Skip to main content

There Was No King in Israel: Why Study the Book of Judges?

It was the best of times and the worst of times. The children of Israel, liberated from Egyptian bondage and dwelling in the land of promise, should have been enjoying the blessings of God, living under their own vines and fig trees. Instead, they faced cycles of backsliding, carnality, followed by repressive foreign occupation.

When they woke up to their sin, Israel called out to God, who sent them a human deliverer called a ‘judge.’ Once the judge delivered the nation from their oppressors, Israel remained faithful to the LORD as long as the judge lived. Once he or she passed away, then they returned to their old worldly ways.

This pattern, which occurred with nauseating regularity, is the story of the Book of Judges. This book covers a period of over 350 years from the time of Joshua the conqueror until the coming of Samuel, the final judge (who is first mentioned in I Samuel, not Judges).

There are some great stories of deliverance in it, like that of Deborah and Barak, Gideon, Samson, and Jephthah. Some of these judges are so noteworthy that they merit a mention in the ‘hall of faith’ in Hebrews Chapter 11. Yet there are some real scandals, like the Danites stealing Micah’s idols and priest and setting up the northern city of Dan on a foundation of idolatry. Years later, Jeroboam’s golden calf was installed here, the altar platform is still present until today. Even worse was the brutal rape and murder of the Levite’s concubine which led to civil war and the near annihilation of the tribe of Benjamin.

Great insights and lessons await you as you study the Book of Judges.

Hebrew Name

It is easy to confuse the heroes of this book with men and women, wearing long black robes and white whigs while pounding a gavel in a courtroom. The Hebrew name for judges is shophetim which translated means rulers, saviours, and deliverers. The judge can settle disputes, win battles, liberate and deliver people. After their military victory, they settle down to to civilian leadership, where they rule and judge.


Anonymous, though tradition nominates Samuel as the author.


Probably after Saul became king. The reason is that the Book of Judges uses the phrase ‘There was no king in Israel,’ implying that Israel had a king at the time of writing.


Cycles of reprobation and revival. The pattern was one of:

The Descent

Service (of God),
Servitude (to foreign occupiers) - this is where they hit rock bottom

The Ascent

Seeking God,
Sanctification, and

This pattern is what happened again and again and again.

Portrait of Christ in Judges

In Judges we learn about Christ as Saviour-Ruler. As long as the judge lived, Israel served the LORD. Since Christ rose from the dead and lives forevermore, His people will remain eternally faithful to God.

Like the rest of the Bible, Judges does not do a whitewash of the main characters. It tells their story just as it was, warts and all: Gideon made an ephod in Oprah, Samson had ‘women problems,’ and Jephthah uttered a rash vow. Yet all of this helps to highlight to glory of Christ, who never sinned and is able to save us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

Judges serves as a reminder, if one was needed, how humanity stands in desperate need for a Saviour.

Key Verses in Judges

Judges 2:20-21: And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; 21 I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died:

Judges 21:25: In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.


Judges is a real object lesson of ‘comparison and contrast.’ We see good and evil, light and darkness, faithfulness and debauchery, living side-by-side. While this may seem like deep dark ancient history, it helps illustrate the ‘last days,’ which Scripture teaches is a time of ‘contrasts,’ just like Judges.

   Contrast: God’s faithfulness to Israel’s backsliding.

   Contrast: A penitent Israel to a hedonistic Israel.

   Contrast: The faith of the judges to the faithlessness of the people.

   Contrast: The perfection of Christ to the flaws of the judges.

Outline of Judges

1.       Failure of Israel to Conquer all the Land (1:1-3:34): Failure of Judah, Benjamin, Joseph, Zebulon, Asher, Naphtali, Dan. Angel makes announcement.
2.       Southern Campaign: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar (3:5-31)
3.       Northern Campaign: Deborah/Barak (4:1-5:31)
4.       Central Campaign: Gideon, Abimelech, Tola, Jair (6:1-10:5)
5.       Eastern Campaign: Jephthah (10:6-12:7)
6.       Second Northern Campaign: (12:8-15)
7.       Western Campaign: Samson (13-16)
8.       Israel’s Idolatry (17:1-18:31)
9.       Israel’s Immorality (19:1-30)
10.   Israel’s Civil War (20:1-21:25)


Popular posts from this blog

A Prophecy for the Church in Malaysia

Malaysia is a very special country - beloved by its citizens and friends worldwide. Malaysia offers a warm welcome, ‘truly Asian’ hospitality, popular spicy food, tropical weather and scenery, and a dynamic local church. The following is a prophecy for the Malaysian church given on May 20, 2017 at Full Gospel Assembly, Kuala Lumpur, (following the introduction).
Introduction to Malaysia (Statistics courtesy of the CIA World Fact Book)
Location: Malaysia is on a peninsula in SE Asia. Singapore is to the south, Thailand to the north, and Indonesia is very close by. Two Malaysian states, Sabah and Sarawak, are located on the island of Borneo to the east of peninsular Malaysia. Borneo is shared by three nations: Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia.
Population of Malaysia: 30,949,962;
Ethnic groups: Malay 50%; Chinese 23%; Indigenous 12%; Indian 7%; non-citizens 8%.
Religious Affiliation: Islam 61%; Buddhism 20%; Christian 9%; Hindu 6%
Type of Government: Federal constitutional monarchy with the kin…

NORTH KOREA: What Is At Stake?

It is not unusual for North Korea to be in the news. This highly-armed Stalinist state rattles the sabres from time to time. There are warnings, sanctions, negotiations, and then things go quiet.
Yet the current crisis is different - and more dangerous - than anything we have seen before. It has been said, with reason, that the stand-off with North Korea is the biggest confrontation since US President John F. Kennedy faced off Nikita Krushchev of the Soviet Union in the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis. This was probably the largest and most dangerous incident in the entire Cold War.
As a refresher, the Soviet Union placed nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba, which is only 140 kilometres off the US coast. This was simply too close for comfort. President Kennedy solemnly warned that if the missiles were not removed, America would invade Cuba. For 13 days the world held its breath. It was the closest thing we have seen of Armageddon in living memory. Being a rational player, the Soviets ne…


Trump the Christian: Opposition & Prophecy

I believe in God. I am Christian. I think The Bible is certainly, it is THE book. First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica Queens is where I went to church. I’m a Protestant, I’m a Presbyterian. And you know I’ve had a good relationship with the church over the years. I think religion is a wonderful thing. I think my religion is a wonderful religion
These words were uttered by the man who became the 45th President of the United States. Donald J. Trump has affirmed that he is a Christian.
Of course, there are Christians and there are Christians. In the United States, where for decades Christianity has been the ‘civil religion,’ everyone was a Christian. For example, every American President (and there have been 45) has called themselves ‘Christians.’ And, for the last 40 years, every President from Jimmy Carter onwards claimed to be ‘born again,’ too.
It would seem that Donald Trump could be in the first category. Many would think so. ‘Christian…