10: 6 – 18 reads like a love story. The Israelites forsake God and worship other gods, the gods of the people around them. Then, when they were being oppressed, they cried out to God, that they were sorry for their sins, begging him to save them.
God told them to go to the gods they prostituted with for help, saying ““When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands?But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you.Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!”
But, they were truly contrite (or truly desperate) because they put away all their false gods and kept crying to him for help. They said, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” until, the passage says, God “could bear Israel’s misery no longer”.
While, crying to God, the people were not lazy. The leaders promised that anyone who lead the attack against the Ammonites (their oppressors) would be king of Gilead. So, they were doing their best. I suppose, they simply realized that they were helpless if God did not help them.