Chapter 16 - Canaanites Are Defeated - Page 5 of 6 (series: Lessons on Judges)
by John Lowe
Now do we not find, in all this, bad faith, deceit, deep hypocrisy, lying, breach of treaty, contempt of religious rites, and breach of the laws of hospitality, deliberate and unprovoked murder? But what can be said to justify her shocking deed? All that can be said, and all that has been said is simply this: "She might have been sincere at first, but was afterwards divinely directed to do what she did." If this was so, she is sufficiently vindicated by the fact; for God has a right to dispose of the lives of his creatures as he pleases: and probably the cup of Sisera's iniquity was full, and his life already forfeited to the justice of God. But does it appear that she received any such direction from God? There is no sufficient evidence of it: it is true that Deborah, a prophetess, declares her blessed above women; and this seems to intimate that her conduct was pleasing to God. If Deborah was inspired on this occasion, her words are presumed to be proof that the act was right; unless we are to understand it as a simple declaration of the reputation she should be held in among her own sex. But we do not find one word from Jael herself, stating how she was led to do an act repugnant to her feelings as a woman, contrary to good faith, and a breach of the rules of hospitality. Nor does the sacred writer say one word to explain the case; as in the case of Ehud, he states the fact, and leaves his readers to form their own opinion. To say, as has been said in the case of Eglon, that "Sisera was a public enemy, and any of the people whom he oppressed might be justified in taking away his life," is a very dangerous position, as it refers one of the most solemn acts of judgment and justice to the whim, or prejudice, or enthusiastic feeling of every individual who may persuade himself that he is authorized by God to take vengeance by his own hand. While justice and law are in the world, God never will authorize individual human vengeance; the time for judging the conduct of Ehud and Jael, will be when they will stand before the tribunal of God; that time still lies in the future. I will not justify, I dare not absolutely condemn; there I leave them, and entreat my readers to do the same.
1(Isa. 3:12) “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” This comment can be applied to the period when Deborah judged Israel—children are their oppressors, and women rule over them indicates the utter failure of the male leadership in the society of Judah. The implication of the entire chapter is that when male leadership fails, it will naturally be replaced by female leadership and incompetent childish leadership.
2(Heb. 11.32) “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:” Then there was Barak. When called to lead Israel to battle against the Canaanites, he agreed only on the condition that Deborah would go with him. In spite of this cowardly facet in his character, God saw real trust and lists him among the men of faith.
3(Ps 2:1–3) “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
4(Jg. 5:19) “The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.”
5(II Chr 35:22–24) “Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded. His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.”
6(Jos. 12.21) “The king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one;” God had made a promise earlier to Israel before they crossed the Jordan: “He will deliver their kings into your hand, and you will destroy their name from under heaven; no one shall be able to stand against you until you have destroyed them” (Deut. 7:24). Here are thirty-one instances of God’s faithfulness (vv. 7–24); Joshua defeated thirty-one ... kings on the west side of the Jordan.
7(Ex. 14.25) “And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.” When Pharaoh’s army tried to follow, the LORD ... troubled them and disabled their chariots so that they drove them with difficulty. Before they could retreat, the sea closed in on them at Moses’ command. Not so much as one of them remained. The same faith that opened up the Red Sea enables us to do the impossible when we are moving forward in the will of God.
8(Jos. 10:10) “Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.” Then, at the request of Joshua, the sun and moon “stood still" (or “tarried”), prolonging the hours that the Israelites could continue to pursue and destroy the foe before they could escape to the security of their walled cities. It is literally descriptive language to say that the sun and the moon stood still. We use such language when we say that the sun rose or set. Various natural explanations have been given as to what actually happened at this time. But it is enough to know that it was a miracle which resulted in an extended day for fighting. Spurgeon says, “How He did it is no question for us. ... It is not ours to try and soften down miracles, but to glorify God in them.”
9(2 Samuel 22:15) “He sent out arrows and scattered them; Lightning bolts, and He vanquished them.
10(Psalm 18:14) “Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.”
11(Psalm 144.6) “Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them.” Here, the psalmist’s prayer changes from praise to invocation. Having ascribed blessedness unto Jehovah, he now invokes the aid of Jehovah. Taking his metaphor from 18:9, the psalmist asks Jehovah to extend Himself from the heavens and come down to the aid of man. “This was never so remarkably fulfilled as in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, when heaven and earth were, as it was, brought together.… But this will be more remarkably filled still by Christ’s second coming, when He will indeed bring all heaven down with Him—viz. all the inhabitants of heaven”—Jonathan Edwards.