The nations left to prove Israel. (1-7) Othniel delivers
Israel. (8-11) Ehud delivers Israel from Eglon. (12-30) Shamgar
delivers and judges Israel. (31)
As the Israelites were a type of the church on earth, they
were not to be idle and slothful. The Lord was pleased to try
them by the remains of the devoted nations they spared.
Temptations and trials detect the wickedness of the hearts of
sinners; and strengthen he graces of believers in their daily
conflict with Satan, sin, and this evil world. They must live in
this world, but they are not of it, and are forbidden to conform
to it. This marks the difference between the followers of Christ
and mere professors. The friendship of the world is more fatal
than its enmity; the latter can only kill the body, but the
former murders many precious souls.
The first judge was Othniel: even in Joshua's time Othniel
began to be famous. Soon after Israel's settlement in Canaan
their purity began to be corrupted, and their peace disturbed.
But affliction makes those cry to God who before would scarcely
speak to him. God returned in mercy to them for their
deliverance. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Othniel. The
Spirit of wisdom and courage to qualify him for the service, and
the Spirit of power to excite him to it. He first judged Israel,
reproved and reformed them, and then went to war. Let sin at
home be conquered, that worst of enemies, then enemies abroad
will be more easily dealt with. Thus let Christ be our Judge and
Lawgiver, then he will save us.
When Israel sins again, God raises up a new oppressor.
The Israelites did ill, and the Moabites did worse; yet because
God punishes the sins of his own people in this world, Israel is
weakened, and Moab strengthened against them. If lesser troubles
do not do the work, God will send greater. When Israel prays
again, God raises up Ehud. As a judge, or minister of Divine
justice, Ehud put to death Eglon, the king of Moab, and thus
executed the judgments of God upon him as an enemy to God and
Israel. But the law of being subject to principalities and
powers in all things lawful, is the rule of our conduct. No such
commissions are now given; to pretend to them is to blaspheme
God. Notice Ehud's address to Eglon. What message from God but a
message of vengeance can a proud rebel expect? Such a message is
contained in the word of God; his ministers are boldly to
declare it, without fearing the frown, or respecting the persons
of sinners. But, blessed be God, they have to deliver a message
of mercy and of free salvation; the message of vengeance belongs
only to those who neglect the offers of grace. The consequence
of this victory was, that the land had rest eighty years. It was
a great while for the land to rest; yet what is that to the
saints' everlasting rest in the heavenly Canaan.
The side of the country which lay south-west, was infested
by the Philistines. God raised up Shamgar to deliver them;
having neither sword nor spear, he took an ox-goad, the
instrument next at hand. God can make those serviceable to his
glory and to his church's good, whose birth, education, and
employment, are mean and obscure. It is no matter what the
weapon is, if God directs and strengthens the arm. Often he
works by unlikely means, that the excellency of the power may
appear to be of God.