The book of Judges presents Israel's human frailty, the nation's need for both spiritual and political deliverance, and God's use of flawed human leaders to guide and preserve his chosen people through a dark period of their history.
The book of Ruth tells a smaller story within this larger narrative, showing God quietly at work in the lives of a few pious individuals, remaining true to his covenant and his people.
Cundall and Morris place each book in its historical and canonical context, not only rendering each useful for scholarly study but also demonstrating their contemporary relevance.
“But most of all the book is a book about God. It deals with unimportant people and unimportant matters. But it deals with them in such a way as to show that God is active in the affairs of men. He works his purpose out and blesses them that trust him.” (Page 218)
“However, it is when a man is fully conscious of his own weakness and the difficulties of the situation that the Lord can take and use him. The man who relies upon his own innate strength is not likely to draw upon the Lord’s grace, nor give him the glory for anything that is achieved. It is also equally true that the Lord saw not only the man that was—weak and timorous, but the man that could be—strong, resolute and courageous.” (Page 104)
“The final chapter of Gideon’s life appears as a distinct anticlimax to the heroic actions of the earlier section, and the man who had given such a magnificent lead to his fellows now sets a deplorable example of self-indulgence in which he, his family and the whole nation were involved. Perhaps it is easier to honour God in some courageous action in the limelight of a time of national emergency than it is to honour him consistently in the ordinary, everyday life, which requires a different kind of courage. Gideon, who came through the test of adversity with flying colours, was not the first nor the last to be less successful in the test of prosperity.” (Page 119)
“A progressive deterioration is revealed, each successive cycle being characterized by a greater descent into apostasy and corruption, and by a more superficial repentance, than the one preceding. This process is consistent with our modern understanding of the psychology of man. Terminology changes with the passing of the years, but the profound insights into human nature which the Old Testament gives us cannot be denied. The voice of conscience can become dulled by successive acts of sin, and repentance can become more and more superficial until, ensnared in the character formed by a multitude of thoughts and actions, a miracle is needed to produce a genuine repentance and a seeking of the Lord with the whole heart.” (Page 72)
Arthur E. Cundall was Principal of the Bible College of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.
Leon Morris (PhD, University of Cambridge) was Principal of Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia retiring in 1979. He then served as visiting professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Morris contributed to the Pillar New Testament Commentary with his volumes on The Gospel according to Matthew and The Epistle to the Romans.