READING: Judges 19-21
“In those days there was no king in Israel.”
We read the words again in today’s reading; in fact, the book of Judges ends with the same refrain we’ve heard again and again: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him” (Judg. 21:25). It’s the first part of this refrain (found also in Judg. 17:6, 18:1, and 19:1) that grabs my attention today.
Clearly, God wants us to know that His people had no primary leader who directed them back to God. The judges God raised up made a difference, but only for a while. No king would rise up to guide them to follow God’s law, to be unique in a pagan world, to stand against idolatry, and to walk in obedience. The entire book is simply the cycle of disobedience, judgment, deliverance — but behind it all was a people who were continually returning to wrong, seeking to dethrone God as their king. Rather than follow God, they recurrently chose to follow their own ways.
Human beings have not changed. We default not into godliness, but into ungodliness — especially when we have no leaders who continually direct our hearts back to God. In most places of the world, we need not look far to see people who do whatever they see fit. If the story of the book of Judges — and ultimately, our story — ends with human beings doing whatever we wish, though, this story ends in tragedy. We are left longing for a king who will make a difference in a really dark world.
We know, of course, that that king and deliverer is still to come in the biblical narrative: Jesus. The story is not over.
- Decide whether you live (a) more for God or (b) more according to whatever you see is right in your own eyes. Confess anything you need to confess today.
- Thank God for His grace that delivers people who are not worthy of deliverance.
PRAYER: “Lord, forgive me when I do what I think is right in my own eyes. Today, turn my heart to You as my King.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Ruth 1-4