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11th March

Judges 1-3; Psalm 70

Bible in a Year
4 minutes
In this article
11th March

Judges 1-3; Psalm 70

Bible in a Year
4 minutes


As part of the Deuteronomistic books (Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings), Judges is a telling of a portion of Israel’s history framed in light of the blessings and curses we read of in Deuteronomy 28. When the people are obedient, we see them flourish. When they are disobedient, we see them struggle and suffer. Unfortunately, Judges is focused on disobedience.

Judges 1-2 - Introduction and story of Israel’s failure

Judges 3-16 - Corruption of Israel’s judges

  • Judges 3-5 - Good judges: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah

  • Judges 6-9 - Okay judge: Gideon

  • Judges 10-12 - Bad judge: Jephthah

  • Judges 13-16 - Worse judge: Sampson

Judges 17-21 - Corruption of Israel’s people

  • Judges 17-18 - The tribe of Dan’s violence

  • Judges 19-21 - Sexual abuse and civil war

The whole focus of the book of Judges is to show the moral decline of Israel. The first two chapters set the theme and then the rest of the book shows that gradual decline.

By the end of the book, the Israelites are behaving worse than the people they drove out. Their disobedience leads to their own corruption.

Judges 1-3

The book of Judges picks up where Joshua left off, but with a very different focus. Joshua was focused on God keeping his promise to bring Israel into the land he promised them. It's positive.

Judges focuses on how Israel messes everything up after Joshua. In the first chapter, it lists how each of the tribes failed to completely remove the enemy from the land they had taken.

It starts with Judah, the tribe that had done the best job, and then works its way down the list ending with Dan, who were beaten back by their enemies, the Amorites. Eventually, this land would get swallowed up by the tribe of Ephraim (of the house of Jospeh).

This failure to remove their enemies from the land completely has a big impact on Israel. Over time, these enemies persuade Israel to worship their gods and then away from the God of Israel.

Judges 2 highlights the cycle that we're going to see throughout the rest of the book. Israel were disobedient, turning away from God. God would then hand them over to their enemies, allowing them to be defeated in battle and oppressed.

The Israelites would realise the error of their ways and repent, so God would send judges, tribal leaders, to rescue the people and the lead them back to God. For a time, the people would be obedient and then, as soon as that judge died, they would turn away from God again.

This next section of Judges (Judges 3-16) gives us many examples of exactly this happening. We start off with some judges that did well, and as we travel through the book, the judges are going to get worse and worse.

The first is Othniel, who saved Israel from a Mesopotamian king, Cushan-Rishathaim. God placed his spirit upon Othniel. He rose up, took charge of Israel's army, and defeated the Mesopotamians in battle. Israel had 40 years of peace under Othniel.

Second is Ehud who rescued the Israelites from the Moabites. He pretended to have a secret message for the king of Moab and then, when they were alone, killed him and escaped.

Then, as the Moabites were struggling with the death of their king, he led the Israelite army to defeat them. Israel had 80 years of peace under Ehud.

Thirdly, we have Shamgar. Not much is said about Shamgar other than the fact that the Israelites were being oppressed by the Philistines and so he went out with an ox goad, which was a long spear type weapon, and killed 600 Philistines single handedly.

Repeatedly, we see the disobedience of the Israelites. They had specifically been chosen by God to be an example to the world, and they had committed themselves to God multiple times. And yet, despite this, they continue to choose to do things their own way.

Psalm 70

This psalm is attributed to king David and falls into the category of lament psalm. Just. There is very little complaint in the psalm, so some would argue that it is a psalm of petition instead. I would argue the complaint is implicit in the request.

Psalm 70:1-3 - A request

Psalm 70:4 - A declaration of trust

Psalm 70:5 - A complaint, trust, and request

The psalmist opens with a call to God to deliver them. They have enemies who seek their life, and so the psalmist asks that God deals with them. Put them to shame just as they have tried to shame the psalmist.

Next, the psalmist declares their trust in God as they encourage others to seek God and rejoice in him.

Finally, the psalmist makes their final request. They are poor and needy, so they ask God to help them. They already know that God is their deliverer, so they ask that God deliver them soon.

The psalm serves as a model for quick prayers of lament. It shows how, at times when you feel at a loss for words because life is hard, you weave together your complaint, request, and trust into a simple short prayer.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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