Sunday, October 31, 2010

Judges 4, 5 Deborah's Song

Yael Killing Sisera, by Palma the Younger.Image via Wikipedia
When Israel turned away from worshipping God, Jabin, a king of Canaan, oppressed them for twenty years.  When Israel cried out to God for deliverance from Jabin, God responded through the prophetess Deborah who was Israel’s leader at that time. 

While Deborah was settling disputes between people, God instructed her to send for Barak, son of Abinoam. Once he arrived, she related God’s Word to him – that God would be with him as he led ten thousand men into battle.  But Barak demonstrated a lack of faith in God when he replied that he would go into battle only if she accompanied him.  It would seem that he regarded Deborah as some sort of good luck talisman rather than as the mouthpiece of the Living God. 

As Deborah agreed to go with Barak, she also informed him that the honor of capturing General Sisera of Jabin’s army would not go to him but to a woman.  In an immediate fulfillment of this prophecy, Jael, Heber’s wife, assassinated Sisera.

Deborah, the fourth leader and judge over Israel, led a successful military campaign against a formidable foe.  Her strength in settling small disputes as well as deciding huge concerns of national significance was entirely founded in her conviction of who God was.  Spending time with God and taking Him at His Word, Deborah grew to love God deeply.  That she probably spent a good part of her adult years politically oppressed by a hostile nation in the land that God promised to Israel, did not persuade her to look away from the God.  Even though times were tough, she clung to her knowledge of God.

After the battle account, Scripture records the Song of Deborah.  Before this, the only other song that is recorded is the Song of Moses in Exodus 15.  Defining song as a short, metrical composition intended to be vocalized, is similar to defining a brain as a series of physiological functions and interactions.  Both miss the magic and spirit behind the perceived reality.  Deborah’s composition jubilantly exploded out of her being; it welled up out of her love for God, the King of Israel; it reflected her knowledge of the Creator.

Because Deborah saw every aspect of the battle as having God’s hand in it, she was able to praise God for His love for Israel; for His relationship to Israel; for His provision for Israel.  Deborah proclaimed in song that God oversaw every minute detail of that battle to ensure Israel’s victory. Clearly, to Deborah this victory was an astounding achievement which could only have happened through God’s hand.   She composed this hymn of praise so that Israel would remember how God, yet again, acted on their behalf because He chose them and loved them.

And appropriately, her song ended with the words, “But may they who love You, be like the sun when it rises in its strength.”  Judges 5:31  In the desert, the sun is a powerful, blazing force that brings death through its scorching heat to those who aren’t protected from it.  Deborah prayed that Israel would continue to love God so that they might  prevail against enemies. 
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