Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 15

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,

Read Judges 19

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Read 19:1. (You may wish to briefly review lesson 14 for these questions, link above.) Which “days” does “in those days” refer to? What is a concubine? What is the position of the man in this verse? Why is it significant to the theme of Judges that this man was a Levite? Where else have we recently seen a Levite as a central character in a story in Judges?

Notice the repetition (see lesson 14, link above) of the phrase and the concept “when there was no king in Israel”. Who is traditionally considered the author of Judges (see lesson 1, link above)? How does this phrase explain to the author’s contemporaries a) that the events in Judges took place prior to the monarchy (the period of the kings of Israel – Saul, David, etc.) they were currently living in, b) that the anarchy of Judges necessitated the monarchy, and c) the contrast between the anarchy during the time of Judges and the law and order during the monarchy? For us as readers, how does this phrase and concept lay the groundwork, and introduce us to the need for the monarchy?

3. Read 19:2-30. Compare and contrast the genuine hospitality of the Levite’s father-in-law (3-9) with the hypocritical hospitality of the old man (20-21, 22-24) with the anti-hospitality of the worthless fellows (22,25). In what ways does this display of various degrees of hospitality inform your view of what Christian hospitality should look like in your life? Which man/men best points us to the way God welcomes us strangers in? Why?

How does the concubine’s unfaithfulness, and the husband going to bring her back, paint a picture of Israel’s unfaithfulness and God as Redeemer? How does it point us to our own sin and straying and God sending Christ to pursue us, redeem us, and restore us to Himself? Continuing this line of thought, how does the fact that the unfaithful woman in this story is a concubine impact or reflect on the fact that the church – Believers – are the bride of Christ? What is the difference in status, rights, and privileges between a concubine and a wife as it relates to our standing in Christ?

How does this passage move from the Levite (recall from lesson 14, link above, the duties of the Levites) being a picture of God as Redeemer of His Bride in 1-21 to a picture of what God would never do to His Bride in 22-30?

How are the actions of the Levite, the old man, and the worthless fellows in 22-30 reflective of the theme of Judges and the opening concept of this chapter “there was no king in Israel”?

God reveals throughout Scripture a special love, care, and compassion for the most vulnerable, such as women and children, widows and orphans, the sojourner, and the poor. He teaches us that the strong are to protect and provide for the weak. Explain how the Levite’s (especially as a “man of God”) (25), the old man’s (24), and the worthless fellows’ (22,25) behavior toward a sojourner (22) and women (24,25) demonstrates just how far their hearts were from the heart of God. Did they protect and provide for these vulnerable people, or did they sacrifice the vulnerable to protect and provide for themselves?

Think about how “there was no king in Israel” allowed for the behavior of these men, and how there was, functionally, “no King of Kings in Israel,” which led to the heart attitude of these men (which resulted in their behavior). How does what we believe inform what we do?

What are some modern day examples – inside and outside the visible church – of the strong sacrificing the weak and vulnerable to protect or provide for themselves, and how does this demonstrate just how far the heart of the “strong” is from the heart of God? How would these passages apply? How does what we believe inform what we do?

What do you think was the Levite’s purpose in dismembering and disseminating his concubine? (29-30) (Check your answer in lesson 16 next week, or peek ahead to chapter 20.)

4. In most passages of Scripture, God is present with His people. He’s giving a command, speaking through a prophet, the passage describes His thoughts and actions, etc. We’ve even seen God present in this way in previous passages in Judges. Where is God in Judges 19? Do you feel the weight of His absence in this passage? Are the false beliefs and sinful actions we see in this passage the cause or the result of God taking a step back from these people?

5. Think about the motif of light versus darkness in the Bible. How does the depth of sin and darkness in today’s passage starkly contrast the brilliance of the light of Christ?


Who established the system of judges over Israel? Was the system of judges successful (i.e. Israel flourished in her faith in God, her economy, victory over her enemies, agricultural bounty, etc.)? Whose fault was it that the system of judges failed and needed to be replaced? Think of some other systems and scenarios throughout the Bible that God set up as good, but were ruined by man’s sin. (Hint to get you started.) Does the failure of these systems mean that God was a failure or that He did not foresee what would happen when He established these systems? How do you know this? How do all of these failed systems point to the one system that has not failed and will not fail? What is that system and why will it not fail? How does the infallibility of this system help us understand that those who are genuinely saved cannot lose their salvation?

Suggested Memory Verse

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 14

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13,

Read Judges 17-18

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Read chapter 17. Was this the same Micah who wrote the book of Micah? How do you know?

Remember the old “What’s wrong with this picture?” puzzles? This chapter seems like the Bible version of that. How many sins can you spot in this passage? Which of the Ten Commandments are being broken?

Is it possible to dedicate something to the Lord and simultaneously dedicate that thing to idolatry? (17:3) To worship the one true God via idol worship? How is this an example of syncretism? Explain why “syncretism” is just a fancy word for “idolatry”. How does syncretism violate the first two Commandments?

Explain the syncretism taking place in 17:7-13. Imagine you’re Micah’s godly, doctrinally sound friend and he says 17:13 to you. How would you correct his false theology from Scripture? (Challenge yourself: First try correcting him using any applicable Old or New Testament Scripture. Then try correcting him using only the Old Testament Scriptures/events/teachings he would have had access to or should have known (Genesis 1 – Judges 16).)

Why do you think 17:6 was inserted into this story?

3. Read 18:1-6. How is the purpose of 18:1 different from the purpose of 17:6 in today’s passage?

Carefully examine the interaction between the Levite and the men from Dan in 18:3-6. Generally speaking, what were the duties of the Levites? Was this Levite doing his job as Scripture commanded? Did the men from Dan know this? (18:3) What should they have done to the Levite (and Micah, for that matter)? What did they do instead (18:5)?

Explain how enlisting the priest of an idol to inquire of the Lord was also an example of syncretism. How does this compare to professing Christians of today who consult false teachers for a “word of knowledge” or “prophecy” over their lives, attend “churches” headed up by false teachers, “worship” God using music created by heretics, etc.?

4. Read 18:7-31. Examine and summarize the actions and beliefs of the men of Dan throughout chapter 18.

  • What did they do in 18:5?
  • What did they believe in 18:6, 10?
  • What did they believe in 18:14-20 and what did they do 18:14-20 as a result of that belief?

Explain how idolatry and unbiblical theology led the men of Dan, and lead us, to sinful actions. How does what we believe about God impact what we do?

Do you think the men of Dan and the Levite were consciously, proactively, and objectively choosing to do wrong (idolatry), or do you think they were deceived and spiritually blind, thinking that their syncretism was good and pleasing to the Lord? Perhaps a mix of both? Ultimately, does it matter? Either way, they were sinning, right? How does this apply to professing Christians today who think they are actually worshiping the one true God, the God of the Bible, through false and unbiblical “Christian” systems like Catholicism, Mormonism, Word of Faith (prosperity gospel), and New Apostolic Reformation?

Really let Micah’s statement in 18:24 sink in. Compare it to these verses. What was Micah’s heart, hope and faith set on? Who were Asaph’s and Peter’s heart, hope, and faith set on?

5. Notice how idolatry not only permeates, but bookends (17:3-4, 18:30-31) today’s passage. How did the idolatry snowball from one woman purposing to make a household idol to an entire tribe of Israel worshiping that idol? Think about this in terms of how your own personal sin and unbiblical beliefs can impact not only you, but your family, friends, church, workplace, and community.

6. If Micah, the Levite, and the men of Dan had been committed to God and His Word, in what ways would this story be different?

7. In most passages of Scripture, God is present with His people. He’s giving a command, speaking through a prophet, the passage describes His thoughts and actions, etc. We’ve even seen God present in this way in previous passages in Judges. Where is God in Judges 17-18? Do you feel the weight of His absence in this passage? Are the false beliefs and sinful actions we see in this passage the cause or the result of God taking a step back from these people?


Can you think of any modern day examples of syncretism? What about churches offering yoga or “Christian yoga” classes? Churches that participate in Kwanzaa? Churches that use music from heretical sources? Christians who consult psychics, use horoscopes, or practice mindfulness? Think about the way you worship God and walk out your Christianity, both at church and as an individual. Is there any way in which you’re syncretizing Christianity and another religion, or Christianity and worldly methods?

Suggested Memory Verse

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Waterford, California Conference

I had a super time last week sharing with the wonderful ladies of Waterford, California, at First Southern Baptist Church’s women’s conference.

This was my first time traveling to northern California, and I’m indebted to everyone who took the time to show me around and tell me all about the things that make this area of the country so special, especially Pastor Greg, and the delightful couple who hosted me in their home, Lisa and Curt.

The Waterford area is covered with almond and walnut groves. This is a picturesque almond grove across the street from Curt and Lisa’s house.

Another of Curt and Lisa’s neighbors has recently acquired a few llamas. Aren’t they cute! Don’t worry, we didn’t get close enough for them to spit on us. (When I posted one of these pictures on social media, several folks corrected me that these are alpacas, not llamas. I’m no expert, and that may very well be, but here’s what I read that led me to the llama label. If I’m wrong, I stand corrected! :0)

Curt is the head of South Blossom Designs. He crafts phenomenal cutting boards, chopping blocks, serving boards, and other specialty artisan wood items. Go get a jump on your Christmas shopping!

These are some of the awesome hostess gifts and snacks from the ladies of FSBC. Those walnuts are straight from a local grove and were so fresh! And, of course, Cheerwine is my favorite, and is hard to come by where I live.

Friday night of the conference kicked off with a delicious steak dinner grilled by the fantastic men of FSBC. I also want to put a word in for one of the drink options, which was a cocktail of cranberry juice, Hawaiian Punch, and Sprite. That was super good.

And check out these lovely decorations:

Next up was our first teaching session: The Authority, Sufficiency, and Necessity of Scripture. God’s Word is vital to our lives as Christian women, sufficient to instruct us in the ways of life and godliness, and we are beholden to Scripture as the ultimate authority over our lives.

Saturday morning, after the ladies were treated to breakfast, it was time to get down to business with session two of the conference: Discernment 101: Learn to Discern. How can we tell the difference between the biblical and the cheap, unbiblical knock off? We looked at some scriptural and practical ways.

Our final session was a stimulating Q&A with lots of insightful questions. These ladies know their stuff! Afterward, it was fun getting to chat with several of the attendees:

When I travel, instead of buying souvenirs, I like to try whatever food is iconic to that area (clam chowder in Cape Cod, Chicago-style pizza, etc.). California doesn’t really have a specific iconic food, but In-N-Out is pretty close for me because I always see people raving about it online, and we don’t have In-N-Out here in Louisiana. So, for a special post-conference treat, Lisa took me to In-N-Out so I could see what all the fuss was about.

My verdict (the short version): It was good, but 5 Guys (which we do have here) is just as good. (You can check out the slightly longer version here.)

I also got to try some northern California style Mexican food (which is different from the southern New Mexico style Mexican food I grew up on and the Tex-Mex Louisiana offers), which was excellent, and a delectable Latin dish called Chipotle Milanesa at Cafe Bravo in Oakdale.

All too soon, it was time to head back home. I even got a few good pictures from the plane:

Looks like some of the mountains already got a light dusting of snow.

Considering our flight plan, I’m almost sure this is part of the Grand Canyon. It’s kind of hard to tell from the pictures, I guess. And, I didn’t get a picture of it, but I saw a dam that sure looked like it was the Hoover Dam, which also would have been in keeping with our flight plan. Besides Tiger Stadium all lit up at night at LSU, those are the coolest things I’ve ever seen from a plane.

Nothing special, and the lighting is terrible, I just really like the geometric pattern of these circular, square and triangular fields.

Many thanks to Pastor Greg, Lisa, Curt, and all of the ladies and gentlemen of FSBC who worked so hard to put on a great conference and made me feel so at home. If you’re ever in the Waterford, California, area, be sure to stop by and visit First Southern Baptist Church of Waterford.

If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.

Photo Credits

Photo of chopping block courtesy of South Blossom Designs.

All photos and videos of Michelle by Lisa Cowan.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley.

Discernment, False Teachers

Throwback Thursday ~ The Perilous Parable of Dr. Shepherd and Dr. Tickle

Originally published January 27, 2013


Once upon a time, there was a college student who was majoring in engineering. Let’s call her Brie. (Why? No particular reason except that I’m hungry and I happen to like cheese. But back to our story.)

One of the pre-requisite classes Brie had to take for her major was calculus. Brie had heard about the various calculus professors at her university. Some were tough. Some were boring. A few had a reputation for being easy.


Brie knew she did not want to take calculus from Dr. Shepherd. Although she had some friends who had taken his class and really seemed to know their stuff, calculaically speaking, they had told her that he demanded excellence of his students, had a no qualms about flunking students who weren’t trying and didn’t know the material, and gave regular—and challenging— homework and tests.


Brie was leaning more towards Dr. Tickle. Everybody said she was really nice and cared warmly for her students. She wasn’t a stickler about deadlines for assignments, taught in a funny and entertaining way, and –most importantly for Brie—didn’t believe in tests. Brie hated tests.

All of the sections of Dr. Tickle’s classes usually filled up quickly, so Brie wasted no time registering, and, happily, secured a spot. She knew she’d made the right choice when, on the first day of class, Dr. Tickle started the lesson off with a one woman skit. She filled the rest of the class period with jokes and inspiring personal stories about her own days as an engineering major. No formulas. No notes. They didn’t even crack the spines on their new text books. Brie felt completely at home and comfortable in Dr. Tickle’s class.

About half way through the semester, Brie was regaling her friend, Tess, with a joke Dr. Tickle had told in class that day. Tess giggled at the punch line, but then her brow furrowed.

“Wow, you’re really taking Dr. Tickle for calculus?” Tess asked.


“Sure,” replied Brie, “I love her class. Why?”

“Well, I took her calculus class for a few weeks. Dr. Tickle didn’t really teach much actual math. And even when she did teach us a little bit about how to work some of the problems, I checked my notes against the book, and she had completely botched it. She had left out parts of the formulas, and some of the other things she taught us were the exact opposite of what the book said. If I had stayed in her class, I wouldn’t have a clue as to what’s going on in the upper level classes I’m taking now. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even be graduating. I’d really recommend that you drop Dr. Tickle’s class and take calculus from a good professor who knows what he’s doing. I took Dr. Shepherd’s class. He’s tough, but he’s a great teacher.”

“What?!?! How can you say that about Dr. Tickle? I leave her class every day feeling great about calculus! Not once has she ever made me feel uncomfortable or stressed about my calculations. She’s so understanding and kind, and I love the fun way she teaches. I thought you were my friend, Tess, and I thought you were a nice person, too. How could you say such mean things about Dr. Tickle?

“I am your friend, Brie! I want you to be able to understand calculus properly so you’ll do well in the tougher classes that come later. I want to see you graduate with high marks and become a great engineer. I’m trying to help you!”

“Well, I think Dr. Tickle is a great teacher, and I really enjoy her class,” Brie responded coolly, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

There are Dr. Shepherds and Dr. Tickles on church campuses, too. God has not called pastors to stand in the pulpit and tickle your ears with jokes and stories. Nor has He called them to make the Bible and his sermons all about you and your self esteem, your dreams, your health, or your lust for material things. God has called pastors to:

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:2-5

If you have a Tess in your life who is warning you that a pastor, teacher, or author you’re following is a false teacher, don’t react like Brie did. What if your friend is right? Do you really want to follow a wolf in shepherd’s clothing, or do you want to follow a Dr. Shepherd who will give you the truth of God’s word even if it’s difficult? Check him out. Where? Here are some resources:

Clinging to the Golden Calf: 7 Godly Responses When Someone Says You’re Following a False Teacher

Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 13

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Read Judges 16

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Read verses 1-5. So far – that we know of (see lesson 12, link above) – Samson has gone against the wishes of his parents, married a pagan wife, broken his Nazirite vow, exhibited “hot anger” and personal vengeance, abandoned his wife, fornicated with a prostitute, fornicated with Delilah, and is about to lie multiple times (10, 13, 15). Why did God elevate someone so sinful to the position of judge over His people? Why did God use someone like that in His righteous purpose of delivering His people from the enemy, and to point ahead to Christ? Why would God commend someone like that by naming him in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11?

Why does God use you or me? Why does He continue to show us mercy when we continue to sin? Does the fact that God uses someone to accomplish His purposes mean He condones or overlooks that person’s sin? Can you think of any other instances in Scripture in which God used an unrepentant sinner or a pagan nation to accomplish His purposes? Examples of this from history? In your own life or the life of someone you know?

Compare the picture Judges paints of Samson and his sin to the picture Scripture paints of David and his sin. What similarities do you see? What differences?

What was God’s purpose (5) in Samson pulling up the gate and posts and carrying them to the top of the hill (3)?

3. Read 4-22. If Samson had not chosen to sin by shacking up with Delilah, would he have found himself in the position of feeling he had to lie to her, being betrayed by her, and having his life endangered by the Philistines? It has been said (and sung) that “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, sin will keep you longer than you want to stay, and sin will cost you more than you want to pay.” Explain this “snowball effect” of sin. How was this true in Samson’s life? Has this ever been true in your life? Have you repented?

How does this passage demonstrate this biblical truth: Trusting in the pleasures of this world and giving your heart away to this world (17-18) brings death, but trusting in the Lord and giving your heart away to the Lord brings life. Which Scriptures argue for this idea?

How could 2 Timothy 2:21-22 have been helpful instruction to Samson? How can this passage apply to your own life?

What does verse 20 mean when it says “the Lord had left him”? Why did the Lord leave him? Is this, as well as what the Philistines did to Samson (21, 24, 25), the logical, natural, and biblical consequence for his sin?

4. Read 23-31. Scripture clearly teaches that we are not to bring reproach upon the name of God in the eyes of pagans by sinning. Explain how Samson’s sin ruined his witness to the Philistines of the one true God and gave them opportunity to mock both Samson and God. Take a moment to imagine what Samson’s life and witness might have been like if he had spent his life pursuing holiness, loving God, and desiring to please Him.

Have you ever ruined your gospel witness to someone by sinning? Have you repented? What could you have done differently in that situation to glorify God with your words or actions in the eyes of the other person(s)?

What was Samson’s stated motive for wanting to kill the Philistines? (28) Was this a selfish or godly motive? What should his motive have been? Have we ever seen Samson pray or call out to God before verse 28 (see lesson 12, link above), or did Samson tend to act on his own volition in the flesh? How does 28-30 demonstrate that Samson’s humbling himself and acknowledging God led to his greatest victory: dying to self, and destroying the enemy?

5. Imagine you’re one of Samson’s brothers (31), and you’ve been given the task of giving his eulogy at the funeral. What would you say about Samson and his life? How could you use his life to point unbelieving funeral attendees to Christ?

6. Compare and contrast Gideon’s (lesson 6, link above) weakness and fear to Samson’s strength and arrogance. Which man’s condition led him to depend more greatly on the Lord? What were the results of Gideon’s dependence on the Lord versus Samson’s self-reliance? How do these two men help demonstrate the spiritual paradox of strength in weakness?

7. How did Samson’s miraculous physical strength point upward to God’s infinite and omnipotent strength?

8. Is the story of Samson a story about how great Samson was, how great a sinner Samson was, or how a great God showed great mercy to a great sinner? Think about this in terms of your own life story.


  • Certainly, all have sinned, sin is lawlessness, failing in even one point of the law makes us guilty of it all, and we have no righteousness of our own to boast in. Understanding all of that, is it right, biblical, and fair to view someone who loves Christ and lives her life to please Him, yet occasionally falls into sin, demonstrates godly grief over it, repents, and flees from it, as being in the same category, spiritually, as someone who lives to please himself and doesn’t really care whether or not he sins? Why or why not? Support your answer from Scripture.

    Which category do you think Samson was in? Which category are you in? If you think it might be the second category, I would urge you to examine yourself and consider whether or not you’ve truly been born again. Scripture is clear that those who unrepentantly persist in sin are not saved. You may wish to review the gospel and work through my study Am I Really Saved? A First John Check-Up.
  • In question 3 above, I said Samson “felt he had to” lie to Delilah. For Christians, would God ever put us in a position in which we have to lie? Back up your answer from Scripture, not circumstances. How could Samson have answered Delilah without lying? Have you ever been in a situation in which you “felt you had to” lie? How could you have answered instead? Were you in that situation due to the “snowball effect” of sin? Listen to this episode of the Truth Be Known podcast: Is Lying Always Sinful?

Suggested Memory Verse