Today’s Reading: Judges 3:31-5:31
SHAMGAR, NINJA WARRIOR
So if the book of Judges can be compared to a comic book full of superhero stories, our next hero is Shamgar son of Anath. God used this man to rescue Israel next. The writer of Judges does not give us much information about Shamgar except to say that he once killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad. I had no idea what that was but, thanks to my Google search, I found out it is a long sharp stick used to prod animals. Sounds like Shamgar had some mean NINJA moves! Now, that’s quite a claim to fame!
But the Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight and he turned them over to King Jabin of Hazor and his commander Sisera, who ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for 20 years. Scripture says: Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help (Judges 4:3). Did it take them 20 years to cry out to the Lord for help or 20 years for Him to answer their cry for help? The way it is written it seems like there was a long delay before they even asked.
Lord, forgive me for all the times I try to handle things on my own for a while before I finally give up and ask You for help! I do not want to delay my recognition that I am helpless on my own. I KNOW I need you every day, in every situation!
DEBORAH, WONDER WOMAN
The next average-person-turned-superhero is Deborah – the Bible’s Wonder Woman. This is the first time we hear in Scripture of a woman placed in a formal leadership position. She would sit under the Palm of Deborah and people would come to her for judgment. Obviously God had given her the gift of wisdom and trusted her with great responsibility. Deborah must have also strategically positioned herself in God’s presence because she heard from Him. He gave her a message to give to Barak, calling him to lead a group of 10,000 warriors into battle to set the people free of their current oppression.
One thing that stands out to me about this co-hero, Barak, is that he put conditions on his obedience to God’s call on his life. He would go into battle, just as God asked, but only if Deborah went with him. Does this hit close to home for anyone else? Yes, Lord, I’ll do what you ask as long as… I’ll obey if you… I want to trust you, but…
Lord, forgive me for all the times I have put conditions on my obedience to your call. Forgive me for my selfish desire to be comfortable while following your plan. Give me the strength to always say “yes” and never “yes, as long as…”
“Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.” – Judges 4:9
At first I thought Deborah was talking about herself, but as we read on we see that the battle was finished by a woman named Jael. Although Jael was not in leadership and was what we would maybe now call a “stay-at-home mom”, God strategically positioned her to do great things. He saw worth and value in a woman whom the current culture did not value.
When Barak led the warriors into battle, God caused Sisera and his warriors to go into a panic. Sisera leaped from his chariot and escaped on foot to the home of Jael, because her husband was a friend of King Jabin. She invited him into the tent. He asked for water and she gave him milk. He laid down, exhausted from his flight, and she covered him with a blanket while she took watch for anyone approaching.
As soon as he fell into a deep sleep, Jael took action. She saw that God had strategically positioned her and she was up for this opportunity to let God do SUPER THINGS through her. I believe God must have given Jael some extra strength as she picked up the tent peg and hammer, walked across the tent, and placed the end of the peg on Sisera’s temple. I believe God must have given her extra courage when she drove the tent peg into his skull, killing him and finishing the battle God had called the Israelites into.
So on that day Israel saw GOD DEFEAT Jabin, the Canaanite king. And from that time on Israel became stronger and stronger against King Jabin until they finally destroyed him. – Judges 4:23-24
Deborah and Barak led the people of Israel in celebration of this victory. They recognized that when God marched across the battlefield, the earth trembled; when God was present, the mountains quaked. The people of Israel were living in fear until Deborah “arose as a mother for Israel” (5:7). I love it! The description of this superhero was “mother” – perfect! My mother is definitely a superhero in my eyes so I get this connection.
The song of celebration continues:
Listen to the village musicians gathered at the watering holes.
They recount the righteous victories of the Lord and the victories of his villagers in Israel.
THEN the people of the Lord marched down to the city gates. – Judges 5:11
What a great idea – what a great example! Before entering into a battle God has called us to fight, let’s look back and remind ourselves of the many victories God has performed in the past. The God of our PAST struggles is the God of our CURRENT battles and our FUTURE victories.
Lord, we strategically position ourselves in your presence this morning. Fill us with your strength and your courage. We are ready to do what you have asked us to do. Lord, thank you for being the source of victory in our life. We trust you and we obediently follow you today. Amen.