Judges 3:1
These are the nations the LORD left to test all the Israelites who had not known any of the wars in Canaan,
Sermons
Use What You HaveCharles Wesley NaylorJudges 3:1
The Proving of IsraelA.F. Muir Judges 3:1-4
It was God's Will, ThenL. H. Wiseman, M.A.Judges 3:1-5
Tests and ChastisementJ. P. Millar.Judges 3:1-5
The Trial and Chastisement of an Unfaithful PeopleJ. P. Millar.Judges 3:1-5
The general lesson of the Book of Judges is here repeated. There is shown to have been a Divine providence prevailing through and above the defections of Israel. God uses the consequences of their neglect as a means of grace. The nations that had not been rooted out became in turn their tempters and their tyrants; and thus they outlive their minority, and are prepared for the great place they have to take in the history of the kingdom of God.

I. IT WAS A RESULT OF PARENTAL NEGLECT. The fathers had left much of their task undone. A determined attitude on their part, and vigorous measures, would have rid the land of the nuisance. One generation may do much good or evil to its successors. We never reap all the results of our own misdoing; a great portion is left for the children of after generations. The neglect of the laws of health, of the canons of a moral life, of educational institutions, social and political progress, may entail grievous disadvantage upon those who come after us; as much that comes in this way, comes in this way alone, and cannot be produced suddenly. And so it is with the growth of theological truth, and the habits and usages of the spiritual life.

II. BUT THE CHILDREN TOO WERE TO BLAME. The oracle of God at Shiloh could have been consulted still. God's will could easily have been ascertained. Thorough and absolute trust in Jehovah, and devotion to his service, would have rid them of their enemies. They were therefore the children of their fathers in this also, viz., that they were not wholly given to God's service and the desire after righteousness. How much of human guilt consists in mere letting alone, or in supinely submitting to evils as if they were inevitable or incurable!

III. IT WAS AN INSTANCE OF EVIL DIVINELY UTILISED. A probation. To call forth the courage and faith of the new generation. To prevent them accepting the situation as a final one, or calmly submitting to and acquiescing in the wicked customs and idolatries of their neighbours. Some natures find the way of transgression harder than others. They are finer, more susceptible, have more deeply-set longings after goodness. They feel the inherent contradictions of evil more acutely; its penalties press more heavily upon them. This is not an injustice on the part of their Maker; it is a mark of his goodness and mercy. He would have them fenced in by the sanctions of righteousness; driven back into his fold. He has meant them for a better life. So it was with his elect people then. They and their heathen neighbours were upon a different footing. It was the destiny of Israel not to be let alone. A later experience in order to the comprehension of an earlier experience. One of the most valuable uses of experience - to throw light backward. It reveals the true value of an inheritance, and renders precious things more precious. Otherwise the younger Israelites who entered into the conquests of the first warriors would not have known the severity of their toils, or the mighty hand of God which wrought their deliverance. There are some lessons every man must learn for himself. A true appreciation of God's saving grace is a personal and, for the most part, an incommunicable thing. "To teach them war, i.e. to inure them to it as a necessary discipline, and as the preliminary work that had to be done ere the kingdom of God could be brought in; and, as above, to show them how much spiritual privileges cost, and how difficult and yet how honourable it was to defend and secure them. Still it was -

IV. AN INSTANCE OF A PROVISIONAL ALLOWANCE OF COMPARATIVE IMMORALITY. The world was not ripe for the morality of Jesus. The self-contradiction of a continual state of warfare was to be their schoolmaster to bring them to Christ. The state of peace is not of itself more moral than that of war. It is "the things that make for peace," the spirit of brotherhood and Christian charity, that are the aim of the righteous mind. The world must first be righteous ere it can be peaceful. - M.







The nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them.
I. IT WAS GOD'S OWN THOUGHT TO PUT THEM TO THE PROOF.

1. Far otherwise were the thoughts of the nations.

(1)When Israel was strong their thoughts were of alliances.

(2)When Israel became weak their thoughts were of conquest and revenge.

2. The nations could do nothing without God's permission.

3. This proving of character was done out of respect to His covenant.

(1)God acted by principle and not by temporary impulse.

(2)He acted according to His established manner of dealing with His people's sins.

(3)Provision made for this through the intervention of the coming Messiah, the real Mediator of the covenant.

4. God puts His people under discipline to serve wise and holy ends.

(1)Nor real injury is ever intended.

(2)Never is the rod without some gracious instruction: "Hear ye the rod, and Him who appointeth it."

5. God Himself determines the time, manner, and severity of the trial.

II. IT WAS NECESSARY TO PUT ISRAEL TO THE PROOF.

1. Their allegiance to their God must be ascertained.

(1)God's jealousy required it.

(2)Without allegiance the people were not in a fit state to receive Divine blessings.

(3)Ways and means were easy where there was allegiance.

2. Human protestations of obedience are little to be trusted.

III. THIS TESTING OF CHARACTER WAS MADE IN LOVE, NOT IN ANGER.

1. All God's dealings with His covenant people are necessarily in love. This is the very spirit of His covenant: "Your God" — "God is for you" — always on your side.

2. It was love to prevent a breach of the covenant.

3. It was love to teach the heart the bitterness of sin.

4. It is love to teach self-knowledge and humility.

5. It is love where a false character exists to have the discovery of it made known in good time.

IV. OBEDIENCE IS WITH GOD THE ALL-IMPORTANT REQUIREMENT.

1. Obedience is the index which shows that the heart is right with God.

2. Obedience springs naturally from the fear and the love of God.

3. In the gospel obedience must spring from love.

4. Obedience in the gospel is the obedience of children.

5. Obedience must be shown in the face of opposition.

(J. P. Millar.)

I. THE WORK TO BE DONE.

1. Chastisement as well as trial.

2. A special mark is put on the reason for this course of dealing (chap. Judges 2:20-23).

II. GOD'S CHOICE OF INSTRUMENTS.

1. God designates His own agency to do His work.

2. God selects His instruments from the camp of His enemies equally with His friends.

3. A sinning people often supply the means of their own correction.

4. God can turn the most unlikely persons into fit instruments for doing His work.

III. THE TENDENCY OF THE COVENANT PEOPLE TO APOSTATISE FROM THEIR GOD.

1. It is what might have been least expected.

2. The root-cause lies in the depravity of the human heart.

3. Remissness of parental training one of the immediate causes.

IV. EACH NEW GENERATION REQUIRES IN SOME DEGREE TO BE TAUGHT BY AN EXPERIENCE OF ITS OWN.

1. The strange incapacity of the human heart for receiving Divine lessons.

2. Personal experience is the most effective method of teaching.

(1)A more vivid impression is made.

(2)Personal interests are more deeply touched.

3. Each generation must have a character of its own, and answer for itself.

(J. P. Millar.)

To teach them war
it was a necessity for the Israelites that they should "learn war." In their case "learning war" meant learning that God alone could fight for them. Do not the Canaanites of unbelief, heresy, and worldliness still remain? And is not the evil of their remaining presence overruled for a twofold good — that of teaching His Church how to make war, and of proving their faithfulness toward Himself?

(L. H. Wiseman, M.A.)

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