we would distinguish between the grace of the Spirit within us for character, and upon us for work, and if we would claim each. This anointing may be ours (2 Cor. 1:21, 22; 1 John 2:27).

Judges 3:12-30 Ehud's achievements stand next. -- Eglon was permitted by God to wax strong and to prevail against Israel. But again, when the people repented, deliverance came through a man who might not have been supposed most suited for the purpose. Throughout this book we shall have occasion to notice the kind of instruments which God selected for His work. All of them to be classed among the things that are not, but which bring to nought the things that are. Here a left-handed man (Judges 3:21). Let us take courage from this. Out of weakness He makes strong. To those that have no might He increases strength.

Judges 3:31 Shamgar. -- When it is said (Judges 3:30) that the land had rest for eighty years, it probably refers to that part of Canaan which lay east of the Jordan, and had been oppressed by Moab; but the other side, which lay southwest, was infested by Philistines, against whom Shamgar was victor. Deborah afterwards told how far-spread their plunderings or robbery had been (Judges 5:6). An ox-goad would be simply a piece of pointed iron from six feet to eight feet in length; but, though a formidable weapon, it would have failed to do this deed; unless God had been mighty with its owner. What may not the weakest weapons do with God behind them! (F. B. Meyer. CHOICE NOTES ON JOSHUA THROUGH 2 KINGS)

Charles Simeon…

Jdg 3:20

GOD frequently is pleased to make use of his enemies for the correction of his own people: but when he has accomplished by them the purposes of his grace, he then calls them also into judgment for the acts which they have performed. In executing his will they have no respect to him, but follow only the wicked inclinations of their own hearts; and therefore he recompenses them, not as obedient servants, but according to the real quality of their actions. Thus he dealt with Sennacherib, who was only gratifying his own ambition, whilst, as a sword in Jehovah’s hand, he was inflicting punishment on Israel: and thus he dealt with Eglon also, whom he had raised up to power for the purpose of chastising his offending people. Yet there is something very remarkable in the way in which God requited the wickedness of Eglon, and in which he delivered his people out of his hand. The man whom God raised up as his instrument, was Ehud; who, by a stratagem, effected the death of Eglon.

We will briefly set before you,

I. The conduct of Ehud—

Eglon, king of Moab, having subdued Israel, himself resided in Canaan, in the city of Palm-trees: and Ehud was sent, as the representative of Israel, to offer to him their accustomed tribute. But Ehud, hoping for an opportunity to assassinate Eglon, took a dagger with him: and, after having presented the tribute and left the city with his attendants, went back alone to Eglon, pretending to have a secret errand to him. Eglon ordered all other persons to depart from his presence, and thus gave Ehud a good opportunity of accomplishing his design. Ehud availed himself of it with great success: being left-handed, he drew forth the dagger without any suspicion, and plunged it, even the haft together with the blade, into the belly of Eglon, who instantly fell down dead. Ehud then retired from the secret chamber where the transaction had taken place, and locked the doors after him, and went composedly away, as though nothing particular had happened; and thus effected his escape; and instantly stirred up Israel to cast off the yoke of Moab, before their enemies should have had time to concert their measures under another head.

Now to form a correct estimate of this action, we must consider it in two different points of view;

1. As voluntarily undertaken—

[In this view it was altogether indefensible. Treachery and murder can never be justified. Though Eglon was an usurper and a cruel oppressor, still the Israelites professed subjection to him; and Ehud went as their messenger, to present to Eglon their acknowledgments of that subjection. If he had chosen to cast off the yoke of Moab, he was at liberty to do so in a way of open warfare: but to become an assassin he had no right: nor could the end which he proposed, sanctify the means he used: the means were wrong; and he had “no right to do evil that good might come.”]

2. As divinely commissioned—

[No created power could have authorized Abraham to slay his son, or Israel to plunder Egypt, and extirpate the inhabitants of Canaan: nor could any human being have executed such things of his own mind, without contracting very heinous guilt. But God is not bound by the rules which he has imposed on us: he may act towards his creatures as he sees best, and may employ instruments in any way that he pleases: nor would even an angel contract defilement in executing any commission that God had given him. An angel slew in one night all the first-born in the land of Egypt; and on another occasion, a hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians: yet no one thinks of imputing guilt to him on that account:—so Ehud, if appointed to the work by God, might innocently effect it in the way he did. Jehu was commissioned by God to dethrone Ahab, and destroy his family: and, though he was punished afterwards because he was not actuated by a becoming zeal for the glory of God, yet for the action itself he was rewarded even to the fourth generation. Precisely thus may Ehud at this moment be receiving a reward from God for that act of his, which, under other circumstances, would have been highly sinful. And there is reason to believe that he was directed by God in that action; since not only were his wisdom, courage, and success, beyond all that could have been expected in a merely human enterprise, but we are expressly told that “God raised up this man to be the deliverer of his people.”

We must not however imagine, that his conduct is to be followed as a precedent: for no man can dare to follow it, unless he have infallible evidence that he is called of God to do so: but, as no man can expect such a call at this time, no man can without the deepest criminality presume to imitate his example.]

Having thrown what light we can on the dubious conduct of Ehud, we proceed to suggest,—

II. Some reflections arising from it—

Supposing Ehud to have been divinely commissioned, he might well say to Eglon, “I have a message from God to thee.” At all events his language leads us to observe,

1. That God does send messages to mortal men—

[The whole creation is delivering to us, as it were, a message from God, and conveying to us the knowledge of his perfections (Ro 1:20-note; Ps. 19:1, 2, 3, 4-note) — — — Every providential dispensation also has some important lesson to communicate: the mercies of God declare his goodness to us, and invite us to repentance (Ro 2:4-note), and his judgments are intended to discover to us some truths which we did not previously discern: “Hear ye the rod,” saith the prophet, “and Him that hath appointed it.” (Mic 6:9) But it is in his word more especially that God comes down to commune with sinful man. His Gospel is so called from the very circumstance of its being a message of mercy, or, as the word means, good tidings from God to man: and ministers are ambassadors from him, sent to beseech you in his name to accept reconciliation with him through the death of his Son. Indeed this message contains the substance of all that we have to speak to you in God’s name; and from hence it is called by God himself, “the ministry of reconciliation.” Behold then this day we come unto you and say, “We have a message from God to you!” He sends us this day to invite you to come to him for all the blessings of salvation, and to receive them freely at his hands, “without money, and without price.” (Is 55:1, 2, 3) — — —]

2. That, by whomsoever his messages are delivered, we should attend to them with the profoundest reverence—

[Though Eglon was a king, and Ehud an oppressed servant, yea, though Eglon was a heathen that did not worship the true God, yet, the very instant that Ehud announced that he had a message from God unto him, he rose up from his seat, that he might receive it with the greater reverence. And does not this idolatrous heathen reproach us, who, when God’s servants are delivering messages to us in his name, scarcely pay any attention to them, or perhaps fall asleep in the midst of them? Behold, how Israel listened to the reading of God’s word in the days of Nehemiah (Neh 8:3, 5, 6) — — — that is the way in which we should read or hear the word of God at this time. We should not come to the house of God as critics, to sit in judgment; or as curious persons, to be entertained; but as sinners, to “hear what the Lord God will say concerning us.” Beautiful is the example of Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:33): they did not regard Peter as a man, but as a messenger from God: and in like manner should we also “receive the word, not as the word of man, but, as it is in truth, the word of God.” (1Th 2:13-note) O that the spirit of Samuel were more visible in us (1Sa 3:10), and that we sought instruction from the word, only in order to obey it!” (John 9:36)]

3. That we should ever be prepared for whatsoever message he may send—

[Who can tell but that as his message to Eglon was a message of death, so he may send to us this day, saying, “Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die and not live.” He needs not the aid of an assassin to take away our lives: there are millions of ways in which death may seize upon us. As for our security, the more secure we are in our own apprehension, the more likely are we to receive such a message from God. (1Th 5:3-note) It was when the rich fool was looking forward to years of enjoyment, that God said to him, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee:” and it was when Job fondly expected he should “die in his nest,” (Job 29:18. See also Ps 30:6, 7) that God pulled down his nest, and despoiled him of all that he had. Let us not then promise ourselves an hour’s continuance even of life itself (Pr 27:1): but be standing “with our loins girt, and our lamps trimmed, that at whatever hour our Lord may come, he may find us watching” — — —]

Application — — —

This may be more appropriate or more general: in the former case, a message may be delivered as from God himself to Oppressors, and the Oppressed; (to awe the one, as Isa 10:5-18 and encourage the other, as Isa 10:24, 25, 26, 27.) in the latter case, an Address may be made to the Careless, the Backsliding, and the Faithful, with the prefatory Remark to each, “I have a message from God to thee.” (Simeon, C. Horae Homileticae Vol. 3: Judges to 2 Kings)