Verses 1-26: After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel are unsure of who will lead them. The Lord declares that the children of Judah will go against the Canaanites. Judah enlists the help of Simeon to defeat the Canaanites and the Perizzites. A just but unusual punishment was meted out to Adoni-Bezek from God through the actions of the tribes. Judah also took Jerusalem at this time.
In an effort to expel the Canaanites, etc., Judah was wise to enlist the help of a friend in Simeon. We too can benefit from the help of our Christian brothers and sisters, and ought to seek and offer this help when we realize the need is there:
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” Romans 12:10-13
Next there is a recounting of the story of Caleb giving his daughter in marriage for the conquest of Kirjath Sepher. We read of this originally in Joshua 15.
Judah continues to try to rid the land of the indigenous people, but is not entirely successful. Based on the previous theme that strength of faith supports the totality of conquest, it is safe to assume that their faith was lacking. We know that the Israelites had defeated armies with iron chariots previously and their failure in this chapter can be attributed to a lack of confidence in God’s ability to overcome such disadvantages.
Verses 27-36: The deficiency of faith and conquest continues as numerous tribes fail to totally drive out all of the Canaanites. The Israelites put many of them under tribute, taking taxes from them and trying to benefit from the relationship instead of driving them out of the land as God commanded. They did not totally follow God’s commandment and instead thought for themselves. As we will see later, this independent thinking will come back to haunt them. The influence of these pagan peoples will prove too much to resist in the future.
Does this mode of the Israelites’ thinking sound familiar? How often do I think for myself instead of relying on God’s pure and clear Word? Only He knows what is best for me. Only the Lord has the answers. Take heart from this example of the Israelites’ failure, for “. . . the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” Jeremiah 10:23
So we should then be about our father’s business. Jesus knew this as a child when He asked His parents why they did not know where to find him: “And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”” Luke 2:49
So should we.