In today’s chapter we meet 3 of Israel’s judges. The first was Othniel who brought Israel out from the oppression by King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram-naharaim (talk about a hard name!). Othniel brought up an army and fought off the king, and brough Israel peace for 40 years. The next judge was Ehud, who fought against King Eglon of Moab. Eglon also had help from the Amalekites and Ammonites. Ehud fashioned a dagger and hid it on his body to assassinate Eglon. After he succeeded, he raised an army of his fellow Benjamites and fought off their enemies while they were still confused from losing their king. Ehud brought peace to Israel for 80 years. The third judge mentioned is Shamgar. Not much is said about him, other than he killed lots of Philistines (600!).
God chose to test His people for two things; He wanted them to know how to fight (3:1) and to see if they would keep His commands (3:4). The first one is the one that surprised me. Why does God want His people to know how to fight? To find this answer I turned to one of my commentaries. The author made the point that God wanted His people to know how to wage war successfully like Joshua. This means that the point was for them to recognize that they needed God in order to succeed. The reason why the conquest of the Promised Land was successful was because Joshua trusted in God to go ahead of them and win the battle. This new generation of people in the Book of Judges has never known this. I’m sure there were many of them that thought the army under Joshua was simply very skilled. The truth is they weren’t. The conquest was the first time this group of people saw battle. But they knew to trust in God for success.
This is still something that we struggle with today. We hear and learn that success is made by how much work we put into something. While this is still true, ultimately it is God that gives us our success. I have seen this play out in the worship ministry that I lead. I can practice as much as I want. I can put together a great set of songs. I can do all the work, but if I am not relying on God all of it can easily fall apart. God is the one we should be counting on. We should be going to Him before we make a decision, not pray to Him afterwards for blessing. He is our guide through life, not simply the giver of blessings. He knows what is right for us, and is there for us as our support. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31b, NLT). God will succeed. We have to trust that He will make the things within His Will successful.
Give your plans to God. Any difficulty you have making a decision for your life or house, should ultimately be God’s to make. Only He knows what He wants for us. We have to be willing to submit to Him. Without Him we will fail. We need God to succeed.
Also in this series
Psalms to Pray: Psalm 42-43