LEAD the charge AGAINST the ENEMY by ‘PRAISING GOD’: Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, "Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?" And the Lord said, "Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand." (Judges 1:1-2)
The book of Judges begins with the ‘death’ of Joshua, who was undoubtedly a great leader after Moses, the man of God, and was used mightily by God to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land through great manifestations of God’s power. We read amazing miracles like the parting of the Jordan River (Joshua 3), the destruction of the walls of Jericho without human interference (Joshua 6), and even the stopping of the rotation of the earth upon its axis for one whole day (Joshua 10:1-14), about which the Bible declares: "And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel." (Joshua 10:14)
Such a mighty man as Joshua, however failed in one crucial area before he died – grooming and naming a successor to take over from him as the leader of the Israelites! He should have learned that from his mentor Moses who had installed him in the leadership before he died (Numbers 27:12-23). Succession planning is a very important area for any leader to focus on – that will enable the next person to carry out and implement the vision, mission and goals that have been formulated so far. Joshua had not carried forward his mission through another leader after his death! So after the death of Joshua (2:8), the Israelites asked God who will lead the charge against the Canaanites, who stood in their way to take possession and control over their inheritance.
It is interesting to note that God wanted the tribe of Judah to lead among the tribes in waging a war against the Canaanites in the south. The selection of the tribe of Judah corresponds with the divine preeminence of Judah in Jacob’s patriarchal blessing: "Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies" (Gen 49:8). We can also note the benediction of Moses upon Judah: And this he said of Judah: "Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him to his people; let his hands be sufficient for him, and may You be a help against his enemies." (Deut 33:7)
As a spiritual application to our lives, the meaning of the word ‘Judah’ means "praise", or "to praise", as we read in Gen 29:35 about Leah: And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, "Now I will praise the Lord." Therefore she called his name Judah. What God is speaking to us through this instruction is that we should always lead the charge against our enemy Satan by praising God. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 15:57).
"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Heb 13:15). When we praise God based upon His divine promises given to us in His Word (and not our circumstances); God gets the glory through our situation, and He will quickly rush to our aid to deliver us from our predicament. Can we truly praise God today?