“They would not listen to their judges... ” - Judges 2:17
God heard Israel’s cries of distress and often raised up judges to lead and save the people from their enemies. Through Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, and others, God gave the land rest for forty and even eighty years at a time (3:30; 5:31; 8:28). But after each of those saviors died, God’s people eagerly cozied up to a way of life that had brought nothing but misery before. Only a fool does the same thing again and again and expects different results (Proverbs 26:11).
We might think Israel’s addiction to its base desires could have been solved by better leadership. But the judges generally served well. The shepherds God sent to lead his people were not the problem; the sheep were the problem. Leave them alone for a few minutes, and they go their own way or distress themselves with greenery they shouldn’t eat.
God’s people, the sheep of an eternally patient Shepherd, need to be saved from themselves. And that demands a leadership that can get rid of the enemy forever, while also changing the way of disobedient sheep. Later, even though the great King David saved Israel from the Philistines, he and his royal descendants could not rescue God’s people from doing “what was right in their own eyes.”
As Christians, we know we are tempted to drink from the same old wells of misery again and again. But we also have hope, for Jesus Christ has delivered us from death and our self-inflicted misery.