Judges: Day 3

The Lord Tests Israel

by

Today's Text: Judges 3:1-31, Psalm 91:1-16

Scripture reading: Judges 3:1-31, Psalm 91:1-16

Just over a hundred years ago, a funny belief began to crop up among Western Christians. In Europe especially, Christians had enjoyed a long season of prosperity and peace, which began to shape their theology. They concluded that humans were evolving, outgrowing the bad habits of violence, war, and sin. Humans, they reasoned, were essentially good, and getting better with every generation.

What these Christians developed was a weak view of sin and an idealistic view of human nature, and it remained popular for a while. It shaped Christians’ faith and the way they read Scripture, but it didn’t last very long. In 1914, the world was plunged into World War I, which shattered all of those illusions. As it turned out, humans were not evolving out of sin. In fact, we were no different than any generation before us. If anything, humans were only “advancing” in our technology for fighting each other.

This bit of Church history is good to keep in mind while reading the book of Judges, because it demonstrates a principle we will see again and again. Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann once wrote, “Prosperity breeds amnesia,” and there is perhaps no better description of what happened to Christians a century ago, and what happened to the Israelites in Judges. Every time the Israelites prospered, they didn’t simply forget God; they forgot what it means to be human in the world. They forgot their own sin. They forgot the world’s brokenness. And they forgot how desperately they needed God. So they lived as if they didn’t.  

We should never be too quick to explain the stories of violence and suffering in Judges. Neat and tidy answers almost always do a disservice to these difficult passages. That said, it is safe to say that the cycle of foreign invasions had an eye-opening effect on the Israelites, in the same way that World War I shattered the rose-colored glasses of idealistic Christians. When God tested “all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars” (Judges 3:1), you can’t help but wonder if this was another way of saying, “In the absence of war, the Israelites had forgotten. They had forgotten their weakness. They had forgotten their vulnerability. They had forgotten that they needed God.”

It was true then and it is still true today: prosperity breeds amnesia. In times of comfort, we do not simply forget God, but we also forget the seriousness of sin, the brokenness of this world, and why we so desperately need a Savior to mend it. That said, this kind of forgetting is one that most people in the world are never afforded. In regions of famine and civil war, it’s impossible to ignore that this world is not as it should be. But for those of us living in relative comfort, who rarely bump up against the jagged edges of this fractured planet, we can forget just how devastating the effects of sin have been.

That is one lesson we can take from Judges. It challenges us not only to remember God, but to remember our brokenness and the brokenness of the world. When we downplay sin, we downplay grace, and we downplay our dependency on it. So as ugly and horrible as suffering can be, and as much as it grieves God most of all, through it we can detect the still, small voice of the Spirit whispering to us: “This is why you need a Savior. This is why I came.”

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Sharon Hodde Miller is a writer, speaker, pastor’s wife, mom, and she holds a PhD on women and calling. She blogs at SheWorships.com, and is the author of Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not about You.

  • This was so good!! Thank you!

  • Brianna Foshie

    Amen this is exactly what I needed to read today.

  • Chloe Monz

    I relate to this so much, I was living a life without God, comfortable and care free. Until a bus carrying a hockey team from my home town was struck by a semi four months ago, 16 on the bus died including a long time family friend. In an instant it became clear how intensely I needed God, and how wrong I had been for pushing Him away. The jagged edges of humanity were unignorable. The beautiful part of this tragedy was that many people reconnected with their faith, including myself.

    • She Reads Truth

      Chloe, we are so sorry to hear this. Praying over you and your community today in the midst of this tragedy. We are so grateful to have you as a part of this community. -Margot, The SRT Team

    • Meg

      Praying with you fellow Canadian sister! I’m from Toronto, where we recently had our own senseless tragedy, on the heels of another this past April. May God bring comfort and peace where we need it most ❤️

      • Chloe Monz

        Thank you Meg. I think of and pray for your community often. These tragedies are so dark but I’ve been reminded so many times that God’s love is so much deeper. I pray the people effected find this truth too.

    • Melanie

      This event was so heartbreaking, especially in your community, and in Canada as a whole. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend, but exceedingly grateful to our God who takes the most painful, ugly, and broken situations in our lives and uses them for our good and his glory. Love to you and Humboldt ❤

  • Frances Marie

    This is exactly where I am today. Every single day has been so convicting – spot on. Touché, Jesus – touché. ❤️

  • Wow this is so relevant with even today and what’s going on just in America. I sometimes feel like a lot of our society today has forgotten the war our ancestors fought for our freedom in this country and in so many areas the need for God has been forgotten.
    This truly is a great reminder of the brokenness of the world and making it a daily goal to never stop telling others about Gods goodness and grace.

  • “For those of us living in relative comfort, who rarely bump up against the jagged edges of this fractured planet, we can forget just how devastating the effects of sin have been.” Once we have experienced true brokenness in our lives, it’s hard to ever forget, but I think about our kids who are living in comfort and who have never lost someone…I want to tell our family stories of God’s faithfulness so that our kids hear, remember, know. So that our family stories of God’s faithfulness shape their identity. I don’t know exactly how to do this, but I want my sons to know who to cry out to when they do “bump up against the jagged edges of this broken planet.”

  • Donna Miller

    This devotional makes me think of how easily we forget … wars, attacks, recessions … but it reminds me to find joy in the struggle, to rely on God and to be kind to each other

  • Julie Waldvogel

    Lord, May we not forget our sin and brokenness!

  • Jenny Messer

    Wow this was so good. Really enjoyed the devo after the reading. So right on. And so relevant to the scriptures. Not just a story told, but guiding us readers in meaning and application of scripture.

  • Kyra Wong

    My grandmother always used to say about World War II, “never forget!”. They thought it was the end. She lived in Ireland at the time. She met my American grandfather this way. Makes me think about Ruth the Moabite. My boys love the gruesome story about fat Elgon. They just can hardly believe it’s in the Bible! Ha! A teacher once shared the story in light of the sword being the word of God piercing the flesh and the guts/dirt coming out. ‘When the word goes in, the dirt comes out.’

  • Chelsea Horton

    “Prosperity brings amnesia” — Such a reminder that we ALWAYS need His mercy and grace

  • Jennifer Martin

    So true!

  • Lynn Johnson

    Prosperity brings amnesia…may I not be lulled into a false sense of security and not reach out to God!

  • Lesa Campbell

    I am new to SRT. I am confused, is everything within the app, or do I need to purchase a study guide online as well? I paid the 1.99 for Judges in the app… is there more in the study guide?
    TIA

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Lesa, we’re so glad that you’re joining us! The Study Book is completely optional, but there are some extra features and helpful study elements throughout that aren’t included on the app and website. Many of our She’s who use the Study Books, also follow along on our app or website to read the daily devotional and community discussion. Hope that helps! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • Gina Glennon

    This was a terrific post and such a reminder that our humanness is not evolving into goodness, but rather that we have just gotten better, more advanced in our evilness. Sadly, it is also true that prosperity often breeds an attitude of self-congratulations and a turn from our God who so graciously gives such blessings. And even worse are so many “Christian churches” who do not proclaim Scripture based truth but rather preach that which appeals to “itching ears”. Oh Lord, please have mercy and change hearts!

  • Maggie Parrish

    This was so incredibly sobering and such a reminder of how much we NEED our Savior. History may not always repeat itself but it often rhymes. Prosperity certainly breeds amnesia.

  • I enjoyed reading today’s devotional it hit home. Oh, how many times I have strayed only to come back after a major or minor incident that I need help with in my life; after I try to first take care of it and make a shambles of it then and only then do I take it to the Lord. I find myself wondering why didn’t give it to the Lord to begin with.
    I would like to ask you my sisters in Christ to pray for my son and future daughter-in-law as they take on the care of her father in their house. He has newly diagnosed cancer – a mass blocking the bile ducts. My son and his fiance have put having their own family on hold to care for her father.

  • Sisters, prayers are appreciated today. I have to talk to someone today. Please pray for strength and I will have the right words and that I will also be receptive and listen and hear what God has to say to me.

  • I pray I never forget where I was and where I am today. God has brought me through a lot! All the glory to HIM. May I never forget it with MY GOD who brought me to where I am today.

  • Debbera Vail

    So powerful, BUT GOD! Thank God for He never lets us go. He reminds us who we are and whose we are. The true miracle in this cycle is that He is never more than a hearts cry away in any circumstance. What a thought and amazing grace. Blessing to all his children today!

  • Jessie Chatigny

    I really appreciate the pairing scripture and the devotional. These stories in Judges are so gnarly yet it’s true that we are no less violent that we had been. Where am I disobedient, Lord? In which areas have I forgotten your sovereignty? I want to pull out these weeds of idolatry before I have to disembowel them, full grown.

  • What stood out to me was the pattern: the Israelites did evil, they forgot God, bad things happened to them, they then cried out to God and every. single. time. He raised up a deliverer. Every time he heard their cries. Every time he sent them rescue. If only I can remember to cry out every time, in prosperity and in hurt, to be in a constant cry to Him. He will send rescue.

  • Kate Wells

    So powerful! I am humbled and grateful for these words. The truth cuts thru like a knife, and today’s reading is some hard hitting truth.
    I need you Lord,
    More than yesterday,
    I need to more,
    More than words can say.

  • After reading this I am going to challenge myself to pray, “God, show me my sin” each day. A fuller understanding of my sin gives me a fuller understanding of God’s grace and a bigger view of the cross in my life. I challenge everyone else doing this plan to pray this prayer while we read this book!

    • Pattie Zylka

      Amen!

    • Cathy Tubby

      Yes! Thanks for the challenge. Scary, uncomfortable, but just what I feel I’ve been being nudged toward. Thanks for stating it concisely.

  • Tori Fuller

    It is so important to know that no matter what we go through that God is always with us. And yes I have to agree that “prosperity does being amnesia” . We are quick to forget about God when things are on the rise for us, but as soon as a warfare breaks out, we are just like the Israelites calling on to God for help. For him to rescue us. And unfortunately as much as it hurts God, he takes us through this labor pains to give birth to a miracle. And depending on how big your miracle is will depend on how long hour labor pains are. But key thing is, even during the pain, there is praise! I know right now I am at warfare in my marriage. We have only been married 7 months. On our 7 month Anniversary my husband just up and left me in the middle of the night. No reason. Nothing just gone. Days prior to him leaving my close 38 year old cousin committed suicide because he was depressed about losing his job after 15 + years over something that was not valid. He felt that was the end even with the help of others. Then my brother went to jail and to add it was a week that I was suppose to celebrate my birthday. So let me tell you how this day 3 has ministered to me in more ways than one. God has a way to get your attention for you to call on and cry out to him. After shutting down phone calls, people’s thoughts and truly catching myself in my day with God, oh how the joy and peace that is reigning over me. I trust his word and know that he will restore, resurrect and renew my marriage, my mind and my husbands mind. As bad as it seemed when my husband left, God has allowed me to have a deeper love for my husband despite his flaws. God is giving me a change in my heart, tendering it, allowing me to wake up and long for him. We lived like the Israelites. Things were great in our marriage, we forgot God. We knew he was there, but failed to make point of contact to establish a long lasting relationship with him. When trouble came we never went back to God and just tried to fix it on our own and now God has separated us to show us a few things . One we can’t do anything without him. Two, he is always with us, and three we need him consistently and not just immediately when something is wrong. He also allowed me to recognize my flaws in this marriage but I am praising God for what he is doing. It looks ugly right now cause I wish my husband was home but oh how I thank him for the time apart to get us both in a mental state of his well
    Being. Not sure when my husbands mind is but I’m fighting daily for my Marriage in faith and prayer ! Please keep us lifted and believing God that he will do it for us! I don’t believe it brought us together for 2 years together and 7 months married to throw it away.

    • Alexis

      I am sorry for the trials you are facing Tori, but love seeing the faith that you have and your love for God. I will pray for your marriage, your brother, and you and your family after your cousin’s passing. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable here <3

    • She Reads Truth

      Sorry to hear this Tori. Thanks for sharing with us and we’ll be praying for you during this time for continued encouragement and comfort. So grateful that you’re a part of our community. -Margot, The SRT Team

      • Tori Fuller

        Thank you SRT team for providing this platform for us to share our stories and reflect on the Gospel and to dig deeper into God’s word!! Thank you for the prayers !

    • Brittany Ringo

      Praying for you tori! Your faith is uplifting and God will carry you through this!

      • Tori Fuller

        Thank you Brittany! Yess God is carrying me through and I’m praising him all the way! In his word he said he would never leave me or foresake me!

  • Heather Schablik

    In times of prosperity, do I forget what it means to need God and in turn live like I don’t need him at all? Such a good reminder this morning!

  • Alex Weikel

    It’s crazy how true this is! When life is going great it is so easy to forget my sin and how much God has gotten me through. I pray that I will always remember the truth.

  • Ann Duncan

    “Prosperity breeds amnesia.” Words to remember! I know in my own life that when I become comfortable I lean more on my way of seeing things. Thank you for the reminder this morning to lean on God and that we are living in an “already but not yet” world.

  • Janna Jackson

    Even after we forget God and live our own way, God still loves is and is wooing us back to himself. Such a picture of grace and unconditional love. In the chapter today, they forgot what God had done and tried to do it on their own which never works. In the midst of their sin, God still redeemed them by sending someone to kill the evil king.

  • Lauren Meyer

    We do often “forget” God during our times of jubilation. When I was reading the verses, I kept thinking, “how could Israel do this? How could they forget?” I was reminded that I, too, easily forget. I forget God’s goodness, His grace, His mercy, and His faithfulness. In times of need or trouble, it’s easy for me to remember my Ebenezer stones and find comfort there. But I also need to remember who God is, what He has done, and what He will do during times the good times.

  • Kelly Chataine

    God was present in the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. When Deb, a camp counselor, opened up the Bible and showed me the love and complete work of God through Christ. That is the summer I became a Christian and was baptized soon after. However, God was always present, before, during, and still. It strikes me that we often determine God’s existence through our own experiences. How limited. God is present and working at all times, praise God! I ask that God help me keep that perspective and live in a way that demonstrates God’s existence!

  • Kay Coughlin

    “Prosperity causes amnesia.” This is brilliant! Amen.

  • This devotion has so resonated with me. I like what Churchmouse said, “In times of ease, I coast. In times of difficulties, I’m much more diligent. God wants consistency in my commitment.” This has been a stressful year so far. My husband had major open-heart surgery. (He’s doing great!) My siblings and I are having to make hard, hard decisions about my parents. My daughter, son-in-law, and 4-year-old grandson lived with us this summer while they were looking for a house. My daughter is also pregnant (little girl, due Aug. 21!) It has been a good summer, but it’s been stressful. Reading these words today made me realize that I have just gone through the motions in my commitment to God. I’ve been consistent in my quiet time, but my mind and heart have been distracted and Satan has really used that. My desire this year was to learn to abide, to rest in Him and I’ve definitely not been doing that. I’m not listening. I’m not being still.
    My prayer today is that God will bring me back to a place of abiding and resting; that I will listen and remember. I go back to school today. Students come back next Wednesday.
    Papa God, I pray that You will give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, and peaceable. That I will live for You and not for me. That I will copy Your Words, act through Your Spirit, be transformed into Your likeness, be consecrated wholly to You. To live entirely to Your glory. Kill my envy, command my tongue, trample down self…deliver me from anything that takes me away from You. Use me and lead me along uncommon paths. Amen.
    Be blessed today, sisters.

  • Churchmouse

    I was never a fan of pop quizzes when I was in school. I much preferred knowing the date of the test and having time to study and prepare. I would be diligent to hit the books a few daysahead of time. But pop quizzes? I was often unprepared because, quite frankly, I was not studying but coasting from one scheduled test to the next. Pop quizzes caught me unprepared although I had been warned they could ‘pop’ up at any time. I was foolish not to prepare daily, to read the material and put it to memory. I see this same foolishness exhibited in my walk with God . I am not unlike the Israelites in the time of the Judges. In times of ease, I coast. In times of difficulty, I’m far more diligent. What God desires is consistency in my commitment. My inconsistency certainly brings its own inevitable consequences – again, not unlike the Israelites in the time of the Judges. There is indeed nothing new under the sun. BUT GOD in His great faithfulness and love continues to woo me. He doesn’t consider me a lost cause. He doesn’t give up on me. He has His heart set on me. So I call out to Him once again. I ask Him to forgive me. I open His Word for therein lies the answers to every test that comes. I strap on the armor of God. I am prepared. Who knows what battle may pop up today? Lord, help me. Find me faithful.

    • ROBIN J DAUGHERTY

      Thank you for sharing your wisdom! I look forward to your posts each day!

      • Gina Glennon

        Yes, I too look forward to her posts. Churchmouse has great insight. A gift from our Lord. Thank you for sharing it with us !

    • Tonya Whitehurst

      So true! Thank you for sharing.

    • Michele R

      Thank you for sharing this!

    • Mari V

      Who knows what battle might pop up today? Thank you Churchmouse for that insight. It’s a reminder that I must be prepared.

    • Mdol

      Churchmouse I have read many old plans and often scrolled to find your comments. Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom. And that’s not to cause pressure on your posts. I appreciate your heart.

  • Shamima Nyamekye

    In times of prosperity, we tend to forget all about God just like The Israelites did. The book of Judges is about a cycle of disobedience and the never ending love of God for His people.

  • Susan Crosby

    Like an old record repeating the same line over and over…The people of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord…they forgot their God…God sent judgement upon them…then they cried out and God delivered them…and then they repeated the same behavior…a reminder that as believers we do the very same thing…we do our very best to somehow justify our sins and forget how God has instructed us to live a holy and blameless life…His word is just as true today as in the times of Judges…Our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus…No condemnation just consequences…so thankful for His Grace.

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