My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the Lord. — Judges 5:9
Challenge yourself! How many people can you think of who have “offered themselves willingly” in the Lord’s service? Having been blessed with a rich heritage in the Gospel, many examples come to my mind.
There was a man whose responsibilities regularly caused him to be one of the last people to leave the church after the services. As his wife sat patiently, she often said, “I used to wait for him while he was at the tavern. I’d much rather wait for him at the church!” Both of them were giving of themselves.
A man did without what many of us would consider necessities because he wanted to give as much as he could to help build churches in other countries. Only the Lord knows how many others like him have offered themselves in the same way.
A missionary and his wife left their grandchildren so they could spread the Gospel in another land. Before the time of digital cameras and email, they missed many of their grandchildren’s “big events” — first words, first steps, school awards, and Sunday school specials. However, they were connected to God in prayer, naming each child and grandchild daily in His presence. What a willing offering!
Look around you and you will see many who give of themselves willingly. The church janitor who checks the building after every function and service, gives of himself. The man who comes after work to vacuum the sanctuary carpet, the women who make food for grieving families, the Sunday school teachers who encourage their students by visiting their homes, the mother who drives miles out of her way to pick up a family for Sunday school, and the list goes on.
It is much easier to focus on what we can get than on what we can give. Today’s chapter contains condemnation for those who were lax, lazy, or just consumed with self-interest. Some have caught a vision of the rewards found in making a willing offering of themselves to God. We can learn a lesson from them. We may not feel qualified or that we have something “big” to give. However, God can use even small efforts and acts of kindness if we offer them to Him. Deborah gave leadership and encouragement, Barak gave by following directions, and Jael gave by being brave and resourceful. We can give too. Will we?
In the previous chapter, the Children of Israel had experienced another miraculous deliverance from an overwhelmingly superior foe. For twenty years they had been “mightily” oppressed by Jabin, king of Canaan.
Many commentaries entitle this fifth chapter of the Book of Judges, “Deborah and Barak’s Song of Thanksgiving,” and rightly so. The title is appropriate because they did give thanks — they had the right formula for continued success when following God. Putting the story of this victory into song helped preserve it for future generations. Written in poetic form, the excitement of the triumph can be felt.
This song they sang contains other items in addition to praise to God. Verse 6 indicates that the highways were not safe. Verse 8 shows that Israel had almost no weaponry. There was a call to a continued leadership and the accepting of responsibility (verses 12-13). Also, there was commendation for those who answered the call written of in the previous chapter, and condemnation and even a curse to those who, for whatever reasons, failed to answer the call to battle. The worst rebuke was for the inhabitants of Meroz, which were part of Barak’s own tribe.
Verse 21 sheds more light on how the victory was accomplished. The Israelites fought the Canaanites near Megiddo. Although it was the dry season, God sent rain that made the Kishon River a torrent. There was so much water that the Canaanites had to leave their chariots.
The song clearly indicates that Jael made Sisera think he was safe when he was not, and Jael is praised as a heroine. The phrase “smote off his head” means that Jael crushed his head. At the end of the song, the authors surmised how Sisera’s mother mourned. The Canaanites had expected the Israelite women to be the ones who mourned, but God had turned the situation around.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. Conditions during the period of the judges
B. The judges of the period
4. Deborah and Barak
d. Israel’s victory song by Deborah (5:1-31)
(1) The praise for Jehovah’s deliverance (5:1-5)
(2) The condition of the people in bondage (5:6-11)
(3) The deliverance of the people (5:12-31)
(a) Israel’s approaching army (5:12-19)
(b) The battle against Sisera (5:20-23)
(c) The death of Sisera (5:24-27)
(d) The final victory and Israel’s rest (5:28-31)
The call to duty for the Lord should be first and foremost in our lives at all times. If we make a willing offering to do what He wants us to do, God will give us victory no matter what our situation is.