Due to the degradation among the priests after the Israelites entered into the promised land, God raised up judges to rule His people. The first three judges—Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar—must have ruled well, for the Bible records very little about them (Judg. 3). When we come to Gideon, however, the peculiar stories begin. Gideon began well. He responded to the Lord’s call and led his small band of Israelites against the immense army of Midian as the Lord commanded. He gained a great victory for Israel. After this, however, he made a golden ephod and set it up in his city. All Israel came to worship it, playing the harlot after an idol (Judg. 6–8).
The most famous of the judges is Samson (Judg. 13–16). Everyone admires him for his single-handed victories over the Philistines, but eventually he was tricked by a woman and fell captive to the Philistines. In his final victory, he pulled down their temple so that “the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life” (Judg. 16:30). When we read his final prayer, however, we realize that his heart was not set on God’s interest but on personal revenge. He should have confessed what a poor judge he had been and asked the Lord to raise up someone who could do better.
Tomorrow: “‘Lord, Reveal Your Heart to Me!'”