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The DEEP

To Know War

It's hell.

Judges 3:1–6

Now these are the nations which the LORD left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it), namely, five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath. And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.

Thus the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their gods.

God leaves these other nations in Canaan so that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan … so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it.

Good grief! Why would God want the Israelites to “know war”?

“It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.” — William Tecumseh Sherman

Because in war they will know weakness and failure. In their weakness and failure, they will discover that they are not the answer; the LORD is the answer.

They must be cured of their sense of self-sufficiency—at all cost.

This gets into a very deep and advanced subject. Why is their being cured of the sense of self-sufficiency so important? Even deeper, what’s the point of all this? Why did God create a nation of chosen people in the first place? Where’s He going with this?

This theme will continue to develop over our study of Judges, but it’s already clear from this passage that whatever it is that God is up to, His main purpose is something other than making the Israelites comfortable.

Learning is more important than happiness.


This principle applies to us. We want to be happy. God wants us to be happy. But our spiritual growth is more important.

In fact, the main “plot line” in each of our lives is our spiritual growth. We may grow up, get educated, get married, have a career, even win a Nobel Prize, but our spiritual growth is what really matters—and the point of it all.

That’s why we have trials. We need them for the same reason the Israelites need war.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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