For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

This book records the history of Israel from the death of Joshua until the coming of Saul, and apart from the few short-lived victories achieved under the Judges (12 men and one woman), the record is one of defeat for Israel.  As Scofield puts it, it is one of “rebellion, retribution, repentance, and restoration.”

The events cover approximately 400 years, scholars differing considerably as to the exact beginning and end of the period, so that approximate dates only can be given, c.1400 - 1100 BC

The author is generally assumed to be Samuel.

As a result of the seven-year campaign under the leadership of Joshua the whole of Canaan had been potentially subdued, it remaining only for each tribe to exterminate the original inhabitants from its allotted portion.  The sorry record is of their failure to do this, and of their choosing instead in many instances to put the enemy to tribute, or to leave them in undisputed possession of what God, under Joshua, had given Israel, and commanded them to possess.  This was flagrant disobedience, soon compounded by their intermarrying with the Canaanites, and bowing down to their gods, the result being that often they themselves became the servants of the enemy they ought to have exterminated.

Divine retribution frequently took the form of God’s delivering His disobedient people into the hand of the enemy, whose tyranny caused Israel to cry out to Him for deliverance.  In response to that cry He raised up deliverers in the form of the Judges, through whom He broke the yoke of the oppressor; but, as noted already, the history is a dreary repetition of this cycle of rebellion, retribution, repentance, recovery, and renewed rebellion.

It is to be noted also that there is clear evidence that the rule of some of the Judges overlapped, and that the deliverances were almost invariably local rather than national.

The picture is generally recognized as being simply the symbolic history of the professing Church, whose history has followed exactly the same pattern.  The victory accomplished by the true Joshua at Calvary has set before the Church the same potential power to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, as Joshua’s conquest of Canaan set before Israel the power to overcome the inhabitants of that land.   But she has simply repeated the cycle that makes her history a repetition of Israel’s.

The record has been preserved, however, to instruct us, Israel’s chastisements being God’s warnings to us that the same results must attend our own disobedience; the deliverances and victories assuring us that we, through obedience, may enjoy the same results in our conflict with the spiritual foes against whom we wrestle (Eph 6:12), and who are symbolized in the Canaanite tribes who opposed Israel.  Not the least of those foes is the flesh within us, its varied characteristics being represented by the assorted enemy tribes occupying Canaan.

A very necessary lesson will have been missed if we fail to read another clear statement in the history of the Judges.  To be looking for the world to be subdued by the Gospel during this present age, or to expect revival in the Church world wide, is an idle dream that simply declares our failure to understand the clear teaching of Scripture.  There was no recovery for Israel nationally until after the reign of Saul, and the coming of David, nor will there be victory for the Church at large.  Her expectation is, not of overcoming the world, but of being caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thes 4:16-18).  Shortly after that catching up to heaven (the rapture of the Church), the seven-year Tribulation era will begin, in which the reign of the beast will correspond to the evil reign of Saul (who is himself a figure or type of the Tribulation age beast ruler), and as his reign was followed by that of David, who while he lived passed the scepter to his son Solomon, so will the reign of the beast be followed by that of the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom David and Solomon are types, David representing Him in rejection and suffering; Solomon representing Him in millennial power and glory. 

The deliverances granted Israel in response to repentance, in the days of the Judges, were local, and of short duration.  The history of the professing Church during the past 2000 years has been the sad confirmation that the one history is but a repetition of the other: the Church’s recoveries have also been local, and of short duration.

The days of the Judges ended with the enemy in control, and Israel divided, the Divine record being that, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”  He is spiritually blind who fails to see that this is also the description of the days we are living in.  As Israel’s national deliverance came only when the usurper Saul was dead, and David was seated on the throne, so will there be victory for the Church, and for the believing remnant of Israel, only after the Tribulation-age beast ruler is dead, and the scepter of earth rests in the hand of Christ.  Then, and only then, will Israel - the believing remnant that will emerge from the Tribulation - rule over the earth, a literal descendant of David sitting on the throne in the earthly Jerusalem, while the Lord Jesus Christ, and the resurrected saints with Him, rule over the earth from the heavenly Jerusalem.  The government of the millennial earth will be what it was in the days of David and Solomon: a theocracy.

In concluding this very brief introduction we might note that as Ephesians is generally accepted as the NT counterpart of Joshua, so is 2 Timothy viewed by many as the NT complement of Judges.

[Judges 1]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough