Again the children of Israel find themselves thoroughly defeated, due to the death of their leader (Ehud – Judges 4:1) and their defiant disobedience. This time they’re sold into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan, whose commander over his army was Sisera.
You’ll never guess what happened next?
Judges 4:3 (NKJV) “And the children of Israel cried out to the LORD; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel.”
It’s the same cycle!
God went on to deliver Israel through a prophetess who was judging Israel at the time, Deborah; and under the military leadership of Barak.
Many Bible teachers tell us the reason Deborah was judging Israel at this time was because there wasn’t a man in Israel willing to step up to the plate. That may be true considering the reaction of Barak. He said he wouldn’t lead without Deborah’s presence (Judges 4:8).
Either way this is still a section of Scripture elevating women to places of prominence. Deborah was a prophetess and a judge (Judges 4:4) and a woman by the name of Jael was the one used to bring the final death blow to Israel’s arch enemy, Jabin (Judges 4:21).
Deborah and Barak went on to write and sing a song – giving God all the glory, and at the same time acknowledging the human response (responsibility).
Notice the commendation to leaders, leading, willing to offer themselves for the service of the LORD (Judges 5:2, 9). They came from Ephraim, Benjamin, Zebulun, Issachar, Reuben, and Naphtali.
The song also mentions those of Israel who didn’t fight in the battle, people from Gilead and Dan.
God sees it all!
Their enemies were formidable but it mattered not, for the LORD came down and fought for them against the mighty (Judges 5:13).
The song mentions the woman “warrior” Jael who pierced the head of Sisera; his mother’s assumptions were tragically wrong, her son was not finding and dividing the spoil, he wasn’t having “fun” with a girl or two, collecting more clothing. Sisera, the man with nine hundred chariots was dead.
Israel was growing stronger and stronger (Judges 4:24) – and they prayed that prayer, with results:
Judges 5:31 (NKJV) “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD! But let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full strength.” So the land had rest for forty years.” (see also Provers 4:18)
In verses 35-38 Jesus reveals a lesson learned from their last “Missionary Journey,” how God indeed was their provider and protector. Now, with that settled in their hearts, He instructs the guys that they are not to test God on that. Go ahead and make sure you have enough funds and the necessary protection you need for life and ministry.
Jesus went on to pray.
The Gospels tell us that Peter, James, and John were to pray with Him further. One of the most important prayers of all is found in Luke 22:40, “…pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Unfortunately they (like us so often) fell asleep.
Jesus prayed for the cup to pass. Why did He pray this? The suffering was the start of it, the sin was a part of it, but the separation from the Father was the heart of it.
He prayed so earnestly that He sweat drops of blood; hematidrosis is a medical condition that takes place under extreme stress, when the blood enters into and out of the sweat pores. Sadly, while Jesus was praying, the guys were not doing the same, they were not watching, they were sleeping. Even been there? I wonder how many times have I fallen because, I’ve fallen asleep…I didn’t pray as I should have?
Jesus was betrayed with a kiss, and arrested, but not before He healed the ear of His enemy. Sounds a lot like the grace of God.
The children of Israel had been defeated, perhaps they now find themselves in captivity. The Psalmist cries for vengeance and questions God, “LORD, how long?”
Their persecutors thought that God didn’t hear or see, but can the Maker of the ears and eyes not see? Of course He can, and He will correct them.
The Psalmist knew enough of the Bible to know that somehow, someway, someday, God would work it out for good, and hence He writes:
Psalm 94:12 (NKJV) “Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O LORD, and teach out of Your law.”
The Psalmist knew (as we should) that the LORD would cut them off in their own wickedness; the LORD would cut them (their enemies ) off. He will do the same to our enemies!
V. 3 – NLT – A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him, but the words of the wise keep them safe.
That’s one view of this passage, where your trash talk leads to Divine discipline from God – and fights and blows from others.
Another way of looking at this passage is that our words can be rods we use to beat others.
Job 5:21 mentions the scourge of the tongue.
Psalms 12:3 reveals how the tongue can speak proud things.
Psalm 52:2 (NKJV) “Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.”
How many have been marred, and messed up by the mouths of others? Deeply wounded with words, confused, accused, and verbally abused?
The positive side of this passage is the lips of wise, which brings preservation. Ultimately we know, good words of wisdom are good for us, and they’re good for others.
V. 4 – NLT – Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.
Eventually this became one of my favorite verses, because I have a little bit of OCD (or at least I had it at one time). I wanted everything to be nice and neat; completely clean, and zero clutter.
Not anymore, I’ve learned to surrender that to God…because we need the increase that comes from the strength of spiritual workers – way beyond our need for a clean building.
If no one shows up – we’ll having nothing to clean up – but I’d rather have people show up, to increase…and grow up. I’d rather have saints in the seats even though it means that inevitably there will be stains on those seats.
If there are kids in the congregation, then there will probably be cookie crumbs on the carpet – that’s ok we’ll vacuum it up. I’d much rather have a dirty trough, a mess to clean up after, crumbs on the carpet, trashcans to empty, (even restrooms to clean) then have everything STAY clean all the time, that would mean no one is here.
But where there are Christian people, the will be purpose, and productivity, there will also be the best – a harvest!
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.