Men rejoicing with women

Rejoicing Women - Third in a Series

continued from previous post

The entire army of Sisera was defeated by Barak and his men who had no horses! But Sisera fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. (Jdg 4:16-17)

Evidently, Jael was not kindly disposed to Sisera. Her loyalties were with the Israelites, even though the Kenite family was on good terms with the Canaanites (Jdg 4:17).

After giving him milk to drink and covering him so he could nap, she pretended to guard his hiding place, but turned on him shortly by driving a tent peg into his temple as he slept. He died. (Jdg 4:21) So when Barak reached her tent in his pursuit of Sisera, she showed him the dead man.

These were the events recounted in Deborah's song, which Barak joined in singing.

The song begins with PRAISE: Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves. Here O ye kings; give ear O ye princes; I, even I will sing unto the Lord… (Jdg 5:2, 3)

Then Deborah turned in thought to Israel's entry to the Land in the days of Moses. LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water. (Jdg 5:4)

The Lord began ushering his own into Canaan as they went around Mount Seir that belonged to Edom. The victory over the Amorites, just past Seir, (Num 21:21-25) trumpeted to the nations that God's people were entering — the earth trembled!

She also recalled the fiery mountain on which God's Law was delivered to Moses…The mountains melted from before the LORD, [even] that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel. (vs 5) (Deut 5:22, 23)

This was the heritage that had been forgotten so that Israel was decimated. Deborah described the desolations: In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways. The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel. They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel? (Jdg 5:6-8)

Evidently, though Shamgar had fought successfully against some Philistines (Jdg 3:31), the land was not delivered from evil. John Gill's commentary describes the promised land at that time:

the public roads were so infested with thieves and robbers, who stopped all they met with, and robbed them of what they had, that travellers and merchants with their carriages were obliged either to quit their employments, and not travel at all; or, if they did, were obliged to go in private roads, and roundabout ways, to keep clear of those rapparees the highways and public roads abounded with. Not only did those Canaanitish robbers go upon the highway, and robbed all they met with, which made travelling difficult and dangerous; but entered into the villages and unwalled towns, and broke into houses and plundered them; so that the inhabitants of them were obliged to quit their dwellings, and go into the fortified cities for security; by which means the villages were left empty, and in time fell to ruin, and ceased: for they were the villages which belonged to the Israelites that were plundered, and not those that belonged to any of the Canaanites; and these were the unhappy circumstances Israel were under. (studylight.org, ibid, 1-9-13 post)

The problem was, the Hebrews had been unfaithful to the Lord (Jdg 5:8). They had thus lost the capacity to defend their lives; few had shields or spears. But from this wreckage of their society, God raised up Deborah who saw herself as a mother, loving God's children by administering his judgments.

In her song, she is inspired as a leader to praise the faithful men who stood up for the Lord and to exhort those who drew back and did not assist in defeating Sisera. Let it be known who is on the Lord's side!

Though there were prancing of their mighty ones, (Jdg 5:22) yet the Lord gave Barak the victory, and Jael was to be thanked for ending Sisera's terrible crimes. According to Judges 5:27, he fell down at Jael's feet; her blow to his head did not at first kill him, but it was enough.

Deborah's song of rejoicing ends with these beautiful words, So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years.

Like Deborah, let us strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, (Rev 3:2) and we shall be as that sun.

The woman saw a sword...

Rejoicing Women - Second in a Series

Judges 5 begins, Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam, however, it soon becomes clear that it is her song. Barak joins with her but does not phrase it. Let's look at Judges 4 to understand why.

Early in the book of Judges, after being delivered from many enemies by three judges, Othniel, Ehud and Shamgar, roughly two centuries after the death of Moses and one century before Israel's last judge, Samuel, would rule, a strange occurrence is introduced: A woman is judging Israel under the shade of her own palm tree (Jdg 4:4, 5).

Evidently leadership in proclaiming God's Word had fallen to a woman, an unusual occurrence. In any case God honored her, which some commentators view as his way of provoking the men to be ashamed of themselves for their lack of desire to serve the Lord.

As Deborah sat beneath her private palm judging the Hebrews, a time came when she sent for Barak and charged him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? (Jdg 4:6)

Evidently Barak had received a word from God to go to war and Deborah was assuring him. He lacked confidence even though the Lord had stated he would deliver Sisera, captain of the Canaanite army, into his hand. (Jdg 4:7) So he said to Deborah, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go, but not if you don't. (Jdg 4:8)

She agreed to go but prophesied, The journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honor; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. (Jdg 4:9) She knew that Barak ought to look to the Lord, not to her.

So Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh and there were 10,000 men, and Deborah (Jdg 4:10). It is also noted that Heber the Kenite, a relation of Moses by marriage, was living in the area and that his kin helped Sisera by showing him that Barak had stationed his army at mount Tabor (Jdg 4:11).

Sisera gathered 900 chariots of iron and his troops. A historian, Josephus (ref) states that his army consisted of 3,000 infantry and 10,000 calvary besides the iron chariots. In an excellent commentary, John Gill has written this of the chariots: (ibid)

...chariots which carried scythes at the side of them, fastened to the orbs of the wheels, and were on both sides; and in some stood out ten cubits which running furiously among the infantry, cut them to pieces in a terrible manner; of which Cyrus had in his army at first but an hundred, afterwards increased to three hundred; and yet here a petty prince of Canaan had nine hundred of them.

Deborah said to Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak descended mount Tabor followed by his 10,000 troops.

Seeing the active obedience of his people, the Lord discomfitted their enemies by the edge of his sword so that Sisera jumped from his chariot, and then Barak pursued his troops. (Jdg 4:15-16)

Today, when we are called to defeat terrifying enemies against all odds, our Lord still goes before us with his sword, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God Eph 6:17, our Bible. This word has power to clear our way, strengthen us, and give us the victory. The sword of the Lord driving, reaching, polished, pure, strong, tested, reflecting the light of a thousand suns, going before Barak all the way down the mountain, pictures the Word as our shield and defense (Prov 30:5; Mat 4:4).

to be continued

Women Rejoicing with Men

Rejoicing Women - First in a Series

Rejoice always (IThess 5:16), rejoice in the Lord always (Phil 4:4), rejoice whatever your circumstances (Jas 1:9; Hab 3:18), rejoice when you suffer for Christ (1 Peter 4:13); when you rejoice, there is great glory! (Prov 28:12). Those who seek the Lord shall rejoice (Ps 105:3); particularly, the righteous are to rejoice, and to rejoice together in the place where God is worshipped (Deut 12:12; 16:11) and in remembrance of his mighty works of deliverance (Lev 23:40; Deut 27:7).

Fullness of joy in Christ is a healing feeling. It is not as the fleeting joy that watching sports or movies may furnish, nor even as the joy of personal achievement. A "winner" may still have a cold heart, but Christian rejoicing has to do with a warm heart. We cannot be lukewarm and rejoice.

Let's look at instances of women rejoicing in Scripture. What do these stories teach us today? The first story is Miriam's as she led women in song.

Miriam, the sister of Moses, watched over him when his mother set him in an ark near the river's edge, to hide him from Pharaoh who had ordered his midwives to kill all the Hebrew male babies. When Pharaoh's daughter sought to keep him alive, Miriam found a wet nurse for her, Moses' own mother.

Miriam was a prophetess (Ex 15:20) who spoke for the Lord, which at one time swelled her head in opposition to Moses (Num 12:2), but her rejoicing in Exodus 15 echoes her brother's words. He led the men in song after the Lord saved their lives by heaving the parted waters of the Red Sea over the Egyptians as they pursued the Hebrews to the death: I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.(Ex 15:1)

Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. (Ex 15:21) She led all the women in song and dance with a timbrel in her hand.

When good men rejoice and praise God for his help and salvation, good women should testify in response. If you have good men in your life, be supportive, and rejoice when they rejoice, and weep when they weep (Rom 12:15).

But what if you have bad men in your life? Know that the Lord sees you and in time will deliver you. He waits in order to be gracious to you (Is 30:18).

Let all rejoice that in Christ There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).

Christian sisters are not covered in black garb, but with all God's men we are invited to exchange the spirit of heaviness for the garment of praise (Is 61:3).

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all [ye that are] upright in heart (Psa 32:11).

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, Rejoice (Phil 4:4).

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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