BIBLE MEDITATION: “In those days there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing.” Judges 17:6 (The Message Bible)
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: This text focuses on a dark period in Israel’s history in which he did not seek or want direction from God. It is an ironic text because it comes in the aftermath of evidence of God’s power. In slavery, Israel called upon God and he delivered them and pointed them in the direction of Canaan. At the Red Sea he still pointed them in that direction and made a way for them through the waters. In the wilderness, he gave them the same direction, and fed them for 40 years. At the River Jordan, despite the fears of the military strength of their enemies, he gave the direction to cross over and he brought down the walls of Jericho and gave them victory. Now, in the land the people divided into twelve sectors, each headed by a tribal leader. Without a central voice, each tribe seemed to go in its own direction. Only a few sought direction from God. There was no king of Israel at that time, and the people turned from the mighty God who had brought them out of Egypt and from the laws that he had given them for their own good. They were stubborn and did what they thought was right rather than follow their Father’s guidelines. Both Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25 repeat exactly the same words: “In those days Israel had no king. Each man did what he considered to be right” (NET). Or as the New American Standard puts it, “Each man did what was right in his own eyes.” They found deliverance only when they listened to the word of God. It provided the light they needed as the stumbled in darkness. In the word they found God’s will. Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light unto my path.” It shows us the path that is “fit” in the eyes of God. Once we are shown that path, the faithful will follow. God provides the vision
ACTION POINT: How do you choose your direction in life? There are many who are traveling paths in life that reflect their own interests or those chosen for them by others. A generation ago a group of brothers known as the Isley Brothers coined a phrase, “It’s your thing, do what you want to do.” It epitomized what many people believed about choosing life directions; it’s my life, I live it the way I choose. Another popular group Sly and the Family Stone reflected acceptance of this idea in their song “Everyday People” in which they said, “different strokes for different folks.” Everybody can do their own thing. The poet William Henley caught the spirit of individualism when he wrote his epic poem “Invictus” which said:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
There are others who go even further, they espouse the ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson in his treatise “Self-Reliance” in which he taught that each individual should trust himself alone, chart his own course and answer to himself alone. Following these lines of thought many have blazed life trails of their own making without ever once stopping to ask whether that path is the path that God has chosen for them.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that “We are allowed to do all things," but not all things are good for us to do. "We are allowed to do all things," but not all things help others grow stronger (1 Cor. 10:23). Doing what feels good to us at the moment may be a temporary fix, but it doesn’t take long for us to learn that, “everything that feels good to you is not always good for you.” Following God’s directions is always good for us. As Christians, we constantly ask God to give us direction and to guide our path. The steps of the righteous are ordered; so we move at his command.
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