Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!
FORTY-FIVE YEARS PASSED OVER IN SILENCE
CRITICAL NOTES.— Judges 10:1. After Abimelech.] This man is recognised as having been a ruler in Israel, notwithstanding his scandalous career. Probably he was permitted to occupy this position for a time, as a new method of chastising the people for their extreme tendency to choose another king than Jehovah, and to show that “their sorrows should be multiplied that hasten after another god.” The rigorous rule of the bramble-bush sovereign was as severe an affliction, as the inrushing of a marauding foe from without. By this course, too, means were furnished for exhibiting the desperate wickedness of the human heart; and the case is held up as a beacon to warn the men of every age.
To defend Israel.] Not against any actual assault of an enemy, but he stood forth as the guardian of the public safety, ready, when necessary, to ward off all danger, and, by his very presence, to prevent any disturbance of the national peace from within or from without. He would administer justice wisely, and provide against the likely or possible incursions of surrounding foes.
Tola, the son of Puah, the son of Dodo.] Puah is also written Pua and Phuvah. This time the tribe of Issachar is chosen to provide a judge. In David’s time, they were men of renown, “that had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). God chose the “saviours” from different tribes, to show His readiness to honour all the tribes in turn. This was a proof also that the organic unity of Israel was still preserved. Dodo—is here a proper name, and is not to be taken as meaning “uncle,” (Sept.) (2 Samuel 23:9).
Dwelt in Shamir.] When he entered on the duties of his office, he found it more convenient to live nearer the centre of the country, and accordingly he went to Mount Ephraim.
Judges 10:2. Judged Israel.] The northern and eastern tribes. Twenty-three years and died.] Not a single particular of his public life is recorded. But it was not therefore unimportant. To secure peace was no small blessing. To be a check on the outbreakings of idolatry was for the covenanted people an immense benefit. Though no fame was acquired, “the Lord had need of him” for a time. He has need of the purling brook as well as the majestic stream. In man’s judgment the one may seem insignificant compared with the other, but in God’s estimation everything is beautiful in its place. The family line of Tola, however, appear to have been distinguished in Israel all along, beginning with the ancestor (Genesis 46:13; Numbers 26:23), and going on to the days of David (1 Chronicles 7:1-5), including the judge mentioned in this chapter.
Judges 10:3. Jair the Gileadite,] born in Gilead, the half of which was given to the half-tribe of Manasseh (Deuteronomy 3:13). This name has occasioned much discussion. It must be remembered that family names were a feature in Israelitish history—the same name frequently coming in, in the same line of descent, through different generations. Jair was the name of the ancestral head of one of the most influential family lines in Manasseh. He was one, apparently the chief, of the “children of Machir,” who, in the days of the dividing of the land, “dispossessed the Amorite that was in Gilead,” and first “took some of the small towns, calling them Havoth-jair” (the abodes of Jair), and afterwards accomplished the most important feat of taking “the 60 great cities with walls and brazen bars that were in the region of Argob, a part of Bashan.” This was the land of the giants; and such a victory could only have been gained through faith. To perpetuate it he called these 60 walled towns of the giants by the name of Bashan-havoth-jair—meaning the abodes, or towns, which Jair conquered for himself in the giant country. Hence, honour is done to this ancestor of the line by referring to him frequently (Numbers 32:39-41; Deuteronomy 3:13-14; Joshua 13:30; 1 Kings 4:13), and especially as the possessor of these Bashan cities by conquest.
Reference is made also to Jair in 1 Chronicles 2:22, who cannot be the same with the first Jair, for “the towns of Jair” are spoken of as existing before his time (1 Chronicles 2:23), i.e., the towns of the first, or ancestral Jair. Some suppose the allusion is to Jair, the judge. It may have been so, notwithstanding the statement that this Jair’s grandmother is said to have been the “daughter of Machir” (1 Chronicles 2:21-22), and as hundreds of years elapsed between the days of Machir and the time of Jair the judge, there must have been several generations during the interval. Yet that difficulty could be solved by understanding the word “daughter” to mean descendant of Machir, which is so often done in the accounts given of family lines among the Israelites. But where the accounts given are so meagre, it is impossible to decide definitely whether the Jair in 1 Chronicles 2:22 was the same with Jair, the judge here, or was another person of the same name. If he was the same, then he had at first 23 cities, and must have increased them to 30, that every one of his sons might have a city; or, as some think, he got possession of the 60 cities which the first Jair took out of the hands of the Amorite (1 Chronicles 2:23). It is, however, probable that there were more than even two persons, heads of families, called by this name, for on account of its fame many would be desirous to hand it down.
Judged Israel twenty-two years.] From this long period of peaceable government, we may suppose, he was a very capable administrator of justice, as well as a man of high character for piety like his great ancestors.
Judges 10:4. That rode on thirty ass colts.] Horses were not then in the country. To ride on an ass was at that time equivalent to a man keeping his carriage now. It was a mark of wealth, which few could afford, for nearly the whole population were accustomed to go from place to place on foot. This must, therefore, have been a large and opulent family. The ass was then a superior type of animal to what it is and long has been in these more recent times. This was especially true of the “white ass” (ch. Judges 5:10, also ch. Judges 12:14; 1 Kings 1:33; 1 Kings 10:28). The horse when it appeared was generally associated with war, while the ass being quiet and the reverse of formidable, was regarded as the symbol of peace. Hence Zion’s King came riding on an ass, His kingdom being one of peace (Zechariah 9:9).
Thirty cities which are called Havoth-jair unto this day.] Probably the same towns as those in Numbers 32:41, when the name Havoth-jair was first used; also in 1 Kings 4:13 (second clause). They are here called “cities,” though in reality only villages. “Villages are cities to a contented mind” (Henry).
Judges 10:5. Was buried in Camon.] Probably on the west side of Jordan. It deserves to be noticed, that of all whom God called to serve Him in the office of judge or king, care is taken to say what became of their dust.
A FRESH COURSE OF SIN AND PENITENCE
Judges 10:6. Did evil again in the sight of the Lord.] (See on ch. Judges 2:12-19; Judges 3:7-8; Judges 3:12; Judges 4:1-3; Judges 6:1-2, &c.). They continue to do evil, as if there were no curing of this plague of the heart, in departing from the living and true God.
The gods of Syria (Aram), of Zidon, of Moab, &c.] Notwithstanding all the expostulation used, the warnings given, and the severe applications of the rod, they still persisted in apostasy, nay, more, they are worse than ever; for now they go in for idolatry wholesale. Well might the prophet call on heaven and earth to listen to the tale of such dreadful impiety (Isaiah 1:2-7; Jer. chs. 1–10; Hosea-passim. The heathen being left only with the dim light of nature, could never rise to the vast conception of supposing universal power, infinite wisdom, and perfect goodness, to be concentrated in one God. Hence they supposed it laid a broader and safer basis, to have many gods, as implying greater resources. Even Cicero, though he set forth in his book, De Natura Deorum, the vanity of the heathen deities, yet declared in one of his orations, that it “did not become the majesty of the Roman empire to worship one god only.” But on this point, Israel had the most precise teaching, and therefore sinned against the clearest light.
The gods of Syria, or Aram, are not named, but one of them was Rimmon (2 Kings 5:18), They were worshipped by Ahaz, as the gods of Damascus (2 Chronicles 28:23; 2 Kings 16:10), Those of the Zidonians, or Phenicians, were Baal and Ashteroth; of the Moabites, Chemosh; of the children of Ammon, Moloch, or Milcom; and of the Philistines, Dagon. These probably had all substantially the same features of character, just as all wicked men have a family likeness, yet there might be many varieties owing to local and accidental associations. The great fact always coming out was, that the worship of Jehovah was set aside (1 Kings 11:6-8). This amounted to the plucking up of religion by the roots, had it been allowed to continue.
Judges 10:7. The anger of the Lord was kindled.] After the modes of speech used among men, the strong Divine opposition to such high-handed sin is here intimated; but we are not to suppose there was any ungovernable emotion in the Divine mind, such as we always associate with anger in human bosoms. Sold them into the hands of, &c.] comp. Deuteronomy 32:30 (see on Judges 3:8; Judges 4:2). The idolatry seems to have been on all sides, and so one enemy is raised up on the east, and another on the west. The Ammonites oppressed those on the east side of Jordan principally, and the Philistines, the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin, being nearest to them. This oppression by the Philistines is that which is referred to in the days of Samson, but is supposed to have been coeval with that of the eastern tribes by the children of Ammon, so long as that continued. The calamity which befel the trans-Jordanic tribes is first described.
Judges 10:8. That year they vexed and oppressed for eighteen years. &c.] We take it to be the year when God first gave them up helplessly into the hands of the enemy. That year on for 18 years. The enemy hated that people above all others, and as soon as they got the opportunity they were not slow to improve it. They oppressed with a will, and that for as many years as they had permission. Well might David say, “Let me not fall into the hands of man.” The verbs רָעַצ and רָצַץ have much the same meaning, and express rough and violent treatment, nearly equivalent to Psalms 2:9 (last clause). They were crushed, or dashed to pieces. The use of the two words is to give emphasis to the statement (comp. ch. Judges 4:3; Judges 6:1-6.
9. Passed over Jordan to fight against Judah, &c.] Probably they had laid bare all the country on the east side, and now they wished to ravage the lands on the west side. This appears to have been when many years of the oppression had gone, and before as yet the weight of the Philistine power had been much felt.
10. Cried unto the Lord, &c.] Comp. ch. Judges 2:9-15; Judges 4:3; Judges 6:6. This was no doubt a cry of distress, which is little more than an instinct of nature, but it also contains some acknowledgement of their sins, as the cause of their misery, and so is better than the mere howling of an animal when it is stricken (Hosea 7:14). The connecting particles וַני in that, is a specific putting of the finger on the cause of all their distress. We have tinned, inasmuch as we have forsaken God and served Balaam.
Judges 10:11. Did not I deliver you?] This is supplemented, but most justly so. From the Egyptians Exodus 1-14); from the Amorites (Numbers 21:21-35); from the children of Ammon (ch. Judges 3:12-13, etc.); from the Philistines (ch. Judges 3:31, through Shamgar). [In 1 Samuel 12:9, the Philistines come between Moab and Sisera, but we are not to take that as meaning the historical connection].
Judges 10:12. The Zidonians also (the general name for the league of nations to the north of Canaan whose forces were commanded by Sisera); the Amalekites (the reference here is chiefly to ch. Judges 3:13 and Judges 6:3. When any attack was to be made on Israel, Amalek was always ready); and the Maonites (the Midianites, or probably that section of the Midianites that were next to Israel, and planned the invasion of ch. 6, but were joined by the great mass of the confederated people) see 2 Chronicles 26:7.
Judges 10:13. Yet ye have forsaken me, etc.] All this is said to produce deeper conviction of sin. For the really serious thing is to have thorough work in dealing with the sin. That well done, it is quick and easy work to bring round the deliverance. “God keeps count of His deliverances; much more ought we to do so”—(Trapp), comp. Deuteronomy 32:5-6; Ezra 9:13-14. The great deliverances which God here calls to mind are seven in number, corresponding with the number of the different national idols which they had served, every one of which had brought them low, almost to the point of destruction. A most valuable double instruction was conveyed by these sevens. A seven times trial (complete) was made of their hearts, and they were found capable of casting off their God in order to serve any idol, no matter what, all round the compass! An equally full trial was made of the character of their God, and He was found incapable of casting them off and breaking His covenant, notwithstanding their repeated and highly aggravated sins!
I will deliver you no more.] Speaking after the manner of men, this was the treatment they deserved. They could not reasonably expect anything else. It is the language of upbraiding, and partly of threatening. But even in Israel’s worst days the assurance is held out, that where there is true penitence, there will be pardon (Jeremiah 26:3; Jeremiah 26:13; Jeremiah 31:18-20; Revelation 2:5). For “God often threatens that He may not punish. He pardons such sin too, as no man could do (see Jeremiah 3:1)”—(Trapp). The whole of this remonstrance is parallel to the case of Hosea 5:15; Hosea 6:1-3, where God chastises His people by hiding His face from them which soon brings them into deep waters, so that they are glad to return to Him; comp. also Isaiah 57:17-18.
Judges 10:15. Do to us what seemeth good unto Thee.] They leave themselves, confessedly guilty, in God’s hands. They are ready “to accept the punishment of their iniquity” (Leviticus 26:41; Leviticus 26:43). They practically say “we will bear the indignation of the Lord, for we have sinned against Him” (Micah 7:9). This was the very best thing they could do—to confess at once they were all in the wrong and deserved chastisement, but leaving themselves entirely at God’s disposal. No sinner can take a safer course than, while confessing his sins with sorrow, to leave himself to the promptings of God’s heart. That heart never fails, if only the obstruction is removed to the outflow of the Divine loving kindness (Jeremiah 31:18-19 with Jeremiah 31:20). Their confessions are followed up by deeds. “They put away the strange gods,” and so the sincerity of their penitence is crowned (Proverbs 28:13; Hosea 14:8; 1 Samuel 7:2-3; Genesis 35:1-5; Job 34:31-32).
His soul was (vexed) grieved for the misery of Israel.] תּקְצַר was shortened or impatient (Numbers 21:4), like one who is restless or uneasy, and so is moved to take action. “My bowels are troubled for him” (Hosea 11:8-9; Isaiah 40:2).
Judges 10:17. Gathered together.] Assembled by public proclamation (ch. Judges 4:13; Judges 7:23). The purpose is stated in next chapter. Encamped in Gilead.] Here it refers to the whole territory possessed by Israel on the east side of Jordan, but sometimes it refers only to that part which was occupied by the half tribe of Manasseh. The children of Israel assembled.] No longer deserted by their God, they are animated with fresh courage (Psalms 60:11-12; Psalms 118:8-12; Psalms 18:29-34). In Mizpeh.] Mizpeh (masc.) is said to be the town; Mizpah (fem.), the district (Joshua 11:3; Joshua 11:8), Other references are made to it as Ramoth-mizpeh, or simply Ramoth in Gilead (Joshua 13:26; Joshua 20:8; 1 Chronicles 6:80, see also 1 Kings 4:13; 1 Kings 22:3; 1 Kings 22:6. It was a convenient centre for rendezvous, and a place of great natural strength. With the article it means the watch-tower, or heap of witness (Genesis 31:48-49).
Judges 10:18. And the people and princes, etc.] Rather, and the people, even the princes of Gilead, i.e., the heads of tribes and families on the east side of Jordan. The name captain is used in ch. Judges 11:6; Judges 11:11, where it means the chief leader.
HOMILETIC REMARKS.—Judges 10:1-18
1. These come undeserved. On the principle, that there is “no peace to the wicked,” we might expect, in the ordinary exercise of justice, that troubles would never cease in a community where sin was daily committed. The existence of sin is always a cause of war with God, and, as it is manifest, that in every generation of Israel, the great majority of the people were idolaters in heart, the natural expectation was, that there would be no modifying of the severity of the Divine dealings with them at any period of their history. Yet, in fact, mild and pacific dealings did come in frequently, and so must be set down as the undeserved loving kindness of the Ruler of Providence.
How erroneous are the data, on which men form their judgments of God’s ways of dealing with them. They forget that they are ever provoking God to anger, by living every day for their own pleasure, and refusing to acknowledge His claims on their obedience, or even recognising His presence in their midst. They habitually banish him from their very thoughts, and yet murmur if He should send them trouble in any degree. They take for granted that immunity from trouble is their due; whereas “it is of the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.” Were justice alone the rule of dealing, we could look for no respite. Quiet times, when they come, are entirely undeserved (Ezra 9:13; Ezra 9:15).
2. They come only after a vindication of the Divine Righteousness. In the frightful tragedy which came like a sweeping torrent on the great transgressors at Shechem, when a hurried and awful death overtook Abimelech and the inhabitants of Shechem, not a single man excepted, the whole nation were aroused from their slumbers to read the lesson of God’s anger against the idolaters. Every man seemed to hear the voice for himself, “Stand in awe and sin not.” It was God vindicating His own character as the righteous Moral Governor of the world. This being done in the sight of all Israel, it was fit that a pause should take place in the further sending of troubles on the land.
3. Quiet times fill the large spaces of human history. Even in this Book of Judges, which many think describes a tempestuous period of Israelitish history, the calamitous times are the exception, while those of peace and quiet are the rule. Israel’s first oppression was for eight years. This was followed by a rest of 40 years, or five times as long. The next period of distress lasted 18 years, and then the land had respite for 80 years. Then came trouble for 20 years, and rest for 40 years. Again we read of seven years’ oppression, and this followed by 40 years of quiet. Once more, we have the cataract of bloodshed and sin for three years, and now a pause, and dead stillness for 45 years.
So it is in human life generally, notwithstanding men’s high-handed provocations. Times of immunity from trial form by far the larger portions of our life. Our days of good health greatly outnumber the days of sickness. Our times of peace and comfort, are greatly longer than the periods of severe pain and great calamity. Our seasons of sunshine also are long, compared with those when our sky is overcast. Our hopes, as a rule, by many degrees exceed our fears. Cases also are numerous where, if we be true Christians, when our troubles abound, our consolations do much more abound. Generally, the expression of friendly feeling greets our ears more frequently than those of anger and disaffection. All things go to show that the largest spaces in human life partake of the character of quiet and goodwill, notwithstanding the provocations we give to the Ruler of Providence.
4. Quiet times are greatly needed.
(1). To preserve the benign attitude of God in dealing with guilty men.
To keep up this attitude is essential, for without this view of the Divine character, men would never be brought back to God. “We love Him because He loves us.” A free and full revelation of the loving nature of God, is necessary to remove the prejudice which is natural to the human heart against God, that He is hard and inexorable, ever disposed to say, “Pay me that thou owest to the uttermost farthing.” Happy is the man who gets entirely free of that prejudice.
By often sending seasons of quiet when He might justly appoint times of great distress, God shows that he will not be always frowning, as if, like weak man, He could not remain self-controlled in the face of so many provocations. But as He must show Himself jealous for His own great name, there are junctures when he comes forth to vindicate His honour. He reserves special occasions, called emphatically “the day of the Lord,” when “He lays judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plumbline,” and so vindicates His own Majesty on the one hand, while He visits sin as it deserves on the other. On these special occasions, He shows what he might do at any time, though for the most part he forbears. Thus the times of forbearance, or of quiet, are many compared with the times of smiting: “His tender mercies are over all His works.”
“He will not chido continually,
Nor keep His anger still;
With us He dealt not as we sinned,
Nor did requite our ill.”
(2.) To allow time to recover from the effects of great agitation. After the violent spasm to which the country was subjected by Abimelech, it required a period of calm to recover from the shock and the confusion. Each oppression of the land through the in-rush of Vandalic hordes produced a disastrous effect. The country was desolated, the homes of Israel were broken up, the bonds of society were loosed, the administration of justice ceased, and the whole nation was “scattered and peeled” (ch. Judges 5:6; Judges 5:8.) Quiet times were needed to set the nation on its feet again, to give heart to its people, and bring back days of prosperity and of hope. The operations of industry must be resumed, fields must be sown and reaped, the useful arts of life must be prosecuted, channels for trade must be opened up, and laws for the security of life and property must be established. God never wished to “make a full end” of His chosen people, and, though they were often brought very low for their sins, and made to feel how easy it would have been to dash them to the ground beyond all possibility of rising again, He ever remembered that they were the people on whom He had set His love, out of whom should arise the promised “seed” that was one day to bless the whole earth, and so they were restored.
(3) To carry on all the useful activities of life. If a nation is to live, there must be scope for its activity. Freedom of action must be allowed to the mass of its people to carry out their schemes and fulfil their duties. And it is in the unfettered, healthful working out of the innumerable small schemes and duties of life that the temporal wellbeing of a nation mainly consists. The great deeds of its heroes are things to dazzle the eye, and perhaps enkindle hope, inspire courage, and excite to lofty aspiration. But it is far less on these, that the true prosperity of a people depends, than on the industry and energy of the myriads of hands that are ever plying the loom in the common machinery of human life.
“Niagara excites our wonder, and we stand amazed at the power and greatness of God as He ‘pours it from the hollow of His hand.’ But one Niagara is enough for a continent and a world, while that same world needs tens of thousands of silver fountains and gently flowing rivulets, that shall water every farm, every meadow, and every garden, and shall flow on every day and night with their gentle and quiet beauty. So with the acts of our lives. It is not by great deeds only, like those of Howard, nor by great sufferings only, like those of the martyrs, that good is to be done. It is by the quiet and useful virtues of the Christian character, the meek forbearance of the Christian temper, the spirit of forgiveness in the husband, the wife, the father, the mother, the brother, the sister, the friend, and the neighbour in every avenue in which men move, that society is to be improved and its bonds strengthened.”—[Barnes.]
(4) For purposes of consideration and profitable meditation. Calm thought is always needed to weigh things in even scales. Amid the hurry and excitement of strong passing events the mind cannot estimate the strength of the forces at work around it, and is disturbed in its judgments, like the trembling of the needle in a rolling ship. Quiet hours are needed to consider the “why” and the “wherefore” of God’s dealings. Proper meditation on what has happened is apt to lead to self-humiliation and amendment of ways. It prompts men to say, “Let us search and try our ways, and turn to the Lord.” The broken and contrite spirit is cherished (Lamentations 3:28-36), arguments are weighed, motives and aims are examined, and new resolutions in the strength of God’s grace are formed. Deeper attention is paid to the roots of character, new seeds of profitable thought are deposited in the mind, and a more careful, more mature, and better-weighed decision is come to, not to continue the war any longer with God, but to yield up everything at the expression of His will.
THE SILENCES OF HISTORY
Here are two judges mentioned by name, as having occupied the posts of most public observation in the whole nation, and in charge of its public welfare for the long period of close on half a century, and yet not a single deed is noticed that either of them did. Their family circle is referred to, and their high social position, but as regards the share they took in the public events of their time there is a perfect blank in the narrative. On this we remark—
1. The silences of Scripture history are sometimes speaking silences. It is so in the case of Melchizedeck. All that is told of him in the narrative is comprised in one short paragraph. We are only told what he did in blessing Abraham, when he returned from the slaughter of the kings; but not a word is said about his father and mother on the one hand, nor about his death on the other. Yet see how much the apostle made of this silence in Hebrews 7:3; also David in Psalms 110:0. There is silence kept, too, in regard to the Rock in the wilderness as to its being a foreshadowing of Christ in being a Smitten Rock, and water issuing from it sufficient to preserve the life of God’s people to the end of their wilderness journey, with other particulars. But we should hardly have ventured to say that that Rock was Christ had not the inspired writer told us so (1 Corinthians 10:4). It is the same with many other objects in Old Testament history. And the absence of any statement that any one of them was a type of Christ has the significance of saying, that the whole framework of that history was made up in such a way as to foreshadow Christ.
Here there is a speaking silence, when two men follow each other as chief magistrates of the nation, at a most difficult juncture of affairs, when public morality was low, when the public administration of justice was all but paralysed, when the tide of ungodliness swept over the land, and nothing was so likely to happen as a series of the most tragic occurrences, and yet there is nothing to say! This fact speaks volumes for the practical wisdom, the tact and prudence, and the comprehensive “understanding of the times on the part of these men to know what Israel ought to do.” An uneventful age means a period of peace and contentment. Hence the adage, “Happy is the nation that hath no history.”
2. These silences are numerous. Over the history of the whole world before the Flood the veil of silence is spread. Only a few fragmentary utterances are given respecting the lives of thousands, nay, millions of actors for more than sixteen centuries! And the history of the whole heathen world is left out, except some black edgings of history, which are so bad that we scarcely can desire to have had more! But even among good men the silences are many, as in the case of Enoch, and Abel, and Seth; of Adam himself, also, after his fall; of the parents of Moses, and Jesse, the father of David; of Caleb, and Jethro, and Obadiah, and Jabez, with many more, all of whom are dismissed with a comparatively brief notice, and yet they are names of which we might well desire to hear more. Indeed, the persons selected for a moderately full notice on the page of Scripture history are very few.
3. They often occur in tenderness. This is specially the case, in the infrequent notices taken of the sins of God’s people. A few cases of aggravated offences are mentioned, but what multitudes are passed over in silence! David, by his own account, had so many transgressions to confess before his God that he felt them to be more in number than the hairs on his head (Psalms 40:12). And of men generally, he says, “Who can understand his errors?” But with the sins which might exist with David before his God men had not to do, and God does not speak of them in the ears of men. It is of those that were a scandal before the world and the Church that open notice is taken in the Book of God. How many sins are “covered” (Psalms 32:1); “removed far away” (Psalms 103:12); “blotted out as a thick cloud” (Isaiah 44:22); “passed by” (Micah 7:19); “remembered no more!” (Hebrews 8:12).
4. They illustrate the sovereignty of God in giving to each one his place in history.
Some have a prominent station given them, while to others an obscure or unconspicuous post is assigned. Some receive notice only as “hewers of wood and drawers of water,” while others stand forth in the foreground like Joshua, and are made to perform deeds which require a whole Book to preserve a record of them. Gideon’s life occupies three long chapters; Zola and Jair together only five verses. Ehud’s one deed fills a whole page, while Shamgar’s feat is dismissed in a single verse. The story of Deborah and Barak runs on for fully two chapters, while Ibzan, Ebon, and Abdon all three scarcely occupy a moderate paragraph.
There are reasons for this:—
(1.) God has a plan of Providential dealing with His Church, and He selects instruments that are suitable to that plan. Hence one is taken and another is left.
(2.) He has a right to make use of His own creatures as it pleases Him. They are at His absolute disposal, but men forget what that means. It means they are at the disposal of One whose character is the reverse of that of man, He is One who is so just, that He cannot act unjustly by any of His creatures, so kind, that He cannot act by them unkindly, so wise that He cannot fall into any error in His dealings. No creature can be safer than to leave himself entirely in the hands of his God, doing His will.
(3.) In His sovereign disposal of men’s lot, He always acts from wise and just reasons.
(4). None have a right to claim a prominent position at His hands.
(5.) Grace always appears with sovereignty in God’s dealings with men in this world. We owe that to the essential character of God, whose “grace never faileth.”
NEW SINS AND NEW SORROWS
[See Remarks on ch. Judges 3:12; Judges 4:1, etc.; Judges 6:1, etc.]
1. The human heart when left to itself is capable of going the whole round of sin. Here are seven different gods bowed to, and had there been other seven, or even seventy times seven, it would have made no difference in the result. Well might Jehovah say, “My people are bent to backsliding from Me.”
2. There is no possibility of serving Jehovah and other gods at the same time. Beginning with an attempt at the combination, they soon gave up even the semblance of worshipping Jehovah (Ezekiel 20:39).
3. There is a fascination in worshipping false gods. The bias of the heart to that worship must have been strong, when such solemn arguments were used all along against it, but in vain. What was the magnetic force that drew them on?
(1) There was a charm in mere scenic representations. Visibility was given to one’s religion, and the senses were exercised rather than the mind. There was music and dancing, and even frivolity mixed up with their religion.
(2) In idolatry they had the power of making gods to their own minds, and they ascribed to them only such features of character as they wished them to possess.
(3) These gods permitted indulgence in all the evil propensities of the depraved heart—those “lusts and passions that war against the soul” (Numbers 25:0).
(4) The principle of imitation is strong. All other nations so worshipped. They did not like to be singular. These nations, too, were prosperous and rich.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Judges 10". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20