"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice
of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a
prophetic, life-changing power for you.
"The Benjaminites did not dislodge the Jebusites who dwelt in Jerusalem, with the result that the Jebusites live in Jerusalem beside the Benjaminites to the present day." Judges 1:21
The Israelites were victorious, but not completely victorious. They occupied only some of the promised land. Have you defeated Satan but neglected to fully disarm and despoil him? (See Lk 11:22)
Prayer: Father, forgive me for not receiving the full benefit of Jesus' death and resurrection.
Promise: "The Lord answered: 'Judah shall attack: I have delivered the land into his power.' " 1:2
"Whatever they undertook, the Lord turned into disaster for them, as in His warning He had sworn He would do, till they were in great distress. Even when the Lord raised up judges to deliver them from the power of their despoilers, they did not listen to their judges, but abandoned themselves to the worship of other gods." Judges 2:15-17
When the Israelites compromised with the world and put other things ahead of God, they were doomed. Even the judges God raised up could only give temporary relief.
Prayer: Father, may I not give allegiance to the gods of this present age (Eph 2:2; 2 Cor 4:4).
Promise: "I said that I would never break My covenant with you." 2:1
"But when the Israelites cried out to the Lord, He raised up for them a savior, Othniel, son of Caleb's younger brother Kenaz, who rescued them." Judges 3:9
The Israelites offended and forgot the Lord. This resulted in their enemies defeating them. Then the Lord raised up charismatic leaders (judges) to rescue the people. They later fell back into sin and defeat. This pattern persists to the present day.
Prayer: Father, break the cycle of sin and defeat by sending the Spirit to convict me of sin (Jn 16:8).
Promise: "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel." 3:10
"But you shall not gain the glory in the expedition on which you are setting out, for the Lord will have Sisera fall into the power of a woman." Judges 4:9
One lone woman killed the enemy's general because the Lord was with her.
Prayer: Father, raise up prophetesses and prophets to free Your people.
Promise: "I will lead Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, out to you at the Wadi Kishon, together with his chariots and troops, and will deliver them into your power." 4:7
"Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, strike up a song." Judges 5:12
Deborah and Barak sang a song of victory. In the new covenant, we sing a new song (Rv 14:3), for we don't kill our enemies. Instead, we die for them and rise from the dead.
Prayer: Father, put a song in my heart to praise You forever.
Promise: "May all your enemies perish thus, O Lord! But your friends be as the sun rising in its might!" 5:31
"But he answered him, 'Please, my Lord, how can I save Israel? My family is the meanest in Manasseh, and I am the most insignificant in my father's house.' " Judges 6:15
Gideon was the lowliest of the lowly. His faith was so weak that he asked God for sign after sign. When Gideon destroyed his father's altar to Baal and cut down the sacred pole, he did it at night for fear of his family and townspeople. If Gideon could be a great champion for God, so can you.
Prayer: Father, raise me up as a mighty warrior in Your army.
Promise: " 'I shall be with you,' the Lord said to him, 'and you will cut down Midian to the last man.' " 6:16
"The Lord said to Gideon, 'You have too many soldiers with you for Me to deliver Midian into their power, lest Israel vaunt itself against Me and say, 'My own power brought me the victory.' " Judges 7:2
Gideon defeated an innumerable army of Midianites with three hundred guys who drank funny and made a lot of noise. All the glory had to go to God.
Prayer: Father, make me weaker by human standards so I will rely more on Your power (2 Cor 12:9).
Promise: "The three hundred men kept blowing the horns, and throughout the camp the Lord set the sword of one against another." 7:22
"The Lord must rule over you." Judges 8:22
When the Lord gives us success, we should give Him all the credit and depend on Him totally. However, in their success the Israelites turned away from the Lord. "After Gideon was dead, the Israelites again abandoned themselves to the Baals, making Baal of Berith their god and forgetting the Lord, their God" (8:33-34).
Prayer: Father, give me success only if it will draw me closer to You.
Promise: "And the land had rest for forty years, during the lifetime of Gideon." 8:28
"He then went to his ancestral house in Ophrah, and slew his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone." Judges 9:5
When God's people are not right with God, they are their own worst enemies. When the body of Christ is not totally committed to Jesus the Head, it attacks itself.
Prayer: Father, I repent of attacking other parts of Christ's body.
"Since they had abandoned the Lord and would not serve Him, the Lord became angry with Israel and allowed them to fall into the power of [the Philistines and] the Ammonites." Judges 10:6-7
The justice, peace, and freedom of a society is directly related to the repentance and holiness of that society.
Prayer: Father, the best thing I can do for the world is to become holy. Make me holy as You are holy (1 Pt 1:15).
Promise: "They cast out the foreign gods from their midst and served the Lord, so that He grieved over the misery of Israel." 10:16
"Jephthah made a vow to the Lord. 'If you deliver the Ammonites into my power,' he said 'whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites shall belong to the Lord. I shall offer him up as a holocaust.' " Judges 11:30
Jephthah unknowingly vowed to offer his daughter as a holocaust if he would conquer the Ammonites. Jephthah's daughter prefigures Christ, Who died that we might conquer Satan, sin, and death.
Prayer: Father, thank You for loving us so much that You gave Your Son Jesus to die for us (Jn 3:16).
Promise: "The Lord delivered them into his power." 11:32
"Why do you go on to fight with the Ammonites without calling us to go with you? We will burn your house over you." Judges 12:1
The Ephraimites complained about not getting in on Jephthah's victory (see also 8:1). We often blame others when we miss out on great opportunities. However, the problem is really our lack of commitment.
Prayer: Father, I have no one to blame but myself. I repent.
"An angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, 'Though you are barren and have had no children, yet you will conceive and bear a son.' " Judges 13:3
The Israelites were saved through the miraculous birth of a boy who was to be a Nazirite. We are saved by Jesus the Nazorean Who was miraculously born of the virgin Mary.
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your marvelous plan of salvation.
Promise: "The boy grew up and the Lord blessed him; the Spirit of the Lord first stirred him in Mahaneh-dan." 13:24-25
"Samson answered his father, 'Get her for me, for she pleases me.' " Judges 14:3
Samson's physical strength was dwarfed by his spiritual weakness in sexual temptation. His lust drove him to marry a Philistine woman who later married Samson's best man from his first wedding.
Prayer: Father, give me victory over sexual temptation at all costs.
Promise: "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him." 14:19
"So Samson left and caught three hundred foxes. Turning them tail to tail, he tied between each pair of tails one of the torches he had at hand. He then kindled the torches and set the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines." Judges 15:4-5
The Lord in His mercy even took Samson's bad marriage and turned it into a series of great victories over the Philistines. If we repent, the Lord will turn all things to the good in our lives (Rm 8:28).
Prayer: Father, work through me or at least despite me.
Promise: "Then God split the cavity in Lehi, and water issued from it, which Samson drank till his spirit returned and he revived." 15:19
"She had him sleep on her lap, and called for a man who shaved off his seven locks of hair. Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him." Judges 16:19
After his disastrous marriage, Samson continued in sexual sin. When he visited a harlot, he walked into an ambush. However, he escaped by his tremendous strength. Next, he "fell in love" with Delilah. She repeatedly tried to make a fool of Samson and turned him over to the Philistines. After escaping three times, he broke his Nazirite vow by having his hair cut. Then he was captured and blinded. Yet God in His mercy gave Samson renewed strength by which he toppled the Philistine temple and killed thousands of the enemy.
Prayer: Father, free those in the bondage of sexual sin.
"Thus the layman Micah had a sanctuary. He also made an ephod and household idols, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest." Judges 17:5
Micah stole silver from his mother. After she pronounced a curse over the stolen silver, he returned it. Then she hired a silversmith to make an idol out of the silver. Next, Micah hired a young itinerant Levite to be his priest. So Micah started his own religion, founded on stealing, cursing, and sin.
Prayer: Father, may my religion not be man-made but God-given.
"Having taken what Micah had made, and the priest he had had, they attacked Laish, a quiet and trusting people; they put them to the sword and destroyed their city by fire." Judges 18:27
The Danites did not have the faith to conquer the land promised to them so they attacked and killed the innocent people of Laish to get other land. When we fail to do what God has assigned to us, we hurt others in trying to fill the void.
Prayer: Father, may I do my job nothing less and nothing more (see 1 Cor 3:5).
Promise: "Those against whom you go are a trusting people, and the land is ample. God has indeed given it into your power: a place where no natural resource is lacking." 18:10
"While they were enjoying themselves, the men of the city, who were corrupt, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They said to the old man whose house it was, 'Bring out your guest, that we may abuse him.' " Judges 19:22
The men of Gibeah of Benjamin attempted a homosexual rape of a Levite from Ephraim. When this failed, they gang-raped the Levite's concubine. The girl died. This resulted in war against the Benjaminites.
Prayer: Father, may we repent of sexual sin before we cause more violence, murder, and war.
"The men of Israel withdrew through the territory of the Benjaminites, putting to the sword the inhabitants of the cities, the livestock, and all they chanced upon. Moreover they destroyed by fire all the cities they came upon." Judges 20:48
After losing twice, the Israelites almost exterminated the Benjaminites. In war, are there any winners? In civil war, are there any survivors? Do you know of any civil wars in your family or church?
Prayer: Father, may I "offer no resistance to injury" (Mt 5:39).
Promise: "The Lord said, 'Attack! for tomorrow I will deliver him into your power.' " 20:28
"In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best." Judges 21:25
When we do our own thing in destroying our enemies, we find out we are our own worst enemies. We have destroyed a part of our own family, our own body. We have destroyed ourselves.
Prayer: Father, may I never destroy people by doing my will instead of Yours.
When you finish reading this booklet, give it to someone else. Pray for that person to be motivated to read God's word and make a total commitment to the Lord. Use this book as a tool for evangelization. Right now pray to know the person with whom you are to share this book.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, June 20, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 1996
The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com