Q: Hebrews 11:32-34 speaks of the judges as heroes of faith. Why then do we sometimes see them engaged in questionable actions or even things that seem outright wrong?
A: The book of Judges chronicles the time between Joshua and Samuel. It was a difficult time for Israel. Joshua had led the Israelites into the promised land, but they did not completely drive out the Canaanites as God had instructed them. (We can relate, for even when we obey God we sometimes do so in a similarly half-hearted fashion.)
Joshua had followed in the wake of the great Moses, and, later, in the time of Samuel, God instituted a king for Israel first, Saul, then David. During the several hundred years in between, however, there was no king in Israel. Thus the signature verses from this book are Judges 17:6; 21:25. Note that “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” It was a very dark time for Israel.
We can relate to this as well, for our time, too, is very dark – and for the same reason. That is, there is no king for the people of God. Oh, yes – Christians will claim that Jesus is king, but they immediately hive off into thousands of different denominations, each with their own king or collection of kings.
The judges that God raised up to deliver His people from the oppression of their enemies were sometimes compromised by their own weaknesses. Samson was a notable example (Judges 13:16). He performed great feats for God, but had great weaknesses as well. Therefore, we should read the book of Judges with discernment. Not every act is worthy of imitation. However, our main focus should be to imitate the faith of those men (and don’t forget Deborah, starting in Judges 4:4) just as they were extolled in Hebrews 11:32-34.
Find the search box for this blog on the right-hand side of this page and enter [samson]. You’ll find some posts that will help you see Christ in the book of Judges, and especially in the life of Samson.