Study the following scriptures:
Judges 2:6–23. The rising generation of the children of Israel forsake the Lord to serve false gods.
Judges 4:1–16. Barak is commanded to free Israel from Jabin, king of Canaan (4:1–7). He agrees to go if Deborah will go with him (4:8–9). Deborah and Barak deliver Israel from the Canaanites (4:10–16).
Judges 6–7. Gideon is commanded to deliver Israel from the Midianites (6:1–24). He and 10 other men destroy Baal’s altar (6:25–35). The Lord assures Gideon of help by granting him two signs (6:36–40). Gideon and 300 other men deliver Israel (7:1–25).
Judges 13–16. An angel instructs Samson’s parents to raise him as a Nazarite (13:1–25). Samson performs great feats of strength but breaks many of his Nazarite vows (14–15). Samson gives in to Delilah’s enticing; his hair is cut, and he becomes weak, is captured by the Philistines, and dies while pulling down their temple (16:1–31).
After Joshua died, judges served as Israel’s rulers and military leaders. Most of their reign was tragic as Israel went through the cycle of apostasy, captivity, repentance, and delivery many times. Offsetting the tragic parts of this history are stories of righteous judges such as Deborah and Gideon, who remained true and exercised faith and courage in helping deliver their people.
What can we learn from Deborah about being a true friend? How have your friends helped you face difficult challenges or obey the Lord’s commandments? How can we be better friends to others?
As a Nazarite and a member of the house of Israel, Samson made covenants with the Lord. What covenants do we make with the Lord? How have these covenants strengthened you?
What were the consequences of Samson’s violation of his covenants? (See Judges 16:17–21.) What are the consequences when we violate our covenants?
Additional reading: “Judges, The” and “Judges, Book of,” Bible Dictionary, pages 719–20.