Daily Thought for: 15th March

DEBORAH: MOTHER IN ISRAEL

Judges 4. 1-9; 5. 1-9 

The state of things in northern Israel at this time is revealed in Deborah’s song, Judges 5. It is a sad picture. We learn the following. (1) ‘The highways . . . unoccupied’, v. 6. It was not safe to travel, except by circuitous ‘byways’. (2) ‘The villages ceased’, v. 7. The people were largely confined to towns, so the fields were probably untilled. (3) ‘War in the gates’, v. 8. There was the breakdown of law and order, and of a settled ‘happy’ way of life. (4) Neither ‘shield’ nor ‘spear’, v. 8 They had no weapons for defence or offence. 

What a pitiful state! Yet they themselves were largely to blame; they had ‘chosen new gods’, v. 8. Thus there was no shield of faith, no breastplate of righteousness, no girdle of truth to protect them; cf. Eph. 6. 10-17. They were well and truly on the defensive ; moreover, there was a lack of men of calibre to turn the situation around. 

It is in this kind of situation that the Lord’s people seek a shepherd, a spiritual guide, and they clearly regarded Deborah as such, as ‘one taught of God’ (KITTO). Thus they sought her out, 4. 5. In this alone is seen her spiritual calibre, but, additionally, Deborah is the only judge prior to Samuel who also was a prophet, 4. 4. She adjudicated between her fellow Israelites, and declared the mind and will of God to them. She had a close personal relationship with the Lord, and a deep personal interest in the Lord’s people. The term ‘mother in Israel’ suggests all this; it is a term unique to Deborah. 

Deborah did not usurp the man’s place: she did not go to the people as Samuel would do, but they came to her; cf. Huldah, 2 Chron. 34. 22-3; she had not disassociated herself from her husband, 4. 4; she did not desire to command an army, v. 6; she was happy for Barak to have the honour of victory, and equally happy for another woman, Jael, to be so honoured. At the end of her song of the overcomers she looks forward to the Lord’s overcoming of evil, acknowledging His place, whilst taking her place, exultantly, with those who love the Lord, who are as the sun in his might, v. 31. 

 

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