JUDGES - CHAPTER 5
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
“Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,”
victory was celebrated by a song of praise to God, but that victory is only a
foreshadowing of Christ’s greater work. We
who have been redeemed by His precious blood surely must give thanks, praise, and
worship to God for that victory won at such cost at Calvary when the Lord Jesus
Christ offered Himself without spot to God, and by that offering bruised the
their deliverance from Egypt, all Israel sang unto the Lord on the shores of the Red
Sea, but Rossier notes that here the only singers mentioned are Deborah and Barak.
Undoubtedly all present joined in Deborah’s song of victory, but the
omissions of Scripture are not to be ignored, and it is significant that indeed here
only two singers are mentioned. God
would remind us of the low state to which Israel had sunk.
The victory was only local and temporary, not national and permanent. Where there is little praise there is little victory.
It is significant that in chapter 1:2 Judah he shall be praised, was
designated by God as the tribe that was to go up first against the Canaanites.
general lack of ability to worship declares all too clearly the sorry state of the
professing church today. As we cease to
remember with thanksgiving all that God has done for us, our spiritual power begins
to diminish. Praise and victory cannot
be separated. In Lk 7:36-50 the Lord
reminds us that love is in proportion to the consciousness of the extent of
indebtedness to grace, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much:
but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
That woman is the same who washed His feet with her tears, wiped them with her
hair, and broke the alabaster box of ointment to anoint His head and His feet Mt
“Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly
cried out to God, and having been delivered, Israel’s offense is no longer
mentioned. All now focuses on the enemy
who had been the instrument used of God to chastise His disobedient people.
God takes vengeance on those who had oppressed His people, even though that
oppression was deserved. When God
forgives, He forgives completely.
is to be noted, however, that the people offered themselves willingly to be God’s
instruments for the overthrow of the enemy. Once
we are in a right relationship with God, the oppression of the enemy will not be
tolerated. True freedom is found only
within the circle of God’s directive will. The
fact that the people offered themselves to be God’s instruments reminds us that He
won’t do for us what He has enabled us to do for ourselves.
Knowledge is to be acted upon.
other renderings of “... when the people willingly offered themselves,” are,
“When locks were worn loose in Israel,” and “... warriors in Israel unbound
their hair.” This is understood by
some to indicate that Israel, now obedient to God, were spiritually in the place of
Nazarites, their obedience guaranteeing them blessing.
The woman’s long hair is her glory, but for a man to have long hair is a
shame (1 Co 11:14-15). The long hair of the Nazarite speaks of willingness to suffer
shame for Christ’s sake. The Apostles
and early disciples counted it an honor to suffer shame for His sake, (Ac 5:41).
One of the foundation stones of a conquering faith is the willingness to
suffer shame for Christ’s sake.
“Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the
Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel.”
speaker is Deborah; and as noted already, she represents that quiet submission which
God values very highly. He who walks in
submissive obedience will never lack either reason, or ability to praise.
“Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field
of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped
notes that, “Edom is specially noticed, because it was thence that the people
emerged at the end of the wilderness career, to threaten the nations with their might
- a might that was not their own: for the earth quaked, and the heavens dropped at
the presence of Jehovah, Israel’s God. Sinai,
before this, had done so, where Israel had come into covenant with Him; and there the
secret of their strength and the conditions of its continuance had been declared.”
meaning shaggy: hairy: goat-like, was the territory of Edom (Esau) red.
As a firstborn, he represents the flesh, so that God’s almighty power being
manifested as Israel left Seir, reminds us that only when confidence in the flesh is
renounced, will the power of God be seen
in our lives, and put forth on our behalf.
“The mountains melted from before the Lord, even that Sinai from before the
Lord God of Israel.”
stands associated with the covenant between God and the people, so that the
association of Sinai with Israel’s leaving Seir, reminds us that these two things
cannot be separated. God’s power was
available to those who were in covenant relation with Him, but only as they renounced
all confidence in the flesh. So is it
with us who are the beneficiaries of a better covenant.
“In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways
were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways.”
the significance of Shamgar, see notes on 3:31.
Under the oppression of the enemy the highways in Israel were deserted, for
the enemy watched them, and appropriated for himself the merchandise that any might
have sought to transport from town to town. Since, however, the commerce of Israel represents the
“commerce” of the believer in spiritual things:
preaching the Gospel, teaching sound doctrine, shepherding God’s sheep,
etc., the application to the professing church today is easily seen.
Here too the “highways are deserted” - few are concerned with God’s
business. Believers, allured by the
world’s wealth, pleasure, fame, power, knowledge, ease, etc., are too busy with the
affairs of earth to have time to engage in God’s business.
and the travellers walked through byways, literally ‘crooked ways.’” This
scarcely needs comment. As then each man
chose his own way, so also today do believers for the most part chose their own way,
and any way not chosen for us by God is a “crooked way.”
Fear of the enemy dictates our way to a far greater extent than most of us are
willing to admit.
“The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I
Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.”
life in Israel had become virtually nonexistent, yet it is to be remembered that
village life was the very backbone of Israel’s economy. Fearing to dwell in the unwalled villages, the people had deserted
them, and sought safety in the larger walled cities.
The application to the present condition of the professing church is
inescapable. God intended believers to
dwell together in the spiritual equivalent of the unwalled villages, i.e., in small
intimate fellowships. Life in the
village was simple and peaceful and rewarding. The
work of the people was connected with the land God had given them. They raised flocks and herds, tilled the fields, tended the olive
and vineyards, etc. Far from the
distractions of the cities, they dwelt in peace and quietness, but the enemy had
brought an end to that kind of life, as he has also in the spiritual realm today.
by the antagonistic might of an ungodly world, and of an equally ungodly professing
but apostate church, believers have been driven to forsake the “villages,” the
small Scriptural assemblies, and seek fellowship in the equivalent of the city, the
large, imposing, organized, but unscriptural counterpart of the Scriptural assembly.
result is the same in the spiritual realm as it was in the physical: the “flocks”
perish from lack of those to care for them; neglected “fields and olive and
vineyards” have brought spiritual famine to the Church.
Few today are willing to give to the work of shepherding God’s people the
time that work requires. Equally few are
willing to spend time in the “fields and olive and vineyards” of the Word to
produce food, first for their own souls, and then for the household of faith.
supreme tragedy, however, is that spiritually blind eyes fail to see the devastation
that has attended our neglect of God’s business, and the pursuit of the world’s
came only when “Deborah arose ... a mother in Israel.” As noted already, none of the deliverances under the Judges were
national. We are deluding ourselves if
we are looking for recovery in the Church at large. What recovery may be found today will not be anything more than
local, and then only where there is a man or a woman with a heart for God and His
people, satisfied to be simply an instrument in His hand.
love can compare with that of a mother for her child.
That is the kind of love that is needed today in the Church.
Only where there are men and women who care more about God’s people than
they do about themselves, can we expect to see recovery.
The prayer of every believer should be that God will raise up such men and
of the villages” is believed by some to mean “champions,” i.e., there was no
one to stand up for Israel. If this
translation is correct the spiritual lesson is virtually the same: there are few
today willing to stand up for the things of God.
“They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear
seen among forty thousand in Israel?”
scarcity of weapons among the people was virtually the same as in the days of Saul,
see 1 Sa 13:19-22, but inasmuch as Israel’s literal weapons are types of the
written Word, the lesson is easily read: the Word was neglected, the ignorance of
what God required resulting in disobedience and therefore chastisement instead of
blessing. The professing church has
duplicated Israel’s folly, and with the same results.
undoing was their turning to worship the gods of Canaan, and the present state of the
professing church is because we have turned to worship the gods of the world: money,
power, wisdom, fame, pleasure, to name but a few.
was war in the gates.” Obedience had
ensured God’s protecting hand at their gates, but their confidence in false gods
had caused that hand to be withdrawn, so that the enemy entered unopposed, for it is
folly to believe that Israel in her own strength had ever repelled the enemy.
So has it been in the professing church.
spiritual equivalents of the shield and spear are equally scarce in the Church.
(Eph 6:10-18 should be read here). The
exhortation of Eph 6:16 is little heeded today, “Above all, taking the shield of
faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
The shield of faith is as scarce in the professing church as was the literal
shield in Israel in the days of the Judges.
“spear” is equally scarce. Believers
today are largely Scripturally illiterate, and without the knowledge of God’s Word
they are as defenseless spiritually as were the Israelites literally.
They can neither defend themselves, nor attack the enemy.
“My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves
willingly among the people. Bless ye the
speaker is Deborah, and literally she is declaring her sympathy with, and approval
of, those leaders who had given themselves so willingly to the Lord’s work.
Such men are to be highly valued today. We
should be faithful to uphold them in prayer. It
is to be noted also that she was careful to thank God for them.
So should we.
“Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by
who “ride on white asses” and who “sit in judgment” are the leaders, while
those who “walk by the way” are the people.
Since the ass represents the body as the servant of the old nature, its being
saddled speaks of the restraints kept upon fleshly lusts, and the asses being white
speaks of the need of purity in the lives of believers, especially those who rule.
is literally meditate, so that the exhortation is for leaders and people
together to think, not only upon the willingness of some of the leaders to give
themselves to the work, even at the risk of their lives, but for all of them to think
upon what God has wrought in giving this victory.
There is no better way to preserve a grateful obedient spirit than to meditate
frequently on what God has wrought for us at Calvary.
“They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing
water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, even the righteous
acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the
Lord go down to the gates.”
are disagreed as to the meaning of this verse, some maintaining that it has reference
to the returned victors rehearsing details of the victory to the women gathered at
the wells, while others claim that the reference is to those who have been delivered
from the enemy archers. The point is of little consequence, for certainly both have
occasion to praise God for this great victory. The
places of drawing water (the wells) represent the Word.
It is around the Word that the believer hears the good news.
the wells represent the Word of God, and the woman represents the spirit of obedient
submission, the lesson here isn’t difficult to read. It is as we gather in obedient submission around the well of the
Word that we are encouraged and cheered by hearing again and again the details of the
great victory won at Calvary.
is significant that the emphasis is upon the victory on behalf of the inhabitants of
the villages. As noted already,
the enemy had caused the villages to be all but abandoned.
But the villages represent the local assemblies, so that the lesson is in
keeping with what has been noted already: the deliverance was not national.
Recovery for the professing church at large is not to be expected.
Any recovery will be in “the villages” - it will be local, not general.
then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates” is also of uncertain
meaning, but since the gate was the place of government, the place where disputes
were settled, and covenants witnessed, it would seem to speak of the fact that when
the intellectualism represented by Jabin and Sisera is banished, and God’s Word is
accepted as the sole authority for what we do as individuals and as local assemblies,
then and only then will there be blessing. In
short, their going down to the gates, speaks of submission to God’s government.
“Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise Barak, and lead
thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.”
repeated “awake, awake” is as needful today as then, for nothing robs the soul of
power like the lethargy of indifference to what God has done for us.
way of explanation before continuing, it is necessary to remember something relative
to those individuals who are types of Christ. With
a very few rare exceptions such as Joseph of whom no sin is recorded (though he
sinned, for as it is written, “There is no man that sinneth not,” 1 Ki 8:46),
imperfection marked all of them. David, for example, is clearly a type of Christ, but not in all
that he did. His sin in connection with
Bath-sheba, for example, has no counterpart in the life of Christ.
have noted already that the deliverers raised up during the era of the Judges are
types of Christ, their deliverances being but foreshadowings of His.
This truth will be missed, however, if we focus on their weaknesses, but God
would have us fix our eyes on that which clearly speaks of Christ, and even though as
individuals many of them exhibit much of weakness and failure, there can still be
detected that which portrays the perfections of Christ, even in such a man as Barak
who refused to go to the battle unless Deborah went with him.
he is such a type is disclosed in the command given him, “... arise, Barak, and
lead thy captivity captive....” This
phrase is found in Ps 68:18, and again in Ep 4:8, where clearly the reference is to
the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor need we
concern ourselves with whether the meaning is that He led away a multitude of
captives, or led out of captivity those who had been held in bondage.
In the case of Barak, and of Christ, both meanings apply.
Each led the enemy captive, and at the same time delivered those who had been
“Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the
people: the Lord made me have dominion over the mighty.”
him that remaineth” is literally “the remnant,” and would appear to be those
who went to the battle, but it isn’t clear whether “the nobles” are the rulers
of the other tribes, or the rulers from among the enemy, though the former appears
the more likely. In any case it is
interesting to find that the reward is similar to that promised us: we shall reign
with Christ, and Scripture makes it clear that our position in that government will
be in proportion to the faithfulness of our stewardship here on earth, see for
example, Mt 25:14-23; Lk 19:12-27.
is instructive to note that those, who before the battle, had been held in low
esteem, were regarded very differently when it was over.
There is encouragement in this for those whose appointed service keeps them in
obscurity, neither they nor their work being considered of much value.
The Lord, however, esteems faithfulness very highly, and on that day when we
stand before His judgment seat, the faithful service rendered in obscurity will be
publicly acknowledged, and the servant promoted over many who on earth were esteemed
more highly by men who wrongly judged according to the sight of the eyes only.
that day many who had occupied seats of honor amongst God’s people on earth, will
be compelled, with shame, to occupy a lower place (Lk 14:7-11).
“Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee,
Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun
they that handle the pen of the writer.”
begins the commendation of those who came to the battle, and while the exact meaning
of “Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek,” is obscure, it is
generally thought to mean simply that Ephraim occupied territory formerly won from
the Amalekites, though this is open to question, since the territory of Judah lay
between Ephraim and the Amalek-ites It
isn’t surprising to find at the top of the list the tribe that speaks of
fruitfulness, for an indispensable part of spiritual fruitfulness is the courage to
oppose the enemy. His having
dispossessed Amalek, who represents the flesh, reminds us that the old nature within
us is the first enemy to be overcome if we are to see any work done for God.
son of the right hand, comes next, reminding us that victory is assured to
those who abide in the true Benjamin, the Lord Jesus Christ, for we have the
assurance from Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”
comes next, for Machir salesman was one of the families of Manasseh, see Nu
26:39. This tribe had a possession on
both sides of the Jordan, and it isn’t indicated whether those who came to the
battle were from only one side, or whether both were represented, though verse 17
would indicate that those east of Jordan did not come, for Gilead was one of the
families of Manasseh. Inasmuch as
Manasseh causing to forget represents that spirit, which with its eyes on the
mark for the prize of the high calling of God, is willing to forget the things that
are behind (Php 3:13), we are being reminded that all who would do exploits for God
must be imbued with that same spirit. Nothing
is more harmful to victorious Christian living than an occupation with the past -
either its failures or its victories, for occupation with the failures will
discourage us, while occupation with the victories (real or imagined) tends to
dwelling comes next, reminding us that only as we dwell in the center of
God’s directive will, can we claim His presence and power.
description of the Zebulunites as being “they that handle the pen of the writer,”
isn’t difficult to interpret, for one writes to convey information, so that this
declares the necessity of being so well acquainted with the Word of God that we too
can “handle the pen of the writer,” i.e., impart to others, both saved and
unsaved, the knowledge of God. The
crying need of the present day is for evangelists, elders, and teachers willing to
devote themselves with a whole heart to the exercise of the spiritual gift with which
God has endowed them.
“And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; even Issachar, and also
Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. For
the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart.”
means he will be hired: there is reward: he will bring reward.
He represents service, and his presence at the battle testifies to the truth
that he was willing to serve even at the risk of his life.
Such was the character of Christ’s service, and if anything is to be done
for God today, such must be the character of ours also.
being sent “on foot into the valley,” i.e., into the battle, declares that though
the enemy had nine hundred iron chariots and horses, Issachar went simply in the
confidence that since God had sent him to this conflict there could be no failure, no
matter how great the power of the enemy. It was a similar spirit that led David to discard the armor
offered by Saul, and to enter the valley of Elah armed only with a sling, even though
the enemy was Goliath whose very appearance terrified the whole army of Israel.
however, are but types of Him Who went alone into the valley of death to engage an
enemy which none but He could vanquish. Issachar
had nothing that could be counted a weapon (see verse 8), nor did David, but in this
God would teach us that the only weapon we need is perfect obedience to His will.
Christ’s only weapon was that same spirit of obedience, but with it He
conquered Satan, Death and hell. With
that same weapon we too can vanquish every foe.
is to be remembered that God gave the victory by sending torrential rain which caused
the Kishon to overflow its banks and sweep away the enemy chariots and horses.
Those waters also endangered Barak and his forces, but God protected them.
Metaphorically speaking, waters were also involved in the mighty victory won
at Calvary, see the references to Christ’s being overcome by waterfloods, e.g., Ps
42:7; 69:1,2,14,15; 88:6,7,16-18. Barak
saw the waters, but was preserved from them. It
was by entering into the waters of God’s wrath against sin that Christ conquered
death, arising victoriously on the third day.
was very different, however, with Reuben. There
was much debate and discussion, but no Reubenite went to the battle.
While they talked, others fought and won a great victory in which Reuben could
claim no part. So is it today. There
is much talk among many professed believers, but few are willing to act for God.
Nor should we be surprised to find Reuben condemned rather than commended, for
as Jacob’s firstborn he represents what every firstborn represents: the flesh, the
old nature. The flesh can never be
anything but an impediment to spiritual work.
“Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks?
For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.”
his flocks were the measure of a man’s wealth, this reference to Reuben’s abiding
among the sheepfolds speaks of occupation with earthly things.
It is similar occupation that keeps many a man today from accomplishing
anything for God. He is a wise man who
heeds the exhortation, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his
righteousness....” (Mt 6:33).
repetition of the scathing reference to the great discussions among the Reubenites
declares the attitude of God towards the similar empty talk that fritters away
precious time amongst Christians today. There
is more to the Christian life than mere talk. There
is work to be done; there are battles to be won.
“Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships?
Asher continued on the sea shore and abode in his breaches (creeks).”
heap of witness: rolling for ever was one of the families of Manasseh causing
to forget, and it is unclear whether it was just this branch of the tribe that
refused to come, or whether the reference is to all Manasseh settled east of Jordan.
That point however, is unimportant. God
here speaks specifically of Gilead. The place
Gilead represents Calvary. It is the
“heap of witness” to God’s love and man’s ruin, and it is a witness that will
“roll” (continue) for ever. But the person
Gilead is no different, for every believer is a Gileadite.
For all eternity we will stand displayed as the witness to the love of God
that lifted the beggar from the dunghill and set him among princes (1 Sa 2:8).
It is God’s intention that that witness should begin here on earth, no small
part of that witness being the willingness of every believer to do battle with all
that opposes God. Sadly, however, all
too many have followed the cowardly course of their OT counterpart.
ships appear to be symbols of local assemblies sailing on their way home to heaven,
over the sea of unconverted humanity, fishing for souls as they go, the reference to
Dan’s remaining in ships may be meant to have us see in him a picture of those
assemblies which have turned in upon themselves to such an extent that they are
unwilling to go out with the Gospel, for the fearless proclamation of the Gospel
brings us inevitably into conflict with the enemy, particularly the world’s wisdom.
This is the more lamentable in view of the meaning of his name judging: a
judge. He who should have been most
capable of making a right judgment, was guilty of grievous error on this occasion.
The local assembly is the place where we are to worship, have our souls fed,
our zeal rekindled, our courage strengthened - and from which we are to go out to
believers we too are spiritual Danites called upon to make judgments relative to
earthly and heavenly things. Regrettably,
many of us all too often follow Dan’s erring footsteps. We refuse to undertake anything for God.
That wrong judgment will cause us incalculable loss on that day, surely not
far off, when we shall all stand at the judgment seat of Christ.
as the sea represents the unconverted masses of humanity (Isa 57:20), Asher’s (happy)
continuing “on the sea shore” and taking no part in the battle, appears to
represent that spirit of world bordering which is fatal to spiritual happiness and to
the accomplishment of anything for God. As
noted in 4:7, the river Kishon where the battle was fought, was in Asher’s
territory, yet he went not up to the aid of the tribes who were risking their lives
to secure a victory whose blessings he would share.
this is a condition all too prevalent among Christians
today. Many are content to live
so close to the world that it is difficult to distinguish believer from unbeliever,
and however near the conflict with the enemy may be, they are unwilling to render any
aid to those who are willing to engage in the warfare, even though they
themselves, like Asher, share in the blessings secured by the victories won.
abiding in “his breaches (creeks or bays)” may speak of that tendency of the
world-bordering believer to live within his own little selfish sphere, happy to enjoy
the blessings secured by the sacrifice of others, but unwilling to raise his finger
to aid the cause of Christ.
breaches or bays, by which the sea penetrates the land, furnish a very fitting
picture of the intrusion of the world into the life of the world-bordering believer.
“Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the
death in the high places of the field.”
different is the conduct of these two tribes from those we have just been
considering; nor is their faithfulness any more than is to be expected considering
that Zebulun means dwelling; and Naphtali, my wrestling: my tortuosity.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, and who wrestles against
all that is not of God, is unlikely to be found anywhere other than in the forefront
of the conflict with the enemy. Unfortunately
the spiritual counterparts of these two tribes are discouragingly few today.
is special significance to its being said that they risked their lives “in the high
places of the field,” for it was on those uplands, beyond reach of the flood waters
of the Kishon river, that the enemy could best use his horses and iron chariots.
Only those of the spiritual character portrayed by Zebulun and Naphtali are
capable of engaging the enemy as represented by the hosts of Jabin, on those
noted already, however, those high places also represent the times when we draw aside
from the world, and are lifted far above its distractions, to commune with God, have
our souls refreshed, and our strength renewed. Constant
warfare is needed to keep the enemy from occupying those “high places.”
He has a thousand subtle devices to rob us of the time needed to go up to the
“The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by
the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.”
kings who came and fought were the enemy, and since they, albeit unwittingly, fought
against God, it is little wonder that “they took no gain of money,” but rather
suffered an ignominious defeat. As noted
already, their being Canaanites traffickers, points to them as representing
all who “traffic” in spiritual things for mere earthly gain.
They are a very numerous breed today.
means she will afflict thee; and Megiddo, invading: gathering for cutting
(self): his cutting place. Inasmuch
as the “affliction” of the enemy was to come at the hand of a woman, and the
woman represents submission, either the genuine submission of faith, or the feigned
submission of the great harlot system calling itself the church, the lesson of
Taanach is easily read. Those who walk
in submission to God’s will, are they who in the final outcome, will prove to be
indeed “affliction” to the enemy. And
those who own allegiance to the harlot system will find that she herself is the
instrument of their affliction, for all who are found in her must share her eternal
torment. And Megiddo would remind us
that however much the enemy may dare to “invade” the sphere given by God to His
own, that intrusion will make the very place which the enemy hoped to possess, the
self-chosen place of his own destruction. It
will prove to be God’s “cutting place.” “The
waters of Megiddo” are the Kishon and its tributaries.
“They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.”
are the stars, and it is generally recognized that this is simply a poetic way of
saying that God fought for His people. As
we walk in obedience, we too have the assurance that God fights for us, and “If God
be for us who can be against us?” (Ro 8:31). Note
for example, the experience recorded in 2 Ki 6.
Elisha’s servant, seeing the city surrounded by the Syrian host, said,
“Alas, my master! how shall we do?” But
Elisha assured him, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be
with them,” and in response to Elisha’s prayer, the young man was shown that,
“Behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
The extended day of Joshua 10 is another example of God’s intervention on
behalf of His own. So is it with us. The
unseen hosts of heaven are on our side.
“The river Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon.
O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.”
never fails to honor faith. Those who
though they had no weapon worthy of the name, see verse 8, had been willing to obey
Him by coming to the place He had designated, to engage the enemy in battle, found
their faith justified. God fought for
them, and the weapon He used was rain that turned the Kishon into a raging flood that
swept the enemy away.
is interesting to notice other times when God used water on behalf of His people,
e.g., He divided the Red Sea to afford them safe passage out of Egypt, and then
returned those same waters to their former state to slay the Egyptians.
And again, as they prepared to enter Canaan, He divided the flooding Jordan,
so that they crossed on dry ground. God
never lacks the means to deliver His own; and obedience is all that is needed to make
those means available to us.
my soul, thou hast trodden down strength,” is clearly not a claim that they
themselves had defeated the foe, but rather, the acknowledgement that their faith had
brought God to their aid.
should surprise no one to find that in the conflict here described God is giving us a
preview of Calvary. The name of every
tribe of Israel directs our attention to some special attribute of the Lord Jesus
Christ, so here in Zebulun dwelling we are reminded that He is the One Who
ever dwelt in the bosom of the Father (Jn 1:18); and in Naphtali my wrestling: my
tortuosity He is presented as the One Who wrestled against the powers of darkness
throughout His earthly life, culminating that wrestling with His mighty victory over
them at Calvary. The men of Zebulun and
Naphtali risked their lives: Christ gave His!
the high places,” i.e., the high ground beyond the reach of the flood waters, where
the enemy could best use his iron chariots. Christ
fulfilled the type at Calvary. By
allowing Himself to be nailed to the cross He exposed Himself to Satan’s most
terrible weapon: Death.
gathering of the Canaanite kings against Israel points to the gathering of the
infernal forces of darkness against the Lord at Calvary.
she will afflict thee reminds us that the evil apostate religious system
headed up by the high priest and his minions was the forerunner of the great false
church, the inveterate foe of God and His people. It was that evil travesty that afflicted Christ during His public
ministry, and at the end handed him over to the tender mercies of the Romans, whose
abuse of Him in the judgment hall culminated in their crucifying Him at Calvary,
while they themselves, the priests, mocked His dying agony.
He is the One Who was afflicted as none other ever had been or ever will be,
as the prophet has written, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our
sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isa 53:4).
the waters of Megiddo invading: gathering for cutting (self): his cutting place.”
There were waters also at Calvary, metaphorically speaking.
See, e.g., Ps 42:7; 69:1,14-15; 88:6-7,16-18.
Waters are used frequently in Scripture to portray the outpouring of God’s
first meaning of Megiddo invading reminds us that contrary to what the natural
eye perceived at Calvary, the Lord, even as He hung on the cross, was invading and
conquering Satan’s kingdom.
second meaning gathering for cutting (self) reminds us that the gathering of
Satan’s legions was to cut off Christ, but it proved to be the place where they
themselves were “cut.” It was there
that Satan received his death wound. But
the third meaning his cutting place reminds us that Calvary was God’s
cutting place. There He dealt with sin,
and with the Lord Jesus Christ as the Sin-bearer.
There Christ was “cut off out of the land of the living” (Isa 53:8).
There “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our
iniquities” (Isa 53:5).
took no gain of money.” Those
Canaanite kings carried away no spoil. They
were destroyed there, as were Satan and his evil hordes at Calvary.
the forces of heaven were on Israel’s side that day in the valley of the Kishon, so
were they on our side at Calvary. The
Lord Jesus Christ was fighting for us!
was water that swept the enemy away, but water is a type of the Word.
Christ is the Word, see John chapter 1. It
was He Who through His perfect obedience to the written Word won that mighty victory.
The Kishon is described as the “ancient river.”
Christ is coequal and coeternal with the Ancient of Days, see Daniel chapter
“Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the
pransings of their mighty ones.”
horse is one of the Biblical symbols of strength, but that strength was of no avail
against the waters sent by God. Those
hoofs which had been intended by the foe to trample down the Israelites, scrambled
frantically to extricate themselves from the flood waters that swept them, the
chariots, and the riders down to death.
are one of the symbols of the Word of God, and the times when God used them to
destroy the enemy should remind us of what is written concerning that same Word,
“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the
word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (Jn 12:48).
“Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the
inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of
the Lord against the mighty.”
location of Meroz, meaning waxing lean: enduring: cedar worker: is unknown,
nor do these meanings furnish any spiritual lesson that is readily
deciphered, though the context indicates that the leanness is that
condition of soul which is the invariable accompaniment of disobedience, and clearly
the inhabitants were disobedient, for they refused to render any aid to their
countrymen who fought against the enemy.
second meaning enduring may perhaps indicate that they represent an enduring
or permanent principle: disobedience produces leanness of soul.
And since the cedar represents that which is greatest in humanity, as the
hyssop represents that which is least, their being cedar workers may imply pride - a
tendency to associate themselves with those they considered great, while despising
the poor. If this is correct, then it is little wonder that God Himself
pronounced a curse upon them. He hates
pride in any form. Note that pride heads
the list of seven things which God hates (Pr 6:16-17), and He must surely have a
special hatred of that pride on the part of believers which would account the rich,
powerful, influential unbeliever as of greater worth than the poor of their own
believing brethren, and there is no question that the inhabitants of Meroz were
refusal to come to “the help of the Lord” may not be taken, of course, to imply
that God needed their help. He doesn’t
need the help of any man, but their refusal to stand with their brethren in this
conflict was tantamount to refusal to stand on God’s side.
His reaction to their refusal ought to warn us against being guilty of similar
“Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed
shall she be above women in the tent.”
stark contrast with the curse pronounced upon Meroz is the blessing proclaimed upon
Jael, and since the tent is always associated with the pilgrim walk, the reference to
the tent reminds us that God values highly those who are willing to be pilgrims and
strangers on the earth.
the significance of Heber see comments on 4:17.
“He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly
dish (a bowl fit for a nobleman).”
the significance of her giving him milk instead of water, see comments on 4:19.
It is significant that here the milk is said to have been butter (curds), but
curds are produced by churning the milk, churning being symbolic of meditation on the
Word. There must be meditation as well
as reading. As noted already, the
simplest form of the Word, used in faith by the youngest believer, has no less power
than that used by the most mature believer, for while milk represents the Word as
food for the new-born Christian, butter portrays it as the food of the mature.
In 4:19 there is no mention of the vessel into which she poured the milk, but
here it is described as “a lordly vessel.” That
vessel may well represent the Holy Spirit, the pouring of the milk into that vessel
symbolizing the committal of the Word to Him for His use, for it is He Who has the
power to use the simplest form of the Word used in faith by the youngest believer, to
defeat all the purposes of the enemy.
“She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen’s hammer;
and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced
and stricken through his temples.”
she put her right hand to the hammer, the implication is that she put her left hand
to the nail, and in this we learn a valuable lesson.
As noted already, the “nail” is used in Scripture as a figure or type of
Christ, e.g., Isa 22:23; Zec 10:4; and the “hammer,” as a type of the Word of God
(Jer 23:29). The left hand likewise has
symbolic meaning, for it speaks of weakness and dependence, whereas the right hand
speaks of power. Her left hand on the
nail, and her right on the hammer therefore declare the necessity of our abiding in
Christ, laying hold of Him as the source of power, and the written Word as the
instrument directing that power against the enemy.
also noted already, the nail driven through his head, and into the ground (4:21) is
the symbolic picture of Christ overcoming the enemy by being Himself “driven into
the ground,” that is, by dying and being laid in the tomb.
That same “Nail,” however, is seen again in resurrection in Isa 22:23,
“And I will fasten him (Christ) as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a
glorious throne to his father’s house. And
they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house....”
The Lord Jesus Christ was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our
justification, Ro 4:25.
in the erection of a tent, the first peg or pin driven into the ground, determines
the positions of all the other pins, so that the tent may be said to “hang” on
that first pin. So is it with Christ.
During her pilgrimage through the desert of this world on her way home to
heaven, the Church “hangs” on the Christ Who was “driven into the ground” at
Calvary, but in eternity she will “hang upon” Him as the Nail resurrected, and
“fastened” eternally in the Father’s house, He being not only her sure
Support, but also the Nail upon which all other things “hang” or depend.
“At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell:
where he bowed, there he fell down dead.”
verses merely add details omitted from the account in chapter four.
Some have imagined a contradiction connected with its being said that “he
fell,” when in fact he was lying asleep when she slew him.
There is no contradiction. His
falling means simply that he died, not that he literally fell from a standing
“The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice,
Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?”
must be some special significance attached to the fact that women figure so
prominently in this narrative, but I regret being unable to read the lesson which
undoubtedly is there. In the case of
this woman, as the mother of the man who was captain of Jabin’s forces, she may
represent the great false church, and her
disappointed expectation may foreshadow the far more terrible disappointment that
awaits her and her deluded dupes in a lost eternity.
a window is the means by which light enters, her looking out at a window points to
the truth that the light of mere earthly wisdom is in reality utter darkness.
There is no light in the place or in the man whose only light is that of
intellectualism. In his delusion, such a
man deems faith in Christ to be the darkness of primitive superstition, he himself
being ignorant of the fact that what he mistakes for light is that in regard to which
God says, “If thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.
If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that
darkness!” (Mt 6:23).
“Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself.”
we find the fatal optimism that marks all who live in subjection to the world’s
wisdom. So great is their confidence in
it that they despise the wisdom of God, and refuse to entertain even the idea that
they could be wrong.
“Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel
or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colors, a prey of divers colors of needlework, of
divers colors of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the
she attributed the delay to the time needed to divide the spoil, unaware of the fact
that her son was a corpse, and his army defeated.
Her ignorance of her son’s state reflects the ignorance of all who trust in
worldly wisdom: they know not that they are dead men, “dead in trespasses and
sins” (Eph 2:1), and unless awakened and saved, will die the second death, which is
to be consigned to the eternal torment of the lake of fire (Re 20:14).
garments represent righteousness, either the righteousness of Christ which clothes
the believer, or the filthy rags of our own self-righteousness, the threefold
reference (number of resurrection) to the garment which she envisaged as being part
of the spoil, may speak of the expectation of the man whose trust is in the world’s
wisdom. He is convinced that he has all
the righteousness he needs both for time and eternity.
“So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love him be as
the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And
the land had rest forty years.”
sun is a symbol of Christ, and we are assured that we shall be like Him.
But the emphasis is upon Christ in His role as mighty Conqueror.
We too are more than conquerors through Him, and in a soon coming day we shall
reign with Him.
concluding our study of this fifth chapter we should note that the praise and rebuke
which are mingled with the song of thanksgiving, mark it as being also a typological
foreshadowing of the judgment seat of Christ. There
too there will be commendation and rebuke. It
behooves us therefore to live our lives in the light of the knowledge that “We must
all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things
done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Co