Verses 1-4 – By this time, an entire new generation had grown up that had not been in any great battles. The Bible says the Lord left nations that were not conquered in the land to test Israel in obedience and faith in the One True God. Are there obstacles in your life that test your faith or obedience? Sometimes this testing involves continuous people. How we handle these people or situations will truly show us what’s on the inside of us. The choices we make and the reactions we have should always reflect whom we are and who’s we are.
Verses 5-7 – The Israelites started intermarrying and this affected their relationship with God. They didn’t realize that having these pagan gods so close would cause them great consequences. By allowing these pagan gods into their homes, they began to accept these immoral practices. They began adding these idols to their worship of God. Sometimes people of today do the same thing. Example: We want to befriend others who don’t know God, but through those relationships, we become entangled in unhealthy practices. These friendships are important in order to be an example of the Christian life, but not to the point where it changes the Christians behavior for the bad. There can’t be any compromise in areas of immoral behavior.
Verse 7 – Baal was the most worshiped god of the Canaanites. Most often, cast in the form of a bull symbolizing strength and fertility. Asherah was Baal’s female consort, mother goddess of the sea who was worshipped by means of wooden pillars that substituted for sacred trees. Today’s idols can be substitutes of activities, hobbies, or priorities forsaking worshiping God. Where or with what is most of your time spent?
Verse 8 – The Israelites continued in this behavior until the Lord allowed them to be sold to Cushan-Rishathaim King of Mesopotamia; and the children of Israel served the king eight years.
Verse 9 – When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, He heard them. Othniel had a rich spiritual heritage. His father was Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. Othniel was Israel’s first judge of Israel. Othniel’s leadership brought the people back to God and freed them from the oppression of the King of Aram, Naharaim.
Verse 10 – This phrase “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him,” was also spoken of the judges Gideon, Jephthah and Samson, among others. It expresses a temporary and spontaneous increase of physical, spiritual, or mental strength. This was an extraordinary and supernatural occurrence to prepare a person for a special task.
Verse 11 – All is well again with Israel for forty years until Othniel dies.
Verses 12, 13 – The Moabites, Ammonites, and Amalekites were nomadic tribes. These tribes were notorious raiders, possessing great military skill. This was the first time nations outside of Canaan attacked the Israelites in their own land.
Verse 14 – Here again a new generation in the time of the 40-year peace, grew further and further from their loyalty of the One True God. So, the children of Israel now served Eglon, King of Moab eighteen years.
Verses 15-30 – Ehud is called a deliverer. This is a strange story, but it teaches us that God can use us just the way He made us. Being left-handed in Ehud’s day was considered a handicap. Many of the Benjaminites were left-handed (see 20:16).
Verse 31 – The Judge Shamgar, the son of Anath, killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he delivered Israel. An ox goad is an eight-foot stick with a small flat piece of iron on one side and a sharp point on the other.