Every time the Israelites engage in idolatry, they are delivered into the hands of their enemies. After the people repent and pray to God, He sends a judge to rescue them. This cycle repeats itself time and again. For example, the Israelites begin worshiping the idols Baal and Ashtoreth. Cushan-Rishathaim, king of Aram Naharaim, oppresses them and God then sends Othniel, son of Kenaz, to save them. Following this victory, there is peace in the land for forty years.
Eglon, king of Moab, is the next to oppress the children of Israel. They are saved by Ehud, son of Gera, from the tribe of Benjamin. The Israelites send him with a tribute to Eglon. He secures a small sword to his right thigh and conceals it. His weapon is not found when the guards inspect him. Ehud convinces the king to talk to him privately. Once they are alone, he slays Eglon and sneaks out unnoticed. He then sounds a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim. The Israelites come to his aid and vanquish the Moabites. The following judge is Shamgar, son of Anath, who smites the Philistines and saves the Israelites. After Joshua’s death, the Israelites’ commitment and faith gradually dwindles. They no longer have a charismatic leader to rally behind, and they ultimately forget God. Whenever they are oppressed, God sends judges to reinforce their faith and save them.
“five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites” (Judges 3:3)
“Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia” (Judges 3:8)
“which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel” (Judges 3:31)
Loyalty requires self-respect and the humility necessary to put others above ourselves.