In verse 19 of chapter one, the Bible says they “could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” There was a time when their best efforts were not enough and they “could not,” at that moment, defeat their foes. Then when they could drive them out, “When Israel was strong,” they would not drive them out.
As their physical strengths grew and their military experience expanded they began to use their strengths for their own endeavors. God had been giving them victory and chasing the enemy before them but now that they are strong they see another opportunity. We can make good use of these people, we have a business opportunity here. So the strength given to them by God, to drive out these people is used to do the very opposite.
Dear Christian, has there ever been a time when you could not serve God as courageously as you wanted? When to him you cried for strength and victory? Did he grant that strength needed? Perhaps you were so financially weak that you could not give as you wanted, you honestly wanted to support missions more, give more, and help others more. So you prayed and God answered. What are you doing now that you are strong? Perhaps you sought the Lord for talents to serve him with, what are you doing with those talents?
I am reminded of the Lord's words to Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Israel was stronger when they were weak. The Book of Joshua opens with a rag-tag group of wandering brick masons who know very little about war and yet they go on to conquer. Judges open with a strong nation of warriors that goes on to be conquered. Conquered by their own strengths sadly. Strengths misused that is. Strength that serves self instead of God.
Do you remember Paul's words in the New Testament? “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition.” This is as much a reality for us in the church as it was for them in Israel. Dear Christian, the financial strength he gave you, is it strength spent for his work or yours? What of those talents he gave you? Do you spend them on him or you? Good intentions won’t be weighed on judgment day, but our talents will be. Don’t be defeated by your own God-given strengths as did Israel, when they used them to embrace what God had said dispel. Utterly cast out those Idols that will steal your heart, You may think that you have them under your control, but in a few chapters, you’ll find out, Like Israel, that you are under their control. Just as God gives strength, he removes it. Be a good steward of the strengths God has given you, use your strength to cast out the Idols in your Cannan. If you will not when you are strong, you will when you are weak.