Are they not finding and dividing the spoil--a girl or two for each warrior, a plunder of dyed garments for Sisera, the spoil of embroidered garments for the neck of the looter?'
I. ITS JUSTIFICATION. There are several grounds, upon any or all of which the deed may be defended.
1. That of a relative and imperfect morality. Morality in that age was not perfectly revealed or realised. With increasing light of revelation and spiritual experience come new moral levels and tests. A thing may be comparatively or relatively right which is not absolutely so. The fact that we condemn the action is not due to our superior natural light, but simply to the teachings of Christianity, the outgrowth and perfecting of the crude morality of the Old Testament.
2. On the principle that the obligation to tell the truth depends upon the existence of a normal and friendly relation between men; the permission to kill carrying with it that of dissimulation (Mozley).
3. Because Jael followed as a mere instrument the impulse of the Absolute. Is it not credible that persons may be moved by a superior reason to do things justifiable from the standpoint of that superior reason, but which, if they fully realised what they were doing, would be utterly unlawful for them to do?
II. ITS BEARINGS UPON INSPIRATION, etc. OF HOLY SCRIPTURE. The inspiration of Scripture cannot be affected by the inspired sanction of such a deed. Inspiration does not necessarily involve a knowledge of the" whole counsel of God." It has its degrees, and is reliable so far as it goes. A merely human production would have avoided such apparent self-contradictions. That there are moral mysteries and difficulties in the Bible, which are nevertheless seen to have possible solutions beyond the immediate knowledge of man, is a strong presumption in favour of its being Divine.
III. HOW FAR IS JAEL AN EXAMPLE TO BE IMITATED? In no wise. This is an exceptional case, all of whose circumstances must be taken into account She is, like many whom a special destiny seems to isolate from their fellows, almost to be pitied, save for the thought that she acted as the servant of God. The instincts by which we condemn her deed are evidently of God, and must therefore be followed. - M.
Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?
I. Let us look at this text as the language of the UNIVERSAL CHURCH. The Church in the wilderness, the Church militant, for nearly nineteen centuries has been breathing fervently the prayer commanded by her Founder — "Thy kingdom come." And in her anticipation of the answer and the advent, in her longings after complete victory, universal regeneration, when truth and peace shall sway her sceptre in every land, and the Christ-King shall be enthroned in every heart — I say, in her longings after this glorious era, she plaintively ejaculates, "Why is His chariot so long in coming?" "Why does my Lord delay His coming?" The progress of Christianity, the achievements and triumphs of truth, we are told, have been so slow, so few, so limited, for the time in which it has been at work, that our learned doubters and avowed foes have written upon it in big letters, "Failure!" Well, we are not surprised at that. Had there not been something about it which largely savoured of success, they would not have been so hasty to label it with failure! Moreover, slowness of progress, of growth, is no proof of failure. Are not the greatest works of God and man the result of slow processes? I would ask, must the corn be pronounced a failure because it does not wave in golden harvests after a night and a day's growth? Must the old sun be pronounced a failure because it does not march instantaneously, but by degrees, to the meridian? What if Christianity has been slow in its march? — it has been sure. It has been moving in no circle of uncertainty, no region of doubt and ill-based probabilities! It has been making solid headway. And if other systems of religion — false and flashy — have sprung up with the rapidity of the mushroom, they have been as fragile and unenduring.
II. Look at this text as the language of the INDIVIDUAL CHURCH DESIRING AND EXPECTING A SPECIAL VISIT FROM HEAVEN. The chilling winds of worldliness have swept over the Church, or the mildew of indifference has fallen on some, and the cankerous rust of idleness on others, while some have become intoxicated with pride, and others poisoned with heresy, numbed with doubt, and wild with the delirium of controversy. So that the Church is bordering on lifelessness, its strength low, its energies exhausted, its influence and glory almost gone. The few in her that have not defiled their garments nor indulged in worldly ease, who are true and loyal, and steadfast and earnest, tremble for the "ark of God," and grieve to see it drifting to the fatal rocks; and in agony of soul cry, "Why is His chariot so long in coming to our help?" Hold on faith, hold on patience, hold on pleading — loosen not your grasp of Omnipotence, your Jacob-like grip on God — cease not to ask, to seek, to knock, to wait: in Jehovah's own time the golden gates will open, the flaming steed will rush out. He who speeds His way through a wilderness of worlds, through untraversed solitudes of space, will steer His glad "chariot" to your sanctuary and in the midst of the Church, and scatter the gifts of His grace and the benedictions of His love.
III. Look at this text as the language of the PENITENT SINNER SEEKING AND DESIRING CHRIST. A penitent soul is one of earth's grandest pictures. When the obdurate heart melts and weeps, and the unwilling knees bend in lowly submission, and the prayer uprises to heaven, "What must I do to be saved?" and the poor sinner is passing through the sharp ordeal of repentance, then it is we read in the mystic language of tears and sighs the plaintive words of my text, "Why is His chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of His chariot?" Should there be one such penitent soul waiting for the coming of Jesus, listening for the rumbling of His chariot wheels to give him "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness," tarry on your knees, tighten your grip of faith, wait! and He that will come shall come; and His arrival shall be all the more welcome and blissful for the delay and the waiting.
IV. Again, we may regard the text as THE LANGUAGE OF THE CONSECRATED BUT CLOUDED CHILD OF GOD, MOURNING PROTRACTED DELAY OF CONSCIOUS COMMUNION. For a time God has seemed to depart: He has withdrawn His light, His conscious presence. No voice speaks, no face beams, no hands leads, no presence remains; the soul presses, as it thinks, near to Him, but lie is not there; it speaks, but there is no response; it gropes in the distressing darkness, but finds Him not. We should, however, never forget that the halting of Jehovah is not to tantalise, but to test; not to inflict unneeded pain, but to produce great spiritual profit. The hiding of His face is simply for the multiplying of His grace. Suspended communion is intended to do for us what the storm does for the tree, what the fire does for the silver and gold, what the lapidary's wheel does for the jewel. Such absence only makes the heart grow fonder. The longing desire for repossession and renewed fellowship is a pledge of a consecrated heart, and a prophecy that sooner or later He will return.
V. Again, look at this text as the language of GOD'S AFFLICTED CHILD DAILY EXPECTING HIS CHARIOT TO TAKE HIM HOME. Home, sweet home! what a precious monosyllable! God sometimes keeps His chosen ones a long time in the final fires, in the finishing process — a long time lingering between the two worlds — suffering, dying. With what a "spirit of expectant hope" and holy calm did Francis Ridley Havergal contemplate and wait for death. There was acute and continued suffering — at times most severe; but the presence of "the King" was fully realised, and His grace was sufficient for her. She startled her medical adviser on one of his early visits by the emphatic inquiry, "Now tell me, doctor, candidly, is there any chance of my seeing Him?" Later on she said, "Not one thing hath failed, tell them all round: trust Jesus: it is simply trusting Jesus." "Spite of the breakers, not a fear." "I am just waiting for Jesus to take me in." "I thought He would have left me here awhile, but He is so good to take me so soon." "I have such an intense craving for the music of heaven." Then, as if "longing to depart and be with Christ, which is far better," she said, "Why tarrieth His chariot?"
(J. O. Keen, D. D.)
PeopleAbinoam, Amalek, Anath, Asher, Barak, Benjamin, Dan, Deborah, Heber, Issachar, Jael, Machir, Naphtali, Reuben, Seir, Shamgar, Sisera, Zebulun
PlacesCanaan, Edom, Gilead, Jordan River, Kishon River, Megiddo, Meroz, Seir, Sinai, Taanach
TopicsApportion, Broidery, Colorful, Colors, Coloured, Colours, Damsel, Damsels, Divers, Divided, Dividing, Double, Dyed, Embroidered, Embroidery, Fair, Female, Females, Finding, Finger-work, Garments, Getting, Girl, Goods, Highly, Ladies, Lady, Maiden, Maidens, Meet, Neck, Necks, Needlework, Needle-work, Pair, Parting, Pieces, Plunder, Prey, Queen, Robes, Sides, Sisera, Sis'era, Sped, Spoil, Spoiler, Spoils, Stuffs, Warrior, Worked
Outline1. The Song of Deborah and Barak
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJudges 5:30
Why satest then among the sheepfolds, to hear the pipings for the flocks? At the watercourses of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.'--JUDGES v. 16 (R.V.). I. The fight. The warfare is ever repeated, though in new forms. In the highest form it is Christ versus the World, And that conflict must be fought out in our own souls first. Our religion should lead not only to accept and rely on what Christ does for us, but to do and dare for Christ. He has given Himself for us, and has thereby …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
'All Things are Yours'
Love Makes Suns
Songs of Deliverance
Whether the Orders Will Outlast the Day of Judgment?
Why is it that Our Lord Has Tarried Till Now? Why Has not the Redeemer Returned Long Ere This?
Hindrances to Revivals.
The Publication of the Gospel
Salvation Published from the Mountains
The Sovereignty of God in Operation
Appendix ix. List of Old Testament Passages Messianically Applied in Ancient Rabbinic Writings
The Hebrews and the Philistines --Damascus
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