1. Sermon suggestions

Introduction to a Sermon on Judges 3:7–11

Judges 3:7–11 (ESV)

7 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth.

The method of learning a card game is pretty well universal. The first step is to have the main points of the game explained to you. And then you go ahead and actually play a first round. It’s the trial run, to get a handle on how the game goes. And often, that first round is played with an open hand, to help the beginner can understand. You don’t toss in any unexpected twists or turns, you don’t overwhelm the beginner with all sorts of details, but you just show the basics as a sample.1

The author of Judges is doing something quite like this in 3:7–11. The text provides a sort of barebones outline, so as not to confuse or overwhelm us at the start. Othniel barely does anything.

Which is the whole point. Here, at the beginning of the account of all the judges, the author wants to show us how it could be. The judges really did not have to do much of anything. All they had to do was trust and obey the Lord, and he would deliver, as he does here. Othniel was the ideal judge, the judge who actually did his job of trusting and obeying. In no other cycle is the Lord’s involvement so explicitly stated at every stage. And, for that matter, in no other cycle will the glory of the Lord be so evident, for in every following cycle, there is at least something that distracts the reader from fully appreciating that all the glory belongs to the Lord.2