Judges is a devastating book. It begins with disobedience and ends with utter chaos. Whether you read it as a court-polemic against life without kingly leadership or as merely a collection of stories about flawed heroes, you can’t escape the central thesis: Life, without God, becomes hell.
Timothy Keller does a good job at connecting the overall narrative of Judges. Rather that viewing the biographies of Israel’s heroes (anti-heroes?) in isolation, he demonstrates the progression of life when lived without God. Each judge is more morally corrupt and less effective than the former. The final two stories have no redeeming qualities. They are included to demonstrate the final effects of the repeated refrain which stands as the last sentence in the book:
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)
I was raised in the church—a child of the Sunday School era. As a child, Gideon and Samson were presented as heroes. Just look what God can do when you give your life to him! The true story (as with most childhood memories) is darker and far more complex. Keller will help you through the darkness of Judges with his unwavering Christological focus.
—Timothy Keller, Judges for You (Surrey, UK: The Good Book Company, 2013).