Two Prevalent Themes in Judges
One prevalent theme in the Book of Judges is the idea that people who disobey God’s commandments will be punished by Him. However, the idea that God is also willing to forgive sinners, who choose to repent, is another prevalent theme. Therefore, the prevailing themes in Judges illustrate God’s stern, authoritarian but also compassionate and forgiving nature. In the second chapter of Judges, the death of Joshua led to the growth of younger generations, who did not know and acknowledge the important role of God in their lives. As a result, they lived in sin and worshipped Baal. “And there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and Served Baalim” (Judges 2:10-11 King James Version).
The actions of the Israelites angered God. He punished them ceasing His defense of the Israelite children and sold them to their enemies. Despite the sins of the Israelites, God summoned judges to deliver the Israelites from their enemies. The children of Israel should have learned from God’s punishment, but after being delivered, they went back to their old ways. The Israelites “corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them” (Judges 2:19 King James Version). However, whenever the Israelites were heavily punished by God, they would cry out for help and seek repentance. God displayed compassion and kindness by heeding the Israelites’ cries and calling judges to help the children of Israel despite their repeated failings to follow God’s commandments.
The story in the Book of Judges illustrates God’s nature, as well as a widely held teaching from the Bible that what we sow is what we shall reap. God rigorously punished the Israelites, who heavily sinned against Him. If people seek forgiveness, God will absolve His children.
The Rule of Saul vs. The Rule of David
Saul and David represent two different kinds of leaders. One is ruthless and inept, while the other is reasonable and kind (Morris, 2006). Saul was anointed as the first king of Israel with the blessing of Samuel. In the beginning, Saul followed Samuel’s example, serving the people guided by the will and commands of God. Saul aimed to serve God by serving the people justly. Thus, Saul and his people were rewarded with a prosperous nation. However, Saul eventually became a greedy and corrupt leader. He separated himself from God and chose to rule according to his own evil will. “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him” (1 Samuel 16:14 King James Version). Moreover, Saul refused to forgive transgressions despite the willingness of God to forgive him. Saul did not desire to give people second chances but instead bestowed upon them grave and extreme punishments. Aside from Saul’s heavy hand in exacting punishments to those who disobeyed his commands, his actions and decisions did not illustrate the ideal traits of a good leader. Saul was fearful than courageous, and he would rather lie to other people, even to Samuel who helped him become king of the Israelites, than take responsibility for his wrongful actions.
David, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of Saul. Like Saul, David followed the commandments of God. However, unlike Saul, David maintained his relationship with God all throughout. David refused to become a corrupt leader, choosing to do the right thing always and in accordance to the will of the Lord (Wiersbe, 2004). Furthermore, David acknowledged God as his king, which meant that as a leader of the Israelites, he made sure that his people abided by God’s word. David said, “And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee” (2 Samuel 7:26 King James Version).