INTRODUCTION TO JUDGES
Judges is a book that begins with the death of Joshua and ends with the coronation of Saul and the beginning of the monarchy. The Hebrew word sopet (judge, deliverer) meant more than our contemporary meaning of this word. It was a general term for leadership containing executive (including military) and judicial aspects of governing.
The book of Judges recorded Israel's continued disobedience through His appointed leaders leading to an earthly kingship. It records their disobedience and worship of the Canaanite gods that prevented them from experiencing God's blessing and complete conquest of the land. It covers a time span of approximately 350 years ending with the coronation of Saul in 1050 B.C.
BACKGROUND FOR JUDGES 1
Joshua 1 begins with "after the death of Joshua." There were still Canaanites left to expel in the land, and Judah was selected to expel them. This follows with the blessing in Genesis 49:8. Judah was the preeminent tribe and the tribe through whom Jesus would come. Judah selected Simeon (both children of Leah) and they captured Jerusalem and the cities south by God's hand.
With many conquests there were also many 'half victories" in that Israel did not take full possession of some areas and put the people into forced labor. Thus, "the Canaanites persisted in living in that land" (Judges 1:27). These were the seeds of Israel's undoing. Stay tuned.
REFLECTION (written in 2008)
I absolutely hate them! I have such a lovely yard, but weeds keep on popping up everywhere. I sat in my hammock in the backyard yesterday, and I noticed that if my dear husband does not stay on top of them and pull them out at the root, they overtake the yard. Right now, he is just too busy to deal with them. So, they flourish. (I suppose I could pull them, but I always end up with a pulled out back when I do that, but I digress).
Israel did not pull out the weeds of Canaanite worship at the roots according to God's command. You see this in Joshua 1:19, 21, and 27-33:
19: Now the Lord was with Judah, and they took possession of the hill country; but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had iron chariots.
21: But the sons of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem; so the Jebusites have lived with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.
27: But Manasseh did not take possession of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; so the Canaanites persisted in living in that land.
28: It came about when Israel became strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely.
29: Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who were living in Gezer; so the Canaanites lived in Gezer among them.
30: Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, or the inhabitants of Nahalol; so the Canaanites lived among them and became subject to forced labor.
31: Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, or of Achzib, or of Helbah, or of Aphik, or of Rehob.
32: So the Asherites lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out.
33: Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, or the inhabitants of Beth-anath, but lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; and the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath became forced labor for them.
(New American Standard Bible:1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995)Living among weeds blocks the loveliness of the yard. In a garden, they can ruin the crop. This is what happened to Israel's "garden." The purity and beauty of worship of the one true God would be marred by the weeds of worship to the false gods of the Canaanites.
Where are your weeds? Are you nipping them at the root as they crop up in the garden of your life, or are you letting them flourish through laziness or neglect, or are you just too busy to deal with them? They could be the weeds of pride, laziness, bitterness, addiction, negativity, wrong thought patterns, idolatry, etc.
Weeds do not disappear on their own. They also do not go away by doing a surface chop. You have to deal with them at their root. Sometimes that requires backbreaking effort on your knees.
So . . .
You'll be glad you did. :)
One great place to start pulling is with Beth Moore's book Praying God's Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds.
Here is a "weed pulling prayer" from the "Quiet Walk e-devotional" from http://www.walkthru.org/:
Because we can be delivered from bondage to sin, offer your praise for the Lord's goodness:
O Lord, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions . . .
May my meditation be sweet to Him;
I will be glad in the Lord (Psalm 104:24, 34).
Pray this confession to the Lord as you seek to keep your life free from sin:
He is despised and rejected by men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. . . .All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:3, 6).
Confess any sins that the Holy Spirit brings to your mind. Now pause to pray this affirmation to the Lord:
Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).
As you make your requests known to the Lord, pray for: greater faithfulness with your time,whatever else is on your heart. Offer this closing prayer to the Lord:
The Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!