Title: Judges 4-5. Deborah's song, part 5.
Announcements / opening prayer:
We have begun part 2: an explanation of the conflict and the victory.
JDG 5:12 "Awake, awake, Deborah; Awake, awake, sing a song! Arise, Barak, and take away your captives, O son of Abinoam.
JDG 5:13 "Then survivors came down to the nobles; The people of the Lord came down to me as warriors.
"There came down a remnant of nobles. Among the brave Jehovah Himself went against the foe." (corrected translation)
She describes the streaming of the brave men of the nation down from the mountains, to fight the enemy with Barak and Deborah in the valley of Jezreel; though the whole nation did not raise as one man against its oppressors, but only a remnant of the noble and brave in the nation, with whom Jehovah went into the battle.
It is Jehovah who summons the Canaanites to war.
Of those who came out of their hiding places in the hills of their respective territories, the brave men from the tribes that joined the battle are celebrated.
JDG 5:14 "From Ephraim those whose root is in Amalek came down, Following you, Benjamin, with your peoples; From Machir commanders came down, And from Zebulun those who wield the staff of office.
Benjamin is just south of Ephraim and so they are seen as following Ephraim north to the plain of Jezreel.
Machir, only son of Manasseh, refers to Western Manasseh, whereas Gilead, Manasseh's grandson, is used to refer to Eastern Manasseh.
This is the means that the Bible uses to distinguish the two. Though they are of the same tribe, the Jordan river divided their territories, and although they should have stayed unified, the two became like separate tribes.
Zebulun is then mentioned as also joining the war, specifically their leaders, "those who wield the staff of office."
JDG 5:15 "And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; As was Issachar, so was Barak; Into the valley they rushed at his heels; Among the divisions of Reuben There were great resolves of heart.
It may be that the princes of Issachar were protective escorts of Deborah and may have had their place in the battle array next to Barak, but this is conjecture.
No one quite knows the meaning of this association of Issachar with Deborah and Barak.
The last part of vs. 15 should be with vs. 16 in that it deals with Reuben.
Reuben was resolute ["great resolves of heart"], but resolute in his refusal to participate.
JDG 5:16 " Why did you sit among the sheepfolds, To hear the piping for the flocks? Among the divisions [brooks] of Reuben There were great searchings of heart.
Reuben is pictured as sitting around the campfire entertained by musicians, indifferent to the plight of his brethren. The irony is very apparent, they prefer to hear the bleating of the flocks and the piping of the shepherds, instead of the blast of the war-trumpets.
"Among the brooksstreams [not "divisions"] of Reuben" - The territory of Reuben, which was celebrated for its splendid pastures, must have abounded in brooks.
If you remember, Reuben asked Moses if they could settle this land after the Jews had defeated Sihon and Og, the Amorite kings who possessed it, before they crossed the Jordan River. They immediately fell in love with its beauty as well as the fact that it had abundant grazing ground. It was supplied with plenty of water through many brooks and streams (Oregonians call them cricks).
Deborah asks in amazement, "Why do you sit among the streams of your plush land that God graciously granted you and only discuss the war?"
God had blessed them and now came the call to fight against those who would destroy all of God's blessings and every aspect of His name if they could, and Reuben, the tribe of the first born son of Jacob, which in itself should give them the pride of leadership, decides to remain in their comfortable life, away from the war, on the other side of the Jordan, and only talk about it.
We never remain still in the spiritual life. We are always growing in maturity. We get comfortable in a certain "place" when moving on means upending some things.
By "place" I don't mean physical location, although it can mean that. The place in our souls can become comfortable enough that we don't want any change or any more change. We are to be comfortable for we are comforted by God, but there is so much growing to do. We are not to become complacent with ignorance or immaturity. If we become complacent in an immature place, that means that we are willing to put up with a level of immaturity and ignorance and that we don't want to grow anymore, but God is not comfortable with that. Amazingly, we can be perfectly comfortable with our level of maturity at the moment while knowing that we still must learn and grow.
God will call us to take leaps of faith that we have never faced before and in our hearts we fear it will upend the comfortable little cottage we have set up in our souls, and it most certainly will, but the little cottage must be expanded and built upon. Reuben is comfortable and they don't want to risk upsetting that.
This same phenomenon will happen to all of Israel after the celebrations of the victory have died down and they return to their lives in peace. The land is still filled with Canaanites here and there, Philistines, Phoenicians, and other Canaanite tribes live in various places, but after what happened to the northern Canaanite kings in Deborah and Barak's war, no one dares come against Israel and there is peace for forty years. What should the Jews do in regards to the Canaanites during this time? By God's command, bring war to their gates and drive them out completely and lay claim to all the land that God graciously allotted to them. But instead they sit in comfort and luxury and prefer rather to exact tribute from the Canaanites while they live among them. And as they do, they intermarry with them and more and more half Jew - half Canaanite children are born who find no affinity to the covenant of Abraham and are drawn to the Baal cult and eventually so are their families and neighbors and over time the country in engrossed in idolatry all over again.
When comfort comes into conflict with the will of God, the decision is obvious and so are the consequences.
In the phrase, "There were great searchings of heart," He is also pictured as intensely considering whether he should join the war, but then still doing nothing.
They held meetings, passed great resolutions, but it led to no practical result; and at length they preferred to remain quietly at home in their own comfortable pastoral life.
Reuben talked about joining the war ("searchings of heart") but then still did nothing. Words without action.
Reuben's leaders acted like politicians and talked about whether they should join or not, but you can't talk the enemy to death, nor do you do the right thing by only talking about it. Talk is cheap when not followed by action.
Christians can talk about what it means to walk in the manner of the Lord, but that means nothing if they don't actually do it. And if you do it, then you don't have to talk about it.
Remember what is was that made the difference between the man who built his house on the rock and the one who built on the sand in our Lord's illustration.
MAT 7:24 … 26
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. … And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand."
JDG 5:17 " Gilead remained across the Jordan; And why did Dan stay in ships? Asher sat at the seashore, And remained by its landings.