Thursday, September 6, 2007

Judges 5:3

3 "Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
I will sing to the LORD, I will sing;
I will make music to the LORD, the God of Israel.

The Children of Israel, led by Joshua, crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land in 1406 BC. Led by the LORD, they drove out many great and powerful nations and were now, finally, at rest. After Joshua's death, however, the Children of Israel quickly seemed to forget to do everything God had commanded them, even though under Joshua, they were gung ho to follow God and Joshua. Tribe after tribe did not drive out the Canaanites completely, which angered the LORD so much that he sent the angel of the LORD to deliver the horrible news that He would not drive out the Canaanites for them anymore. They, the Canaanites, would be thorns in their sides and their gods would be a snare to the Children of Israel.

A generation passed. And the next generation grew up not knowing the LORD or what He had done for Israel. All of Israel did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. In His anger, God handed them over to raiders, let them be plundered, sold them to enemies, and made sure they were defeated. What an awful place it is to Have God working against you.

But God still had compassion. He raised up judges to save them from the raiders. While the Judges lived, God blessed the Children of Israel. But after the Judge died, the people returned to their corrupt ways and followed the false gods of the Canaanites. This cycle continued for 325 years during the period of the Judges (1375-1050 BC). The twelve Judges of Israel are as follows:
  1. Othniel
  2. Ehud
  3. Shamgar (minor)
  4. Deborah
  5. Gideon
  6. Tola (minor)
  7. Jair (minor)
  8. Jephthah
  9. Ibzan (minor)
  10. Elon (minor)
  11. Abdon (minor)
  12. Samson
In today's "sing" reading (Judges 5:3) the Children of Israel had fallen into the hands of Jabin, the King of Canaan, and the commander of his army, Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots. Deborah, a prophetess, was leading Israel at that time (1209-1169 BC). Deborah delivered this message to Barak (whose name means "thunderbolt" and who is named among the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11:32): "The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.' " But Barak was a typical guy and said he would only do it if Deborah went with him. She reluctantly agreed, but she told him that the honor of the victory would be hers because of the way he was acting.

God gave the Canaanite army into the hands of Barak. All the troups of Sisera fell by the sword. Not a man was left–except Sisera himself, who fled on foot to an ally's tent. There he asked to be hidden, which Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, was all too eager to do. She not only hid him in her tent, but let him fall asleep there as well. While he was sleeping, she drove a tent peg through his temple with a hammer. Jael found Barak and showed him that she had killed Sisera for him.

The Song of Deborah that is recorded in Judges 5 serves two purposes:
  1. It is a record of the battle of Deborah and Barak vs. Sisera, and
  2. It recites "the righteous acts of the LORD."
Isn't that why God gave us the ability to sing? To praise him with our voices and to remember what He has done for us?

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