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The Divine Disappointment of our Leaders (Judges/1-2 Samuel)

Have you ever been disappointed by leaders around you? As gifted and godly as some leaders may be, eventually all human leaders disappoint. Does that mean we cannot have hope? No. Jesus entered the world as the Perfect Leader. The Ultimate King who never falters or fails. We are to use the pain of human failure to point us towards Him. Here’s how that unfolds in the Old Testament.

All through Judges we’ve witnessed a dual downward trajectory – an increase both deafness towards God and independence from God.

The bulk of the book of Judges has focused on the steady digression of the leaders of Israel, but these closing chapters (17-21) drill down into daily life and reveal that spiritual dysfunction and darkness have thoroughly permeated the land and hearts of the people. This spiritual atrophy all but extinguishes any hope of restoration and hope coming from Israel’s leaders. Truly, Judges ends on a super sad note.

Where should they look for hope?

The book of Judges points to the tribe of Judah as a source of hope. Twice in the book we see the phrase “Judah shall go up first” (1:2, 20:18). Through the last 5 chapters (17-21) Benjamin is portrayed as the problem and Judah is portrayed as the solution. This contrast and tension between the problem tribe of Benjamin and the solution tribe of Judah prefigures the tension between Israel’s first kings: Saul (who is from Benjamin), and David (who is from Judah).

Did you know that Israel’s kings were to come from the line of Judah and no other tribe? Genesis 49:10 says,

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

Saul was chosen at a time when God had not specified that he should be king (wrong time). Saul was chosen by Israel even though he was not from Judah, but from the perverted and corrupt tribe of Benjamin (wrong man/ wrong tribe). Saul was chosen by the morally bankrupt Israelite's because he was tall, dark and handsome (wrong reason). That’s a recipe for disaster.

So, Judges raises the tribe of Judah up as the one to look to for hope and deliverance.

But, as we continue to read into the books of 1 and 2 Samuel we see cracks in Judah’s king David. Even he falls short and sins (ever heard of Bathsheba and Uriah?). Where then should we look? If even King David from Judah falls short, in whom can we find hope and deliverance?

Answer: King Jesus. He is also from the tribe of Judah. He is the Ultimate King who will rule with righteousness. He is the “Lion of Judah” (Gen. 49:9; Rev. 5:5). Jesus is from the family of David and through Jeremiah, God promised that the “righteous Branch” (Jesus) would spring up from David’s line.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ​‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ (Jer. 33:14).

This is a good time to remember that eventually people in whom we trust will disappoint, but God’s son Jesus will never disappoint. Use the pain, frustration and perhaps even bitterness of your disappointment in human leaders to point you to the perfect Son of God who loves you and who offers you peace in the midst of a crazy world.


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