Lent Devotion for March 25, Palm Sunday
The Judges reading is a little odd for this Holy Week. Since we are staying with the Year of the Book readings, we’ll continue on in the book of Judges. The account of Palm Sunday is in Matthew 21. I would invite you to read that chapter as well and then to continue reading in Matthew this week in addition to the reading in Judges. The music for this entire week will be Holy Week related.
Reader: "Again the Israelites did evil,”
Response: “in the eyes of the Lord.”
SCRIPTURE: Judges 4:1–9
1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help.
4 Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. 6 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. 7 I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’”
8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”
9 “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Israel just could not get it together! When they had a strong judge to lead them, they were able to stay on the right path. They clearly had weak internal integrity. One of the high marks was when the prophet Deborah became a judge. She ruled with integrity and devotion to the Lord. As a prophet, she heard the word of the Lord and as judge, she ruled in legal disputes. In this case, the Lord spoke to the prophet, Deborah, rather than to the military commander, Barak. The time had come to wipe out their oppressor, King Jabin. Barak was afraid to go into battle by himself and asked Deborah to go with him. We see in this passage the weak military leadership of Barak, and the courage of two women who understood the times and the sad condition of the Israelites. Deborah went with Barak and the woman, Jael, wound up killing the enemy commander by driving a tent peg through his head. Again, the Lord was the one who gave Israel its victory. Eventually, Israel was able to entirely destroy the people of Jabin’s kingdom. A surprising side note, Barak is listed in Hebrews 11 as a man of faith! Following this victory, under Deborah, Israel had peace for forty years. Perhaps the lesson here is that any faith, however weak, enables God to exercise His power to unfold His plan.
"Hosanna in Excelsis” by Placido Domingo, from Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Requiem" (Watch on YouTube)
O Lord, teach me to listen to you. The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them. Give me the courage, the wisdom, and the insight of Deborah. May I exercise faith, however weak it may be. Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart. Let me get used to the sound of Thy Voice, that its tones may be familiar when the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of Thy speaking Voice. And then Lord, let me be obedient and do Thy bidding. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
- A.W. Tozer, from The Pursuit of God, p. 83, adapted Dan Sharp