Dave Burnette's Commentary

Judges Chapter 3

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 Rescue of Israel by the Judges (c 3-16)
Message: Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar (v 1-31)

Judges 3 Commentary

(3:1-4) Israel Faces Obstacles - We learned from Judges 1 that these enemy nations were still in the land because the Israelites had failed to obey God and drive them out. Now God would allow the enemies to remain in order to "prove" the Israelites- that is, to give them an opportunity to exercise faith and obedience. By this time, the younger generation that had not fought in the great battles of conquest was coming of age. Their job was to complete the conquest of the land. They had many obstacles yet to overcome in their new homeland. How they would handle these obstacles would be a test of their faith. Perhaps God has left obstacles in your life, hostile people, difficult situations, baffling problems- to allow you to develop faith and obedience. (See Romans 5:3-5 and 1 Peter 1:6-7 for more on how trials develop character.)

(3:5-7) A Compromise toward Idolatry - The Israelites discovered that relationships affect faith. The way of life of the men and women of the surrounding nations was attractive to the Israelites. Soon they intermarried with the Canaanites, and the Israelites accepted their pagan gods. This was clearly prohibited by God (Exodus 34:15-17; Deuteronomy,7:1-4). By bringing these gods into their homes, the Israelites gradually began to accept the sinful practices associated with them. Most Israelites didn't start out determined to be idolaters; they just added idols to the worship of God. But before long, they found themselves absorbed in pagan worship. A similar danger faces us when we look at how cultural influences shape us today. The Israelites were heavily influenced to turn from God through their relationship with the Canaanites. Today, we are especially vulnerable to the influence of our ungodly culture through our relationship with media and technology. Although our phones and computers connect us to one another in helpful ways, they can also be unhealthily addicting and open us up to ungodly behaviors before we realize it. This doesn't mean we should avoid using new technologies, but we need to be discerning about when and where and how much we use them. It is important for believers to engage the broader culture, but we must take note of who is influencing whom. We should be friendly without compromising or adopting ungodly patterns of behavior.

(3:7) A Worship of Baal - Baalim is the plural term for Baal. Baal was the most worshiped god of the Canaanites. Most often cast in the form of a bull, he symbolized strength and fertility and was considered the god of agriculture. The "groves" refer to poles or pillars set up to worship Asherah. Asherah was Baal's female consort, mother goddess of the sea, who was worshiped by means of wooden pillars that substituted for sacred trees. In times of famine, the Canaanites believed Baal was angry with them and was withholding rain as punishment. Archaeologists have uncovered many Baal idols in Israel. It is difficult to imagine the people of Israel trading worship of the Lord for worship of idols of wood, stone, and iron, but we do the same when we forsake worshiping God for other desires, hobbies, or priorities. Our idols are not necessarily made of wood or stone (though sometimes they are made of metal, glass, and microchips), but they are every bit as powerful in leading us away from God.

(3:8-11) The First Judge - Othniel was Israel's first judge. In 1:13, we read that he volunteered to lead an attack against a fortified city. Here, he was to lead the nation back to God. Othniel had a strong example of faithfulness--his uncle was Caleb, a man with unwavering trust in God Numbers 13:30; 14:24). Othniel's leadership brought the people back to God and freed them from the oppression of the king of Mesopotamia. But after Othniel's death, the Israelites soon fell back into their neighbors' comfortable but sinful ways.

(3:10) A Supernatural Occurrence - The phrase "the spirit of the LORD came upon him" was also spoken of by the judges Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, and others. It is used to express a temporary and spontaneous increase of physical, spiritual, or mental strength. This was an extraordinary and supernatural occurrence, preparing a person for a special task. The Holy Spirit is available to all believers today, but he also equips believers in an extraordinary way for special tasks. We should ask for the Holy Spirit's help as we face our daily problems as well as life's major challenges (see Romans 8:26-28).

(3:2-14) Nomadic Tribes Attack Israel - The Moabites, Ammonites, and Amalekites were nomadic tribes that lived near each other east and southeast of Canaan. These tribes were notorious raiders, possessing great military skill. This was the first time nations outside Canaan attacked the Israelites in their own land.

(3:15-30) Left Handed Warriors. This unusual story demonstrates how God can use us just the way he made us. Being left handed in Ehud's day was considered an exceptional ability. Many men of the tribe of Benjamin were left-handed (see 20:16) making them highly specialized troops, able to use a sling or bow with tactics designed to repel right-handed warriors. Eglon's bodyguard never checked Israel's messengers for left handed weapons. But God used Ehud's overlooked ability to give Israel victory. Let God use your unique gifts and abilities to accomplish his work.

(3:31) 600 Philistines Defeated - To kill 600 Philistines with an ox goad was quite a feat. An ox goad was a long stick with a small, flat piece of iron on one side and a sharp point on the other. The sharp side was used to drive the oxen during the times of plowing, and the flat end was used to clean the mud off the plow. Ox goads are still used in the Middle East to drive oxen, and archaeologists have found eight-foot-long ox goads from ancient times. In times of crisis these tools could easily have been used as spears, as in Shamgar's case.



Dave Burnette's Life Application

Learning from History


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 Continue in the book of Judges with Chapter 3 and we see the rescue of Israel by the Judges over the next 13 chapters. Each with a series of cycles: sinning, worshiping idols, being punished, crying out from help, being rescued by a judge sent from God, obeying God for a while, then starting the cycle over again. In making application we see the pattern of history repeating itself. Man has not changed and if we are wise we learn from this pattern and guard our hearts from falling into its cycle. It reminds me of times in my life where I have fought a reoccurring sin. I would fall into this pattern of temptation - sin - conviction - repentance. My problem is that I did not learn from my own history. I had to make changes in friends, environment, and attitude toward the sin as I depended on the Lord to give me a way of escape when the temptation revisited me. How about you? Do you have a reoccurring sin? Let us learn from today's text and learn from the history of our failures. 


Judges 3

Judges 3

 1Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan;

 2Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;

 3Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath.

 4And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.

 5And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:

 6And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.

 7And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.

 8Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years.

 9And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother.

 10And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.

 11And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

 12And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.

 13And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.

 14So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.

 15But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.

 16But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.

 17And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man.

 18And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.

 19But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.

 20And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.

 21And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:

 22And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.

 23Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.

 24When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber.

 25And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth.

 26And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath.

 27And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.

 28And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.

 29And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.

 30So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.

 31And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.