The following commentary covers Chapters 3, 4, and 5.
people's unfaithfulness turned into blessing
God, knowing what the
people were, and what was their condition, had left
within the borders of their land that which put obedience
to the proofthe Philistines, the Sidonians, etc.,
that they might learn war, and experience the ways and
the government of Jehovah.
Thus the wisdom and
foreknowledge of God, who knows what is in man, turned
the unfaithfulness of the people into blessing. Outward
prosperity, without trial, would not have remedied
unbelief, whilst it would have deprived them of those
exercises and conflicts in which they might learn what
God was, His ways and His relations to them, as well as
what their own hearts were.
We go through the same
experience, and for the same reasons.
Othniel, Ehud and
Shamgar raised up as deliverers
I will now go over the
principal subjects presented in the history of this book.
Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar were, in succession, the first
instruments raised up by God to deliver His people.
First we have to remark
the failure of the people, who begin to serve false gods;
thereupon their servitude. In their distress
they cry unto Jehovah. This is always the way in which
deliverance comes (chap. 3: 9, 15; 4: 3). In this last
instance Jehovah departs from His usual ways. The nation
had lost its strength and energy, even as to its internal
affairs. This is the effect of repeated falls; the sense
of God's power is lost.
Deborah and Barak
At the period of which we
speak, a woman judged Israel. It was a sign of God's
omnipotency, for she was a prophetess. But it was
contrary to God's ordinary dealings, and a disgrace to
men. Deborah calls Barak (for where the Spirit of God
acts, He discerns and directs); she communicates to him
the command of God. He obeys; but he lacks faith to
proceed as one who has had direct instruction from God
and consequently needs no other. These direct
communications give the consciousness of God's presence,
and that He interposes on behalf of His people. Barak
will not go without Deborah. But this want of faith is
not to his credit. Men will keep the place which answers
to the measure of their faith; and God will again be
glorified through the instrumentality of a woman. Barak
has faith enough to obey if he has some one near who can
lean immediately on God, but not enough to do so himself.
This is too often the case. God does not reject him, but
He does not honour him. In fact, it is by no means the
same faith in God. And it is by faith that God is
discipline of the people in war
We have, moreover, in this
case, not the immediate destruction of the enemy, but the
discipline of the people in war to recover them from the
state of moral weakness into which they had fallen. They
began with small things. A woman was the instrument; for
fear does not honour God, and God cannot allow His glory
to rest on such a condition as this. But little by little
"the hand of the children of Israel prevailed
against Jabin until they had destroyed him."
The usual effect of such a
work of the Holy Ghost as this is to present the people
as willingly offering themselves (chap. 5:2).
Nevertheless the Spirit of God has shewn us that unbelief
amongst the people had caused many of them to stay behind;
and thus they lost the manifestation and the experience
of the power of God. The judgment of God amounts to a
curse where there was an entire holding back, a refusing
to be associated with the people in their weakness.