Scripture Focus: Judges 11.27
27 “I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”

Student Writers Month:

This month, The Park Forum welcomes college and seminary student writers pursuing ministry careers. For more info about our yearly Student Writer program, see our website.

Reflection: The Judge’s Decision

By Dennis Nicholson

If I’m being honest, I find it hard to read stories like Jephthah’s in the Bible. My first instinct isn’t to contemplate what I’ve read but to condemn it altogether. The cruelty of Jephthah’s brothers, his godless companions, his rash vow, and his daughter’s resulting sacrifice—these aren’t pleasant things to read about. And in a sense, that’s the point of the book of Judges. When everyone does what is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6), in ignorance of God’s law, injustice and cruelty result.

But it’s easy to turn this one lesson in the book of Judges into a blanket condemnation. It’s easy to shake my head at Jephthah’s unfaithfulness and the Israelites’ obvious failings. It’s hard to point out my own unfaithfulness, my own insidious failings. 

It’s easy to play favorites. But God doesn’t show favoritism (Romans 2:11).

“Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites” (Judges 11:27). If it were me who were judging, perhaps I would have decided against Israel. But in the eyes of God, the perfect judge, there is no distinction. “All who sin under the law will be judged by the law” (Romans 2:12). Israelite and Ammonite alike, Jew and Gentile alike, ancient and modern alike—all people deserve judgment for sin.

Why, then, did the Lord judge for Israel? How can a just God favor an unjust people? Because, despite their unfaithfulness, God was working through the Israelites to bring about his perfect justice. Israel’s final judge, Samuel, would anoint Israel’s greatest king, David. And one thousand years later, a son of David would bear the just punishment for Israel upon his shoulders. 

The perfect judge would send his own son to die a criminal’s death on a cross so that the sons of Israel could be set free.

The day is coming when that same perfect judge will preside over a grander trial: the final judgment. That day, we will have to give an account of all we have done (Romans 14:10-12).

But—thanks be to God!—our pardon is secure. Our sins have been covered. We will stand before the judge’s seat as innocents, not because of our own faithfulness, but because God was working through us to bring about his perfect justice.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so is his mercy great upon those who fear him. — Psalm 103.11

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Judges 11:12-40 (Listen – 5:53)
Acts 15 (Listen – 5:43)

Read More about Readers’ Choice 2021
It is time to hear from you about the posts from the past eleven months (September 2020 – July 2021) that have challenged, comforted, and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Read more about The Righteous Judge :: A Guided Prayer
And this is your justice on earth—to be a refuge and stronghold for the weak and troubled.