Dave Burnette's Commentary

Judges Chapter 1

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel 
Date Penned: (550 BC)
Overview: A Record of Israel's Compromise in the Promised Land (c 1-21)
Theme: The Military Failure of Israel (c 1-3)
Message: Incomplete Conquest of the Land (v 1-36)

Judges 1 Commentary

(1:1) An Unfinished Task - The people of Israel had finally entered and taken control of the land promised to their ancestors (Genesis 12:7; Exodus 3:16-17). The book of Judges continues the story of the conquest that began in the book of Joshua. Through God's strength, the Israelites had conquered many enemies and overcome many difficulties, but their work was not yet finished. They had effectively met many political and military challenges, but facing spiritual challenges was even more difficult. The unholy but attractive Canaanite way of life proved even more dangerous than their military might. The Israelites gave in to the temptations and compromised their faith. If we attempt to meet life's challenges in our own strength, we will find the pressures and temptations to blend into our culture too great to resist.

(1:2) A Need to Focus on the Lord - Soon after Joshua died, the Israelites began to lose ground on conquering the land. Although Joshua had been a great commander, the people missed his spiritual leadership even more than his military skill, for he had kept the people focused on God and his purposes. Joshua had been the obvious successor to Moses, but there was no obvious successor to Joshua. During this crisis of leadership, the Israelites had to learn that no matter how powerful and wise the current leader was, their real leader was God. We often pin our hopes on some influential leader, failing to realize that in reality it is God who is in command. Acknowledge God as your true ruler, and don't rely too heavily on human leaders, even if they seem to have spiritual wisdom.


(1:3) A Need to Seek the Lord - Everyone wants guidance in making tough decisions. The Israelites were no different. To ask God to guide their new nation, the elders probably gathered at the tabernacle in Shiloh, as they had done when the land was divided among the tribes (Joshua 18). There they may have used the Urim and Thummim to seek God's answers. These were two stones or plates made according to God's instructions and used to seek his guidance in making difficult decisions that involved the entire nation. They were used to take away human influence and allow God to make the choice.


(1:4) A Difficult Enemy - The Canaanites were all the people groups who lived in Canaan (the Promised Land). They lived in city-states where each city had its own government, army, and laws. One reason Canaan was so difficult to conquer was that each city had to be defeated individually. There was no single king who could surrender the entire country into the hands of the Israelites. Canaan's greatest threat to Israel was not its army but its religion. Canaanite religion idealized evil traits: cruelty in war, sexual immorality, selfish greed, and materialism. Obviously, the religions of Israel and Canaan could not coexist.


(1:2-20) The Lord Delivered Victory - The book of Joshua tells of a swift and thorough conquest of enemy armies and cities, while the book of Judges portrays a more lengthy and gradual conquest. When the Israelites first entered the Promised Land (Joshua 1-12), they united as one army to crush the inhabitants until their enemies were too weak to retaliate. Then, after the land was divided among the 12 tribes (Joshua 13-24), each tribe was responsible for driving out the remaining enemies from their own territories. The book of Judges tells of their failure to do this and why. Some tribes were more successful than others. Under Joshua, they were strong together, but soon most were sidetracked by fear, weariness, lack of discipline, or the pursuit of their own interests. The people also began to worship the gods of the Canaanites. As a result, their faith began to fade away, and "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6). In order for our faith to survive, it must be practiced day by day and reach into every aspect of our lives. Beware of starting strong and then getting sidetracked from your real purpose-loving God and living for him.


(1:5) A Need to Work Together - The people of Judah asked the people of Simeon to join with them in clearing the land for both tribes. They collaborated to make the work easier for everyone and to keep each other encouraged. They were the only two tribes west of the Jordan River to voluntarily work together in this way. True collaboration between organizations is rare. In life and ministry, we should keep our eyes open for opportunities to work together that make sense.


(1:6-7)  A Half Hearted Effort - The maiming of Adoni-bezek was one example in a long string of actions that demonstrated Israel's half hearted and partial obedience to God's instructions. Enemy kings were supposed to be executed, not humiliated. This defeated king clearly recognized God's righteous punishment, but God's own people did not recognize the importance of obeying God's commands precisely. When we understand what God tells us to do, we put ourselves in great danger if we stop short of fully carrying it out.


(1:8) A Failed Conquest - Although the Israelites conquered Jerusalem, they did not occupy the city until the days of David, hundreds of years later (2 Samuel 5:6-10).


(1:12-15) A Record of Caleb's Faithfulness - This same event is recorded in Joshua 15:16-19. Caleb was one of the original spies who scouted out the Promised Land (Numbers 13-14), and he and Joshua had encouraged the people to conquer it. For his faithfulness, he was given the portion of land of his choice.


(1:19) A Payment for Sin - Why did God order the Israelites to drive the Canaanites from their land? Although the command seems cruel to our ears, the Israelites were under God's order to execute judgment on these wicked people. The other nations were to be judged for their sin as God had judged the Israelites by forcing them to wander for 40 years before they were allowed to enter the Promised Land. About 700 years earlier, God had suggested to Abraham that when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the gross evil of the native people would be ready for judgment (Genesis 15:16). But God didn't excuse the Israelites; eventually they, too, would be severely punished for becoming as evil as the people they had been ordered to drive out (2 Kings 17; 25; Jeremiah 6:18-19; Ezekiel 8). God is not partial; all people are eligible for his gracious forgiveness as well as for his firm justice.


(1:20) Israel's Fighting Strategy - Canaanite chariots pulled by horses were among the most sophisticated weapons of the day. Israelite foot soldiers were absolutely powerless when a speeding iron chariot bore down upon them. This is why Israel preferred to fight in the hills, where chariots couldn't venture.


(1:21-36) A Failure to Completely Obey - Tribe after tribe failed to drive the evil Canaanites from their land. Why didn't they follow through and completely obey God's commands? There could be a few reasons: (1) They had been fighting for a long time and were tired. Although the goal was in sight, they lacked the discipline and energy to reach it. (2) They were afraid the enemy was too strong--the iron weapons and chariots seemed invincible. (3) After Joshua's death, power and authority were decentralized to the tribal leaders, and the tribes were no longer unified in purpose. (4) Spiritual decay had infected them from within. They thought they could handle the temptation and be more prosperous by making treaties and doing business with the Canaanites. (5) They did not seek God as often and prayed for direction before battles as they had done under Joshua. We, too, often choose to tolerate sin rather than drive it from our lives. We may know what to do but just not follow through. This results in a gradual deterioration of one's relationship with God. In our battles, we may grow tired and want to rest, but we need more than a break from our work. We need to know that God loves us and has given us a purpose. Victory comes from living according to his purpose and being willing to fully obey him.



Dave Burnette's Life Application

"Little Sins"


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we Start the book of Judges with Chapter 1 and we see the Military Failure of Israel and the Incomplete conquest of the land as Israel fails to drive out the enemy. Many application can be made from the text but what catches my eye is failure to drive out the enemy from the promise land. In applying it today in our lives we see the need to drive sin out of our lives. If we allow "little" sins to abide in our lives it will come back to defeat us just as it did the nation of Israel. What we need to embrace is that all sin is bad for us. The smallest white lie nailed Jesus to Cross and we must drive it out of our lives. "Little Sins" remind me of rip tides in the ocean. You are told not to swim in them but when you do - before you know it they will take you out to sea. How about you? What is your view on "little sins"? Let us learn from our text today and drive out all sin from our lives.


Judges 1 

Judges 1

 1Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?

 2And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.

 3And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.

 4And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men.

 5And they found Adonibezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

 6But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.

 7And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.

 8Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire.

 9And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley.

 10And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba:) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.

 11And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher:

 12And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.

 13And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.

 14And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou?

 15And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.

 16And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people.

 17And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.

 18Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.

 19And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

 20And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.

 21And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.

 22And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the LORD was with them.

 23And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.)

 24And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy.

 25And when he shewed them the entrance into the city, they smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all his family.

 26And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto this day.

 27Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.

 28And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.

 29Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.

 30Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries.

 31Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob:

 32But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.

 33Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Bethshemesh and of Bethanath became tributaries unto them.

 34And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:

 35But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries.

 36And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward.