Enemy Is Left as a Test - Page 2 of 2 - (series: Lessons on Judges)
by John Lowe
The spiritual theme at this point is obvious: the victory given by God must be maintained by its recipients. The pattern of Joshua-Judges serves as an excellent illustration of the conflicts of the Christian life. In Christ we have been guaranteed total victorious possession of “the land.” The inheritance of our salvation is assured; however, we must maintain our personal relationship to God by continually driving out our “enemies.” Therefore, separated and dedicated Christian living is necessary to maintain the victory which has been assured to us.
1 (Isa. 66.4) “I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” God makes it clear that He no longer delights in the abominations of Israel’s empty ritual and animal sacrifice. Merely going through the outward form of ritual religion is nothing more than a series of delusions (ta˓alūl, vexations). Instead of answering the call of God to personal repentance and faith, they chose … evil.
2 Chastening. The word chastening means “child training” and refers to the process God uses to mature us and make us more like Jesus Christ. He tests us to bring out the best in us, but Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us. If we persist in disobeying God, He will discipline us to bring us to submission. This is an act of love, a Father maturing a child and not a Judge punishing a criminal—“My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Prov. 3:11–12). All men sin and bring dishonor upon the Lord. Those who enjoy His great blessing will at times experience His chastening, for Yahweh corrects every son whom He receives (Heb 12:5–13). These times of chastening are a sign of both His displeasure and love. When He sends difficulties into the lives of His children, He is not to be regarded as a vindictive despot, but rather as a loving father who diligently corrects His children. Neither be weary of his correction. Man is born in sin and practices the art of sinning arduously before he meets the God of grace. Thus, the Lord’s hand of correction is often found upon us shepherding us away from sin. We must not weary of this hand upon us or despise its gentle and persistent presence, a presence that is always grounded in His faithfulness (I Cor 10:13). A humble submission is an essential addition to our growth in spiritual truth (I Pet 5:6).
3 (Deut 7.4) “For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
4 (Deut. 7.1-11) “When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; 2And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: 3Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. 5But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. 6For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. 7The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 10And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. 11Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.
1 Now 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;
We found out earlier that the Israelites had intermarried with the Canaanites, the Hittitites, the Amoritites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. They married into all the tribes, even though God had strictly forbidden it.
The nations that were left as a trial for Israel are listed in verse 3: five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mt. Lebanon.
We are told here what remained of the old inhabitants of Canaan. There were some of them that kept together in united bodies: The five lords of the Philistines, namely, Ashdod, Gaza, Askelon, Gath, and Ekron 5(1 Sam. 6:17 ). Three of these cities had been partly reduced by earlier battles; “Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof” (Jg. 1:18). But it seems the Philistines (probably with the help of the other two, which strengthened their confederacy with each other) recovered the possession of them. These cities gave the greatest trouble to Israel of any of the natives, especially in the latter times of the judges, and they were never quite reduced until David’s time. There was a particular nation called Canaanites, that kept their ground, along with the Sidonians, upon the coast of the great sea. And in the north the Hivites held much of Mount Lebanon which was a remote corner, in which perhaps they were supported by some of the neighboring states.
Those who were left to be proved were those Israelites that had not seen all the wars of Canaan.
2 Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;
3 Namely, 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.
4 And 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.
That…Israel might know, to teach them war. This was another reason why the Canaanites were left in the land; that the Israelites might not forget military discipline, but familiarize themselves with the use of arms, that they might always be able to defend themselves against their foes. Had they been faithful to God, they would have had no need of learning the art of war; but now arms became a sort of necessary substitute for that spiritual strength which had departed from them. Thus God in his judgment leaves one wicked nation to harass and torment another. Were all to turn to God, men need learn war no more.
The five lords of the Passover and other tribes mentioned in this passage were enemies of the Israelites. As we proceed through the Old Testament, these enemies will appear time and time again. They were indeed a thorn in the flesh of the nation Israel.
To know whether they would hearken. This would be the consequence of the Canaanites being left among them: if they should be faithful to God, their enemies would not be able to enslave them; should they be rebellious, the Lord would abandon them to their foes.
NOW THE FIRST CYCLE BEGINS: SIN (VV. 5–7); SERVITUDE (V. 8); SUPPLICATION (V. 9A); SALVATION (VV. 9B–11).
5 (1 Sam. 6.17) “And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;”