In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)
During the time of the Judges Israel was something like a confederation of tribes and cities. While a study of the word suggests the people maintained a ethnic/religious identity, they had yet to be fused into what we understand as the nation of Israel. The people lived close to the land, authority seems most likely to have been community based and situational as opposed to central and progressive, and enemies could have been found on every front. It appears democratic in the good sense of local determination, yet democratic in the bad sense that the people really could not move forward in a meaningful and positive way. This lasted somewhere close to 400 years. Four hundred years of ambiguity and the people wanted to be lead.
The people wanted to be lead by a man. I am not an Old Testament scholar, so I can be wrong here; but I have to believe the people would have had a familiarity, at least, with the God’s Law (the 10 commandments, Levitical Laws, Moses’ sermons). This period did not begin too long after Moses death, the priesthood seems to have been in order, and oral transfusion was much more powerful prior to paper (never mind that St. Paul is clear that God’s law is written on men’s hearts). Perhaps you see where we are going with this? Ambiguity existed because the people wanted it to be so, not because God was unclear with them.
Find not shame here; does not our own ambiguity in life come from the same place? Do we not want do what is right in our own eyes and ask God to bless us? Do we not want to carry anger, purse money over service, fulfill lustful desires, attempt to satisfy ourselves emotionally with the wrong things and then ask God to bless these paths? Do we not often choose not to know His word, the Bible, because it convicts us of these things?
I present these rhetorical questions in good conscious only because I empathize with all of them. And the issue might not be so much that we do what is right in our own eyes; but the issue might be that we simply find every reason and rationalization that what is right in our own eyes is not against His desire for us. And we often know that it is. We must strive to accept that Jehovah’s desire and way, his Leadership, are breathed clearly and authoritatively into the Bible, the ambiguity is ours.