“‘So perish all your enemies, O LORD!
But may your friends be like the sun as it rises in its might.’
“And the land had rest forty years.”
~Judges 5:31 (NRSV).
Such important theology is presented at the reflection of Judge and prophetess, Deborah, post successful embarkation against Sisera, commander of the Canaanite army, the oppressor over the Israelites of twenty years at the hand of Jabin, King of Canaan.
Judges 5 is the poetic retelling of the events of Judges 4.
The cowardice of Barak and Sisera is contrasted with the faith and courage of Deborah and Jael — wife of foreigner, Keber.
There are many lessons to be gleaned. Let’s focus on one: loyalty (faithfulness) quickly becomes courage, by mode of a different language. Then, God-sponsored victory.
Deborah’s Vision and Encouragement of Barak
To say Deborah goaded Barak to action might state the obvious, but it was her vision and wisdom that really oversaw the imminence of, and brought to being, the Lord’s victory.
Sometimes we need to push people, ever so gently, toward the ‘land’ for which God is delivering them. It’s also a personal encouragement to take the leaps of faith for which we’re being compelled to take, but those we timidly repress.
When numbers and safety are on our side — the favour of God pressing in — we take the advantage in faith. In faithfulness, we must take courage.
The initiative is taken and the victory pressed all the way home! It’s ours.
Jael’s Cunning is Advocate for Equity and Fairness
Of all places the fleeing warrior, Sisera, might find he comes upon unassuming Jael in her tent. His raping, pillaging name has preceded him. She knows he’s not a good man — but one now desperate for sanctuary.
Jael meets Sisera’s need — for a thirst-quenching drink and rest — and then some!
Sisera then falls for a deadly trap; one not-so-much ordered — but sanctioned — by the Lord, at Jael’s opportune hand.
She knows that the tyranny of
We, too, have those self-same opportunities. We don’t need to ‘hear’ from God so as to take captive land or ascendency. No, we take the action we can; we do it in the Lord’s name.
For the tyrannies that find their bombastic pleasure in the realm of our domain, we have a duty upon notice of discerned opportunity. Great faith is one to act for God without specific direction; decisiveness will be rewarded.
The final test of the Lord’s reign is peace. Are we, with loyalty and courage, bringing the victory of peace to bear over our situations?
Of both genders concerned, it is women — like Deborah and Jael (and you, or your partner) — that exemplify the capacity for loyalty to God and moral courage to remain steadfast, doing what must be done.
Leadership is not, and never was, a gender exclusive skill-set.
Eternally, Judges 4-5 is encouraging all women, and the undermined, to rise up for the Lord — in faithfulness, courage and, ultimately, victory.
In such a way, is God rousing you to this?
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
Graphic Credit: Cédric Sacilotto, Courage et devouement, 2007.