Before I get to the thought that I’m left with upon reading this chapter, let me first address the somewhat brutal treatment of Adoni-Bezek upon his defeat by Judah. We are told that they cut off his thumbs and his big toes. You might wonder why they would do such a thing. First off, the reason for cutting off the thumbs is so that he could never again pick up a sword or pull a bow in battle. The big toes were cut off so that he could never again run in pursuit of, or away from an enemy. This sort of treatment was not something that the Israelites normally did, but it was something that Adoni-Bezek had done some seventy times. So this was done to him as a sort of retribution.
We read today of several victories by the various tribes, but also several instances where they were unable to completely rid themselves of the Canaanites.
Had not God promised this land to them? Did he not say that He would deliver their enemies to them? So what’s going on here? Why were they not able?
We’re given a hint in verse 19: And the Lord was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron.
Remember hearing about chariots of iron in the book of Joshua? It seems that the tribes of Joseph, Ephriam and Manasseh, were afraid of these chariots. They thought that they could not be defeated. But God had told them that He would deliver their enemies into their hands. Why the fear, then?
Because they did not believe. They lacked faith. And this is at the bottom of why the Israelites were unable to completely rid the promised land of the Canaanites.
And it is the reason why we often have our own Canaanites in our lives. How often are we told in scripture to “Fear not”? Do a search sometime. Over and over again, God says, “Fear not.”
And yet, some of us are riddled with fear. Or we have one iron chariot in our life that we are afraid to deal with.
God says, “Fear not. I am with you always.” If God is for us, who can be against us?