Reading for Today:
Judges 3:10 The Spirit of the LORD came. Certain judges were expressly said to have the Spirit of the Lord come upon them (6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14); others apparently also had this experience. This is a common Old Testament expression signifying a unique act of God which conferred power and wisdom for victory. But this did not guarantee that the will of God would be done in absolutely all details, as is apparent in Gideon (8:24–27, 30), Jephthah (11:34–40), and Samson (16:1).
Judges 3:20 “I have a message from God for you.” Ehud claimed he came to do God’s will in answer to prayer (v. 15). Calmly and confidently, Ehud acted and later credited the defeat of the wicked king to God (v. 28; see Ps. 75:6, 7, 10; Dan. 4:25), though it was by means of Ehud, as Jael used her way (4:21) and Israel’s armies used the sword (4:16). By God’s power, Ehud’s army would slay a greater number (v. 29). Men’s evil provokes God’s judgment (Lev. 18:25).
Judges 3:31 Shamgar. His extraordinary exploit causes one to think of Samson (15:16). an ox goad. This was a stout stick about 8 to 10 feet long and 6 inches around, with a sharp metal tip to prod or turn oxen. The other end was a flat, curved blade for cleaning a plow.
Judges 4:4 Deborah, a prophetess. She was an unusual woman of wisdom and influence who did the tasks of a judge, except for military leadership. God can use women mightily for civil, religious, or other tasks, e.g., Huldah the prophetess (2 Kin. 22:14), Philip’s daughters in prophesying (Acts 21:8, 9), and Phoebe a deaconess (Rom. 16:1). Deborah’s rise to such a role is the exception in the book because of Barak’s failure to show the courage to lead courageously (vv. 8, 14). God rebuked his cowardice by the pledge that a woman would slay Sisera (v. 9).
Proverbs 14:19 evil will bow. The ancient custom was for the inferior to prostrate himself before the superior or wait humbly before the great one’s gate seeking favor. Good will humble evil.
DAY 19: How deep of a commitment does Christ ask of His followers?
From the teaching in Luke 14:25–35, it is clear that Christ’s aim was not to gather appreciative crowds, but to make true disciples. He never adapted His message to majority preferences, but always plainly declared the high cost of discipleship. Here He made several bold demands that would discourage the halfhearted.
“Hate”(v. 26). A similar statement in Matthew 10:37 is the key to understanding this difficult command. The “hatred” called for here is actually a lesser love. Jesus was calling His disciples to cultivate such a devotion to Him that their attachment to everything else—including their own lives—would seem like hatred by comparison. See 16:13; Genesis 29:30, 31 for similar usages of the word “hate.”
“Bear his cross” (v. 27). I.e., willingly. This parallels the idea of hating one’s own life in v. 26. “Count the cost” (v. 28). The multitudes were positive but uncommitted. Far from making it easy for them to respond positively, He set the cost of discipleship as high as possible and encouraged them to do a careful inventory before declaring their willingness to follow.
“Forsake all” (v. 33). Only those willing to carefully assess the cost and invest all they had in His kingdom were worthy to enter. This speaks of something far more than mere abandonment of one’s material possessions. It is an absolute, unconditional surrender. His disciples were permitted to retain no privileges and make no demands. They were to safeguard no cherished sins, treasure no earthly possessions, and cling to no secret self-indulgences. Their commitment to Him must be without reservation.
From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.