the Second Sunday of Lent
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Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“Is not the Lord gone out before thee.”
That sentence, “the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord,” comes over and over again so often that it seems to be the only invariable fact in their history. Would not such words frequently occur in our biographies if they could be fully written?
When we read of Israel crying, we know that deliverance will come. Prayer has mercy at its heels.
God uses all classes and both sexes for his work. In this case a man plays a very secondary part, and two women share the honour. One strikes the first blow, and the other the last. Although women do not go out into public preaching, or to fight in the open field like Barak, they can do much at home with the tent-pin of personal address, and in society by encouraging the soldiers of the Lord.
The Lord has not only leading strings to draw his people, but fatal cords with which to draw his foes whithersoever he wills.
He had not faith enough to go alone, and therefore, though he won the battle, he had not the honour of the victory. We lose much when we lean upon an arm of flesh. At the same time he showed a noble spirit in entering upon a conflict in which another was to receive the chief honour.
Many good men only need a call from some brave leader, and they will rally to the standard. God has his ten thousands in our Israel yet. O for the man and the hour! Rather, O for the Lord’s own Spirit to call us to the combat!
Little dreamed he when he sallied forth in his pride that he was being lured to his destruction. Some trust in horses, and some in chariots, but vain are such defences against the Lord of hosts
The word of Deborah sharpened the sword of Barak. Holy women often encourage the Lord’s ministers.
The Lord did it, Barak was but the sword in his hand.
God’s sword never misses one whom he means to smite. This is fatal news for the impenitent.
This instruction was very like the shameful custom which is so common, for servants to be ordered to say, “my mistress is not at home,” when she is in the house all the time. Let not Christians borrow lying habits from heathens.
This would have been a dastardly action had she been moved by motives of gain, but as an act in which she became the executioner of a man condemned of God, and the slayer of the great enemy of her adopted country, her conduct is rightly praised. The patriotic heroine recognized in the fugitive the enemy of her God and of his people, and her eye had no pity, neither did her hand spare him.
So the proud tyrant was disgraced as well as killed. Somewhere or other God has feeble instruments who will be made wise to put down error, and drive a nail through the head of false doctrine. O Lord, arise and plead thine own cause.
O God, be thou no longer still,
Thy foes are leagued against thy law;
Make bare thine arm on Zion’s hill,
Great Captain of our Holy War.
As Amalek and Ishmael
Had war for ever with thy seed,
So all the hosts of Rome and hell
Against thy Son their armies lead.
By Kishon’s brook all Jabin’s band
At thy rebuke were swept away;
O Lord, display thy mighty hand,
A single stroke shall win the day.
O glorious hour! O blest abode!
I shall be near and like my God;
And flesh and sin no more control
The sacred pleasures of my soul.
My flesh shall slumber in the ground,
‘Till the last trumpet’s joyful sound;
Then burst the chains with sweet surprise,
And in my Saviour’s image rise.
Sleep not, soldier of the Cross!
Foes are lurking all around;
Look not here to find repose:
This is but thy battle ground.
Up! and take thy shield and sword;
Up! it is the call of heaven:
Shrink not faithless from thy Lord;
Nobly strive as he hath striven.
To the God of all creation
Let us sing with cheerful voice
In the Rock of our salvation
Let us heartily rejoice.
In his presence let us gather
With glad hearts and thankful lays,
And to God, our heavenly Father,
Show our joy with psalms of praise.
He is King among all nations,
God above all gods is he;
In his hand are earth’s foundations,
The strong hills and rolling sea.
He created land and ocean,
He with beauty clothes the sod;
Let us kneel in deep devotion,
Bless our Maker and our God.
“Lead thy captivity captive.”
We shall now hear Deborah sing her right noble poem of victory. She was both prophetess and poetess. All powers of poetry should be consecrated to the honour of God who bestows them.
Judges 5:1 , Judges 5:2
Unto God all the praise is given. The people were willing, but God made their zealous valour to be successful.
To such a woman, upon such a theme, the loftiest monarchs might wisely listen.
Judges 5:4 , Judges 5:5
All the kings around are bidden to remember the glorious marching of Jehovah, when he led his people from Egypt to Canaan; even on the road to battle the Lord displayed the glory of his majesty.
Judges 5:6 , Judges 5:7
Trade and travelling were at an end, for the country was unsafe.
Husbandry could not be carried on, the people fled to the walled towns for fear.
On account of Israel’s idolatry, they had become so reduced, and their oppressors had so completely disarmed them, that they had no fit weapons for war.
It is indeed a blessing when the governors lead the way in good things.
Justice could not be dispensed, civil affairs were all unkinged, no one was safe, but Deborah and Barak changed the scene.
In times of peace, when no robber was to be feared at the well, this song of gratitude would be sung, and the Lord would be praised.
Mark how the poet glows and burns.
God put Deborah first as ruler, but she did not fail to make honourable mention of all who shared in the fight, nor afterwards to rebuke those who shunned it.
Divided in council and indolent in spirit, Reuben lent no assistance. This was a sad business.
Some with no excuse, and others with a bad excuse, refrained from the patriotic war, and missed its glories. How disgraceful not to do their utmost in such a cause. Lord, save us from cowardice and slothfulness, and let us rather be such bold, self-sacrificing spirits as those the poet sings of in the next verse.
Here we are compelled to make a break, until our next reading.