Judges 1: Epic Fails in the Midst of Success

Dore Joshua Sun Wp

Judges 1

After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel inquired of the Lord, “Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?” The Lord said, “Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand.” And Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me into the territory allotted to me, that we may fight against the Canaanites. And I likewise will go with you into the territory allotted to you.” So Simeon went with him. Then Judah went up and the Lordgave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand, and they defeated 10,000 of them at Bezek. They found Adoni-bezek at Bezek and fought against him and defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

When Joshua died, the message of the Lord to the leaders Joshua left behind was to continue to conquer the land He has promised to them. The leaders believed and started doing so. They were able to subdue one area to the other fearlessly. (vv1-18). It was quite clear what the Lord told them, conquer the land and make sure to defeat the Canaanites.

But something happened in verse 19 that snowballed till the end of chapter 1

19 And the Lord was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron.

Scripture tells us that the Lord was with Judah. His presence and promise go before them, yet they hesitated to drive out the Canaanites in that land because of the chariots of iron. After many victories, they hesitated to in this part of the battle. In the midst of success, they feared they might lose. Lose what? Maybe the things they have possessed. They had forgotten the promise when they received some blessings. They have forgotten the nature of God’s protection and power when they saw chariots of iron. They forgot to fight with the power of the Lord and relied on their strength that’s why they started comparing their chariots to their weapons.

KEYPOINT #1: Don’t lose sight of God in your life.

And the effect was felt as one by one; the people started to compromise in the midst of great victory.

21 But the people of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem, so the Jebusites have lived with the people of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.

27 Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages, for the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. 28 When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not drive them out completely.

29 And Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites lived in Gezer among them.

30 Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, or the inhabitants of Nahalol, so the Canaanites lived among them, but became subject to forced labor.

31 Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, or the inhabitants of Sidon or of Ahlab or of Achzib or of Helbah or of Aphik or of Rehob, 32 so the Asherites lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land, for they did not drive them out.

33 Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, or the inhabitants of Beth-anath, so they lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became subject to forced labor for them.

34 The Amorites pressed the people of Dan back into the hill country, for they did not allow them to come down to the plain. 35 The Amorites persisted in dwelling in Mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim, but the hand of the house of Joseph rested heavily on them, and they became subject to forced labor.

One by one the different camps compromised by letting the Canannites stay. Some reasoned that they could be used for forced labor saving them money and giving them economic leverage. Some did it out of convenience. But no matter what the reason was – this would become a thorn in Israel’s history because they did not fully obey the Lord.

KEYPOINT #2: Your view of God would affect how you live your life.

Canaanites were pagan worshippers, and in a later part of history, Israel will intermarry with them and worship their gods. The values they have were different from what God wants us to value.

KEYPOINT #3: Compromising your faith affects your values that would affect the values of the future generation.


  1. What are the Canaanites in my life that God has told me to drive out completely?
  2. Have I kept some in my life that I know the potential to ruin me in the future?

Prayer: Lord, reveal to me areas of my life that I need to repent and turn away from. Give me the strength to do so in the name of Jesus.

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