Forty years in the wilderness didn’t teach much to the people of Israel. After the initial successes under Joshua in conquering the land of Canaan, Judges registers their failure to exterminate complete the pagans in the land.
But you have disobeyed me. Why would you do such a thing? At that time I also warned you, ‘If you disobey, I will not drive out the Canaanites before you. They will ensnare you and their gods will lure you away.’
Judges 2.2b-3 NET
“The consequences of partial obedience are seen” (C.E. Amerding, “Judges,” International Bible Commentary, F.F. Bruce ed. [Zondervan 1986] 315). To the Lord’s question, there is but stony silence. The people have no defense. If he has been and continues to be faithful to the covenant, how can they dream of infidelity to the Lord?
It is not that Israel did nothing; they failed to obey the Lord completely.
The key word that opens and closes the paragraph (vv. 1, 5) is the name of the place where God spoke to Israel. The people named it “Bokim,” which means weeping. By the name framing the passage, the deep sadness of disobedience is emphasized.
After the people’s weeping, no more word came from God. This is the way things would now be. This word explains the situation of the time of the Judges.
Shall the dark ages of the Judges come upon the church as well, for our partial obedience to the new covenant based upon the blood of Christ? To the Lord’s question, “How could you do such a thing?”, there can only be guilty silence.
O God, if all others fail, let me be faithful.
Hold this thought: When God’s people fail to obey,/ By idols they’ll be lured away.