At the conclusion of Joshua, the author celebrates the fact that:
Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel.
However, the first few chapters of Judges paint a bleak picture. Israel does not remain faithful; in fact, they descend further and further away from the LORD. A cycle of distress, rescue, temporary faithfulness and then corruption drives the narrative.
One of the purposes of the book of Judges is to serve as a bridge between Joshua and Samuel – between conquest and kingdom. The author will often allude to the days “when there was no king in Israel” – noting that this is written during the era of the Israelite kingdom, which will emerge in the book of Samuel.
In chapter 2, the camera pulls the LORD into foreground. The issue at the core of Judges is expressed by the angel of the LORD in chapter 2: “I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done?”
What indeed! Whenever they marched out, the hand of the Lord was against them for harm, as the Lord had warned, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress.
Remember that the primary character of the Bible is the LORD. If a judgment is made, it’s going to be from the LORD’s perspective. Listen to how Israel’s wanderings are described and to how the LORD responds to them. See if you can detect a pattern of when He delivers them from harm, or allows them to suffer in it.
Our verse for this week is Psalm 138:8: The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Judges chapters 1 and 2. Now let’s read it!
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.