In Judges, we have an account of how Samson loved a harlot, and because of his love for her, made himself vulnerable and was encompassed by his enemies. Samson was betrayed by Delilah—the woman he loved—and Samson died.
So also the prophecies of scripture represent the Messiah as loving a harlot, a sinful people whose betrayal would become the occasion for His death.
Such is the betrayal of God’s people throughout the book of Judges.
In Judges, God is wounded in the house of His friends and the language and imagery used in the book express the depth and horror of their sin.
Israel doesn’t just lapse into idol worship. Israel whores after idols.
She makes covenantal agreements with those who torture others. Israel assaults women and murders them in the open square. In Judges, God’s people kidnap, seek crowns of glory for themselves, commit fratricide, infanticide and refuse to walk according to the ways of the Lord.
Israel’s priests sell themselves for silver and give themselves to the highest bidder. Like the foolish woman in Proverbs, Israel then wipes her lips and says, “I have done nothing wrong.”
But then, when she finds herself in distress and under God’s judgement, she has the audacity to cry out to God and… God raises up a Saviour to deliver them.
Why does God do this? When you consider what she did to get herself into trouble it’s almost too much for anyone to stomach. Why does God continue to help Israel?
One of the mistakes we often make is to look at other people’s behaviour and decide if they deserve to be helped or not.
It’s hard for us to give up our dependence on good works as the ground for our deliverance, isn’t it?
We judge the morality of the thing and based on our judgement decide who is worthy. We decide what is right in our own eyes. And that is precisely the problem with Israel.
We want Samson to be worthy, so we play down his ungodly alliance with Delilah. Okay, but then what do you do with the priest who dismembered his concubine?
Some things are defensible in war that are not defensible in times of peace. But that is not the point. The book of Judges does not invite us to judge the morality of God’s people. The book of Judges invites us to witness the unbelievable and undeserved arm of grace.
The point is that nobody gets it right, and those who do get a few things right, die. That’s the book of Judges. A book about heroes who died. Saviours whose faith was astonishing, who really did heroic things and who really did deliver Israel out of all her troubles, then died.
Again and again, God saves His people by sending imperfect heroes. And the reason He does this is because they are His people.
And when His people cry out to Him, He saves them.
How much more then, will He save us, His people, when we cry out to Him and call upon a perfect hero? A hero whom God has raised from the dead.
The book of Judges leaves us longing for a hero who would not only save us but also never fail us.
And that hero has come.