Unlikely Saviours – Judges 3:7-31

By John Bellingham on March 23, 2014
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Unlikely Saviours

Judges 3:7-31


– Now that the cycle of apostasy has been outlined (Chapter 2), the author moves us into the main body of the book which illustrates this pattern through 7 ‘Major Judges’ (Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Jephthah, Samson) and 6 ‘Minor Judges’ (Shamgar, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon)

– The opening ‘cycles’ in Chapter 3 reminds us that God uses unlikely people to accomplish His sovereign purposes in salvation


I. Othniel:  A Gentile Judge (3:7-11)

1)    A ‘Kenizzite’ (cf. Gen 15:19; Num 32:12)

a.      Descended from Esau (Gen 15:19, 36:9-12)

b.      Related to Caleb (cf. 1:13)

c.      Those Kenizzites who embraced the Covenant were joined to the tribe of Judah

2)    A ‘Forgettable’ Judge

a.      Less is said about Othniel than about any other ‘major’ Judge

b.      The Othniel ‘cycle’ is more complete than any other of the cycles in this book

  • The better the judge, the more complete the ‘apostasy cycle’ is
  • The better the judge, the less that is said about him/her
  • Othniel is the ‘ideal’ judge and Samson is the most deeply flawed judge

c.      Emphasis on the Saving Activity of God

  • God sells them into the hand of the enemy (Cushan–rishathaim – means ‘dark, doubly wicked’)
  • God raises up the Deliverer
  • God equips Othniel with the Spirit
  • God delivers the enemy into his hand

Application – He must increase, and I must decrease!  “May his beauty rest upon me as I seek the lost to win.  And may they forget the channel, seeing only Him.” – Kate B. Wilkinson


II. Ehud:  A Disabled Judge (3:12-30)

1)    Left-handed

a.      Hebrew indicates that he may have suffered from a physical deformity or paralysis

b.      Ironic since he is a Benjamite (‘son of my right hand’)

2)    Cunning and Brutal

a.      Ehud is God’s chosen agent of deliverance, but Ehud’s method is Canaanite

b.      Compared with Othniel, the author’s silence about God’s role in Ehud’s devious plan is deafening!  Did God approve of the method?

3)    Old Testament Satire

a.      Eglon means “calf” and sounds like the Hebrew word for “round/ rotund” – he is presented as a calf fattened for slaughter

b.      Ehud escapes while Eglon’s men foolishly wait around for him to come out of the bathroom!

ApplicationGod delights in using ‘left-handed’ people like us to accomplish His purposes (cf. 1 Cor 1:26-29);  Jesus came as a ‘left-handed’ Saviour who was not recognized as the promised Messiah.  



III. Shamgar:  A Poorly Armed Judge (3:31)

1)    Man of Mystery

a.      Gentile name with Canaanite overtones

b.      Delivers Israel with a common farming tool!

c.      He is presented as the ideal ‘minor’ Judge

Application  – God’s marvelous triumph over Satan comes through a plain wooden cross



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