Deborah. A wife, a prophetess, a judge of Israel (Jud. 4:4). Willing to be a “right hand man” for a fearful general called by a faithful God (4:6-9). And, a singer songwriter. This morning I’m hovering over her song in Judges 5.
It’s a song of victory. It’s a song of a mighty God who graciously rescues a rebellious people (again) for His redemptive purposes. A tale of triumph over a terrible oppressor. An ode to a tent-dwelling, stay-at-home mom who crushed the head of a powerful military enemy. But the thing that grabs me in particular as I chew on this lyrical collaboration between a judge of Israel and a general of Israel, is the integral dynamic between God’s mighty purposes and God’s not so mighty people.
“That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the LORD! . . .
My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the LORD.
“Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys, you who sit on rich carpets and you who walk by the way. To the sound of musicians at the watering places, there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the LORD, the righteous triumphs of His villagers in Israel.”
(Judges 5:2, 9. 10-11 ESV)
It was God who heard the cries of a people cruelly oppressed for twenty years (4:3) and determined to deliver them. But His power would be shown through His people. Rather than send a host of heaven, He would send those who repeatedly fell to the flesh.
Oh, but when their leaders lead, when the people offer themselves willingly, then the righteous triumphs of the high and holy LORD of heaven become the righteous triumphs of a lowly and less then always reliable people. Bless the LORD!
Yeah, I’d like to think I’m Deborah. But I know I am far more like Barak. Yet, when all was said and done, they both offered themselves willingly (though Barak not unconditionally). These leaders led. Their commanders followed. And an oppressed people gained victory over their mighty oppressors. A victory through the woven cord (Eccl. 4:12) of a Triune God and His called out people. A righteous triumph.
The triumphs of God are the triumphs of His people. The triumphs of His people, triumphs of God. Talk about an intimate yoking. Talk about linking two things together which only in the sovereign purposes of a loving God make sense to tie together. Oh, the wonder of the depths to which God is determined to work for His people even as He binds Himself to them and works through His people.
And not just an Old Testament thing.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. . . . By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.” ~ Jesus
(John 15:4-5, 8 ESV)
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)
A God intricately connected with His people. A people willingly rising to follow their God. Such are the dynamics of His righteous triumphs.
Only through His abundant grace. Only for His everlasting glory.