This is an excellent exposition of Judges, written by the pastor of an English-speaking church in Switzerland. Based on a sermon series, it is readable yet comprehensive; warm in tone, yet forthright in exhortation.
Judges covers an early period in biblical history. It traces the 350 years between the conquest of Canaan under Joshua and the establishment of a monarchy under King Saul. It was a dark period in Israel’s history, with many bouts of apostasy and foreign oppression.
Each of the 30 chapters covers a particular passage from Judges. Introductions usually precede subheadings that are then expounded. For example, a chapter on the Angel of the Lord’s rebuke of the Israelites in Judges 2 uses the subheadings, ‘An astonishing appearance’, ‘A searching sermon’, ‘A repentant response’ and ‘A vital lesson’. This well-structured, homiletic approach is in keeping with the book’s origin as sermon notes.
The exposition is thoroughly evangelical and rich in application. Reverence for the sacred truth and enduring pertinence of all Scripture comes across on every page. All kinds of episodes from the chaotic period of the Judges are shown to serve as lessons for today’s believers or signposts to the Saviour.
For example, we read that the third judge, Shamgar, killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad (Judges 3:31). Mr Hill shows how this reminds us that God uses slender means against overwhelming odds to accomplish his purposes. He exhorts us to be like Shamgar, trusting the ‘slender means’ of simple gospel witnessing to defeat unbelief, or the ‘slender means’ of our talents to support our local church.
Judges is known for its moments of sudden violence. Ehud stabs obese King Eglon so that his sword disappears (Judges 3); Jael creeps over to the sleeping general, Sisera, and impales him with a tent peg (Judges 4); Jephthah makes a rash vow, appearing to necessitate child sacrifice (Judges 11). Mr Hill does not evade these shocking episodes, explaining how the judges were God-ordained men with God-ordained retribution to visit on Israel’s enemies. In the case of Jephthah, a compelling case is presented that he did not sacrifice his daughter in the way many think.
Future editions would benefit from further proofreading, but this is the only shortcoming. The book will remind you of God’s wise and sovereign oversight of his people and challenge you to recommit yourself to holy living and service in the local church. Above all, it will highlight the Lord Jesus as the ultimate ‘Judge’, prefigured by the likes of Gideon, Samson and other figures from this fascinating era of redemptive history.