Judges – I Samuel 16
The seeds of rebellion and apostasy that Joshua warned about began to take root and grow shortly after his death. The generation that followed began to rebel against the Lord. In so doing, Israel merited the First Course of Punishment set forth in Leviticus 26. The book of Judges, Ruth, and the first 16 chapters of I Samuel record Israel’s history under that First Course of Punishment.
Judges gets its name from the series of judges that God raised up to judge and instruct Israel during this time. God did this solely on the basis of His mercy and grace, for the Law contract did not obligate Him to do so. Though Israel often responded positively to the judge, Judges 2:19 states that they consistently returned to their apostasy and advanced on in further corruption. For a span of about 450 years Israel experienced the First Course of Punishment, but was not reformed by it. In the days of Samuel, therefore, God made it known that they deserved the Second Course and declared that it was coming.
God gave Israel clear evidence of just how deplorable and abhorrent they had become to Him when He permitted the ark of the LORD to be taken by the Philistines. The departure of the glory from Israel, along with slaying Eli’s sons in judgment, testified to Israel’s low state at this time. Though the Second Course was more than merited at this time, God in mercy and grace raised up yet one more judge and prophet – Samuel. In accordance with the meaning of his mother’s name, Hannah, grace was extended to Israel.
Under Samuel, Israel was judged. At first there was a positive response to Samuel’s reproofs and corrections. Accordingly, God provided deliverance from the Philistines. Much like Joshua, Samuel set up a memorial and testimony to God’s “Jehovah-ness” to remind Israel that their only hope and help is in the LORD. Yet Israel’s reformation was short-lived. They soon rebelled against God worse than ever, desiring to be like the nations around them. In connection with this, they set the stage for the Second Course of Punishment.