Chris Rice has a song titled, Prone to Wander. The lyrics read: "How can I be so prone to wander, so prone to leave you, so prone to die? How can you be so full of mercy, you race to meet me, bring me back to life." Those lyrics seem awfully fitting to the story we read in the first two chapters of Judges. The Israelites, when without a leader, wandered off and whored themselves to other gods. Chapter two says that God had pity on them and raised up judges to lead them, but with the death of each judge came the death of their commitment to the Lord until the next judge arrived on the scene.
For me, it's easy to read this stuff and think, "you stupid Israelites, what in the world is the matter with you?" But then I have to ask myself if I would have been any different than they. If I was in their shoes, would I have followed God and rid the land of foreign peoples? I'd like to think I would have done so, but I don't know whether I actually would have or not. Following God is not easy, especially in the midst of challenging circumstances. Like any loving father who disciplines his children, the Lord told the Israelites that they would face punishments for their actions. But in His pity, the Lord also provided the judges to lead them back on the right path.
Thank goodness that, though we are prone to wander, too, the Lord's mercy is enormous, and He gives us more than one chance to try again! He provides ways for us to get back on the right path, and He refines us into the people He wants us to be. We serve an incredible God!