Saturday, March 24. Judges 21

Might the book of Judges be a “set up” for the books of Samuel and Kings?

We have to remember that the book was not written at the time the Judges lived, but years later.  We know this to be true because there are at least six specific references in the book to a long passage of time since the stories being related (cf. 1:21,26; 6:24; 10:4; 18:12).  We have seen the persistent and adverse affect the people of Canaan had on Israel, simply because Israel wanted to be like the people around her rather than be the blessed people of God.

Is the book just a diatribe against buying into worldly culture, or is there something else involved?

I wonder this because when we come to the end of Judges, there are four specific references to the lack of a King (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25).  It’s almost as if the writer is saying Israel’s troubles could all be solved if she had a king.

Some Bible scholars read this as a campaign for a monarchy.

Perhaps.

But if it is, the following books of Samuel and Kings point out that a monarchy is not the answer.  Israel doesn’t do any better – even with righteous leadership.  And that leads me to believe that Judges is a “set up.”  “Sure,” the reader will say to himself, “Israel needs someone to enforce God’s law.  A king is what is needed.”  But it doesn’t work.  Thus Judges becomes a part of a much larger story magnified in the book of Kings.

We’d do well to remember this lesson.  You can enforce God’s will with laws, but you cannot make a people godly with laws.  Change must begin within.  Christian people who devote large portions of their energies bemoaning the sad state of the world’s ethics and campaigning for laws that will make people at least behave christianly (yes, I know I made that word up) are barking up the wrong tree.  We need to be walking in the way of Jesus ourselves and inviting others to join us in a transformation that begins not with law, but with the heart.