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16th March

Judges 16-18; Psalm 75

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
16th March

Judges 16-18; Psalm 75

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


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. These were followed by Deborah, who, along with a woman named Jael, helped Israel defeat their Canaanite enemies.

But then came Gideon, who wasn't as good a judge. He helped the Israelites defeat the Midianites and gave them 40 years of peace. But through it all, he often lacked confidence in God and was violent and oppressive to the people he was meant to lead. Gideon was followed by his son Abimelech, who was even more aggressive than Gideon. He killed all his brothers and then caused a civil war.

Next up was Jephthah, who completely misunderstood the character of God and sacrificed his daughter to God. He then caused an even bigger civil war where 42,000 Ephraimites died. Then yesterday we read about Samson who looked like he was going to be different. God came down and told his mother she would give birth to a son who would save the people and was to live a holy life. But Samson was born and turned his back on his duty instead living a hedonistic lifestyle.

Judges 16-18

We see Samson's story continue. First, he gets caught up with a prostitute and then he gets caught up with a woman called Delilah. Like Samson's first wife, Delilah is manipulated by the leaders of the Philistines to get the better of Samson.

Three times she asks Samson for the source of his strength, and three times he lies to her. Each time she tries to bind him and calls the Philistines to get him, but he bursts out of his bindings.

The writer does not paint Samson in a good light here. Either he is extraordinarily proud, or he is just plain stupid. If he's proud, it's because he believes that, even if they do cut his hair, he could still defeat them and escape. If it's stupid, it's because he is completely smitten with Delilah and honestly believes she won't betray him again. Either way, this is not the behaviour of a judge of Israel.

The final time Delilah cuts his hair, the Philistines capture him, put out his eyes and place him in jail. A little time later, they have a party and bring out Samson to laugh at him.

During this time, some of Samson's hair has grown back and so Samson prays to God, asking him for his strength back. He then reaches out to touch the pillars keeping up the roof and collapses the whole building, killing himself and everyone inside.

The writer mentions how Samson killed more Philistines that day than in his entire life. Despite Samson's terrible behaviour, God's will was still achieved. God is still in control.

From here, things go from bad to worse. Having read of the decline of Israel’s judges, we now digger deeper into the decline of the Israelites themselves. We read a few times over the next few chapters "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes".

We start with a young man called Micah, who steals from his mother but decides to return the silver after she curses whoever stole it. To forgive him, she has some of the silver turned into an idol and gives it to him.

Obviously, we know the people were not meant to make idols for themselves, so already we can see this is bad. Along with this idol, Micah makes a shrine for the idol and an ephod so he can make his son a priest in his shrine.

A young Levite man then travels through the area, and Micah sees him and invites him to be a priest for him in his house as well. There are set rules for who can and can't be a priest, and how the priests are to be ordained.

In short, this man has almost set up his own religion, worshipping an idol that shouldn't be worshipped, in his home when this kind of worship should only happen at the place that God had decided (Deuteronomy 12), and the worship is being led by someone who shouldn't be leading worship.

We've seen the corruption of one man's household spread to infect a Levite and the way the priesthood work. We then watch as it spreads to an entire tribe.

The tribe of Dan are still looking for a land to properly call their home. They spot a land called Laish that was prosperous. The people there were unprepared for battle because they felt secure that no one would attack them.

On their way towards Laish, the tribe of Dan find the Levite priest and the idols at Micah's house and steal them away. Micah complains to them but they threaten to kill him if he opposes them, so he goes home empty-handed.

They then go on to kill the people of Laish, take over the town, set themselves up with their new priest and idols. The tribe of Dan have been violent, taken land that wasn’t theirs to take, and set themselves up with their own idol and priest. Once again, the tribe of Dan is living up to the word spoken over them that they would be like a serpent that bites at a horse’s heels (Genesis 49:16).

Psalm 75

The psalm’s title starts with an interesting phrase “To the choirmaster: according to do not destroy”. ‘Do Not Destroy’ was likely the name of another song at that time and this psalm was to be sung to the same tune as that song. The psalm is attributed to Asaph, one of David’s musicians.

Placing this psalm in a category is difficult. It can loosely fit into thanksgiving psalms, but sort of fits into its own category of prophetic psalm. The worship leader stands on behalf of the congregation and gives thanks, and then God speaks through them to the people. At first glance, it’s not always easy to see when it’s the worship leader, and when it’s God, that’s talking.

Psalm 75:1 - The worship leader gives thanks

Psalm 75:2-3 - God promises future judgement

Psalm 75:4-5 - The worship leader/God challenges the wicked not to boast

Psalm 75:6-9 - The worship leader declares God is judge

Psalm 75:10 - God promises future judgement

The psalmist begins with the worship leader give thanks to God for he has been close to them and has done incredible things. Then God takes over. He speaks of a time when he will judge those on earth. While it might seem to the people that God isn’t judging now, it will come. He is the God who keeps the earth and all in it in their place.

And then it’s not clear whether God continues, or the worship leader takes over again. Commentators argue both ways. Either way, whoever is speaking challenges the boastful and the wicked to not get too big for their boots. To not assume because everything is going alright for them now that they will go unpunished.

Then we definitely have the worship leader talking about God’s authority. You won’t find strength and restoration by travelling east or west or going into the desert. God is the one who judges, punishing some while upholding others.

God is holding a cup full of wine. This is a common image of God’s judgement ready to be poured out (see Isaiah 51:17, Jeremiah 25:15-17). He will pour it out on the wicked and make them drink every last drop. But the worship leader will sing God’s praises.

To end, God comes back in. He declares that he will defeat the wicked and lift up the righteous.

In this psalm, we get the declaration of the truth that God will bring order to this chaotic world. There will come a day when wickedness is cut of and the righteous are lifted up and flourish.

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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