In this era after Joshua, Israel started out very well. They first sought God and asked, “Who shall go up for us?” Judah and Simeon were faithful. But the following phrase serves as an important theme in this first chapter: “did not drive out.” This was a far cry from what God had intended for Israel to do—complete removal of the Canaanites. Verses 27 and 28 read: “…so the Canaanites persisted in living in the land….but they (Israel) did not drive them out completely.” The failure of Israel to fully obey God resulted in their enemies destroying Israel’s love for God from the inside out.
Repeatedly throughout this chapter, I am reminded of four heart enemies that God wants to completely destroy within us: guilt, anger, greed and jealousy. All four of these heart enemies allow self to take the throne: Guilt: “You owe me and need to pay me back for what you did;” anger – “I own you and control you;” greed – “I owe myself a lot more than what I have;” and jealousy, “God owes me more blessings when I compare them with what He gives to others.” Each of these enemies we may partially subdue through God’s help and for a time their power in our lives may be minimized. However, allowing them to persistently live in our hearts is like leaving the Canaanites in the land - they will grow like a cancer, causing our spiritual lives to vacillate like the nation of Israel did throughout the era of the Judges. In every case, God is cast aside and self becomes king.
Brennon Kirstein, Chaplain
Southern Adventist University