Here is, in the words of the writer,”an affectionate challenge to Christian youth.” It contains an ageless reminder of the importance of the study of the Word of God.
In Judges 1:11-15, Othniel, “The Lion of God” (for so is his name), is an outstanding example of what God can do with youth, ambition and enthusiasm, when it expresses itself in the fear and confidence of Him. Othniel is the more refreshing in a day when “Christian Youth,” or what claims to be such, is expressing itself in ways conspicuous by an entire absence of either Divine fear or dependence. In the Name of Jehovah, and with the fair Achsah as the goal, he “went against the inhabitants of Debir, and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher.” Debir means “the Book”, and Kirjath-sepher “the Oracle.” Thus through the spiritual and physical energy of Othniel, the City of the Book immediately becomes Debir the Oracle. An Oracle is simply a Voice.
To all of us before conversion, and alas, to many carnal believers, God’s Word is only a dry Book exercising no vital living power upon the life. But to the open ear of faith, the Book becomes the Oracle, the Voice of the Living God. It required energy, enthusiasm, faith, hope and love on the part of Othniel to transform Kirjath-sepher into Debir. So the reverent student of God’s Book today will find that no formal, lazy or desultory reading of the Book will unlock its secrets and cause one to hear the Voice. That same divine energy of faith, hope and love that spurred Othniel is still necessary. For this, one must be spiritually young. Some day we shall be like Him of whom it is said, “Thou hast the dew of Thy youth.” Why then grow old?
The story is told of a young girl, just engaged, whose fiance asked her if she had ever read a certain book. She knew the book, but it hadn’t looked interesting. She said, “No, why do you ask?” “Because I wrote it” was the reply. As I remember the story, she sat up till the small hours of the morning, and never was a book so fascinating! What made the difference? Just this: now she knew the author. Ought not our Bibles to interest us now that we know the Author, and that we are the beneficiaries of His will and Testaments?
Generations and centuries after, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is seen with a book in the pierced hand of Omnipotence, and that hand prevails to open the Book and to unloose its seven seals. In that hand, the words of prediction become the fearful realities of the wrath of God upon a guilty world in general and an apostate Christendom in particular. Of all this, Othniel’s deeds are a figure.
Othniel not only got Achsah, but also “the upper springs and the nether springs.” Inasmuch as “All my springs are in Thee,” they must represent Christ, the never failing Stream of Refreshment for His people. But spiritually they are seen again in Psalm 78:15, “He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.” This must have been a low bedrock, and seems to refer to Exodus 17:6, “Thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it,” that is, bubbling up out of a low bedrock in a life-giving stream for Israel’s thousands. But in v. 16, it says, “He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.” This must be a great high rock, and apparently refers to Numbers 20:11, that other and disobedient smiting of the rock, where “Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly,” flowing down in a refreshing river.
Thus we have the nether and upper springs of Judges 1 in these two rocks of Psalm 78:15-16, the one a low bedrock, the other a great high rock, and that Rock, says Paul, is Christ. So that Othniel’s nether and upper springs are a smitten Christ in humiliation, but now Christ in glory. But we can only enjoy these blessed springs when Kirjathsepher becomes Debir, when, to the ear of faith, the Written Word is transformed into the Living Word of the eternal Son. We may spend time on many things that are legitimate, but we may spend so much time as to abuse what should have been used for the reading of the Word, and then we shall find our time has indeed been wasted time! Time spent on the Word is never so, and herein lies an affectionate challenge to “Christian Youth” of the real variety.