“And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.”
The Book of Judges records the perpetual backsliding of the children of Israel, their repentance (which proved to be only temporary), God’s deliverance, and then their return to the same cycle. During this period of time, many different enemies oppressed them. When they would cry out to God, He would deliver them. We see this pattern once again in our text. They confessed their sin, “put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD.” God’s compassion and mercy for His wayward people is revealed in the words, “his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” God was grieved for their misery. He saw their downward spiral and knew the fruit of their rebellion and disobedience. When they acknowledged their error and turned to God, He then turned to them.
It is easy to see how wrong the Israelites were and wonder how God could be so forgiving toward them. But, we all should be thankful that God is as merciful as He is. We should consider ourselves blessed that He sees and cares for us when we have made a wrong decision or have walked away from His will. This is the way God is. He is loving and compassionate. None of us deserve His mercy. We know He will judge our sin if we do not judge it ourselves. He chastens us and corrects us because He loves us.
He sees our misery that is brought on because of our disobedience. A child of God cannot live in rebellion and not experience some measure of misery. How could someone who has been born again and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, be happy living in wickedness? Sin brings misery. And when God sees us in our misery, His heart is moved toward us. He wants to see us turn from our sin and begin to serve the Lord. To a certain degree, all of us can relate to the period of the Judges. We all know what it is like to drift away from God’s perfect will. We have seen times when we were lukewarm toward the Lord and the work He has given us to do. We know the misery of sin not confessed.
Thank God that He still loves us, even when we are not as faithful as we should be. As with the children of Israel, He sees us in such a state, loves us, is grieved for our misery, and wants to work in our lives.