Othniel was a Hebrew deliverer and a judge that God raised to save the Israelites from the oppression of the Canaanites (Joshua 3:7-11). After the death of Joshua, the children of Israel strayed away from God and did evil in His sight. They forgot the LORD their God, and served the pagan gods of the Canaanites – Baals and Asherahs Canaanites (v. 7).
So, the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He withheld his hand of protection around them. As a result, they were sold into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and they served that king eight years (v. 8). Thus, the sins of the people led to their slavery just as God has warned them (Deuteronomy 28:15,25).
God sends a deliverer
But when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD, He raised up a deliverer for them. His name was Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother (v. 9). And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. From this we can see that God did not keep the special blessing of the Holy Spirit for NT times alone. Anciently, as well, He granted the Holy Spirit for His servants as they needed it.
When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Othniel, he first judged Israel spiritually and then he cleansed the land through war. Thus, he put first things first. And this is the will of God. For sin, the deadliest of all enemies, needs to be overcome first in the lives of God’s children. Jesus said, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
Othniel delivers Israel
Othniel went out to war, and the LORD delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over all his enemies. So, the land had rest for forty years (v. 10,11). As Othniel took decided action to overcome, in like manner, the believers can’t succeed in their spiritual life by sitting calm even if the Spirit of the Lord has been given to them. They need to take action. Although the Spirit of God is the motivator of everything good and of all great achievements, God still needs human agencies to collaborate with Him.
After his faithful time of service to God, “Othniel the son of Kenaz died” (Judges 3:11). His actions testified that he has walked with God. He was clearly a great judge in that no injudiciousness or unsanctified actions were attached to his name. Other judges, in spite of their victories, had shadows of error, sorrow or failure that marked their lives.
In His service,