Skip to main content
13th March

Judges 6-8; Psalm 72

Bible in a Year
6 mintues
In this article
13th March

Judges 6-8; Psalm 72

Bible in a Year
6 mintues


So far in Judges, we've read through the introduction that sets the cycle for the rest of the book. The Israelites failed to remove the other nations from the land completely when they conquered it. Because of this, these other nations led the Israelites to turn away from God.

This created a cycle. The Israelites would turn away from God and his protection. God would allow a foreign nation to come and oppress his people. The Israelites would then realise their mistake and turn back to God. God would send judges, tribal leaders, to rescue the people and the lead them back to him. The people would live in peace for a while, before getting complacent and turning away from God again.

We then read through the first few iterations of this cycle with the judges, Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar. Each led the Israelites to defeat the enemies that oppressed them and then live in an extended period of peace. But for each, after they died, the Israelites once again turned away from God and back to their own desires.

Next up was Deborah who led the Israelites to defeat the Canaanites. Their commander fled and was lulled into a tent and to sleep by a woman named Jael, who then crushed his head. Because Deborah and Jael were faithful to God, they were able to crush the head of their enemy, just like God promised the descendant of the woman would do to the serpent in Genesis 3. These four judges made up the good judges of Israel.

Judges 6-8

The next judge we get is less than ideal. Once again, Israel turns away from God and does evil, so this time God gives them over to the Midianites. Because of the oppression, Israel cries out to God. God then raises up a prophet who points out that they are in this mess because they haven't been faithful.

At the same time, the angel of the Lord goes to a man named Gideon to raise him up to be Israel’s next judge. But unlike the judges before him, Gideon lacks the confidence and trust in God. When God first comes to him, Gideon says there's no way he can do what God is asking because he is too weak.

On its own, that's not too bad. Moses did a similar thing when God first called him. He then asks God to prove that he is actually God by getting an offering for him and seeing what God does with it. Then he finally decided to obey God by destroying the Asherah pole and the altar to Baal. But because he's scared of the people and doesn't have confidence that God is with him, he waits till night comes and destroys them when no one is looking.

Then there is perhaps the most famous story about Gideon, him and his fleece. Twice, he asks God for a sign to confirm something that God has clearly told him face to face. This is someone that really doesn't trust that God will protect and save them.

Eventually, Gideon does go out to war and we get a miraculous story on the power of God, as he uses just 300 men to defeat their enemies. God has clearly noted how wicked Israel has become, and realises that this time they wouldn’t even recognise that it was God that was rescuing them. They would just assume they’d done it in their own strength.

So God cuts the army of over 30,000 down to just 300. He then leads Gideon into the enemy camp to hear that even their enemies can see that God is the one leading the Israelites. Encouraged, Gideon goes into the enemy camp with his 300 men and routes them, chasing them as they flee.

On the way, Gideon invites the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Manasseh, and Ephraim to help him and they’re able to capture two of the Midianite kings and kill them. But even in this, we see how far the Israelites are falling. Rather than celebrate the victory, the people of Ephraim use this as an opportunity to be offended and turn on their fellow Israelites for not, inviting them to the battle sooner. Gideon, wisely, is able to placate them and continues on the hunt for the two remaining kings of Midian.

While chasing them, Gideon stops at the Israelite city of Succoth and asks for some food, but the city refuses. The same happens at Peul. Gideon then goes on to capture the two remaining Midianite kings and then comes back to kill the men of these two cities for refusing him food. In this, we see Gideon’s aggression and violence. This was meant to be a campaign against Midian to free Israel from oppression, not an opportunity to attack and kill fellow Israelites because they won’t do what Gideon asked.

The people then ask if they can crown him as king and wisely he tells them, "The Lord will rule over you". But he goes on to act like a king over them anyway. He collects gold from them all and makes for himself and ephod, which was a garment that had been specifically designed for the high priest.

Gideon is our first example of a judge gone bad. He did all that God had asked him. He freed the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites. But he also did his fair share of oppressing and disobeying God. As we continue, we're going to see the Judges start behaving worse and worse.

Psalm 72

This psalm is attributed to Solomon and falls into the category of a royal psalm. It was likely read at the coronation of a new king. As with most royal psalms, this psalm can be read through a messianic lense, as though talking about the future king, Jesus.

It’s also the psalm that ends the second book of the Psalms, which covered Psalms 42-72. The last three verses are a doxology that ends the book, rather than just end the psalm.

Psalm 72:1-6 - A prayer for the king; for justice and provision

Psalm 72:7-11 - A prayer for peace

Psalm 72:12-14 - The king will deliver the poor and oppressed

Psalm 72:15-17 - Blessings for the king

Psalm 72:18-20 - Final doxology

The psalmist opens with the request that God grant the king justice and righteousness. We’ve seen through many psalms now that justice is a core beat of God’s heart, and it is to be the same for their king.

The king is to lead with justice and righteousness, and when he does, it leads the people to prosperity. They are to defend the poor and needy, and resist and defeat the oppressors.

This then leads to peace in the land, both internally as righteous people flourish, but also with the surrounding nations. Other nations will want to trade and bring gifts.

And then the psalmist turns back to justice. The king is the one who delivers the poor, the weak, and the needy. He rescues them from violence and oppression.

Having prayed that the king might rule well, the psalmist now prays for the king himself. May the king live a long life and be blessed with wealth. May others continue to pray for him and offer him their support. May we see the nation flourish because of him, so that his name lives on forever as a good king.

In this, we see a good principle for leadership. The people are to pray for and support their leader, and the leader is to use their position to benefit the people they lead, not themselves. And in it all, both the people and the leader must recognise that the real power and authority is God himself.

Which is where the psalmist ends. Bless be the God of Israel. He is the one who does miraculous things and may his name be lifted high. Then comes the phrase “The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.” This suggests we’re meant to read this as David’s prayer for Solomon before he passes on the crown to him.

The strongest push to see this psalm as a messianic psalm, that talks about the future king that would be found in Jesus, is the fact that no king of Israel ever lives up to this psalm. At face value, Solomon comes closest. But the more you dig into his story, you see the people were burdened with heavy taxes while Solomon grew richer.

The messiah would be one that serves the poor and the needy, that leads with righteousness and justice, and that brings peace, not just to Israel but to the whole earth.

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.

Share this article