“I will sing.”
I read Judges chapter 4 today, and I was encouraged.
Then I read chapter 5, and I was chagrined.
Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
In the Book of Judges, the Israelites got themselves caught in a vicious cycle. Joshua, their leader, had died, and they seemed to flounder without a leader. They “did evil in the sight of the Lord“, so God gave them over to the consequences of their decisions. Then they cried out to God, so He delivered them from their enemies, and sent a judge to guide them. Then that judge died, and the whole thing started again. The Book of Judges is a good reminder of why people need a leader. (“In those days, Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” ~ That’s a bad way to run a country…)
Chapter 4 is the story of Deborah. Deborah was one of the judges appointed by God, and one day she called for a man named Barak, told him to take 10,000 men, and conquer an army that was under a man named Sisera. Barak very courageously (not!) replied, “If you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” Deborah agreed; they went; and by the end of the chapter, Sisera was dead. The high point of the chapter ~ the part that encouraged me ~ is verse 14: “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” I read that, and I was reminded that there is nowhere that God asks me to go, where He has not gone ahead of me. Nothing is a surprise to Him, therefore, I can know that whatever the trial He allows me to come to, I am prepared, and I am not alone. There is so much confidence in that line! “Go! This is the day the Lord will give you victory in what He has called you to do!” Why can’t we proceed more faithfully? More boldly? Why do we forget there is victory ahead?
And as I was encouraged to tackle the little and big things He has planned for me today, and thankful for the victories He gave me yesterday (and the day before… and the day before…) I continued on to chapter 5, which is titled: The Song of Deborah. It’s 31 verses of Deborah and Barak singing praises to God. Not just for their victory over Sisera, but simply because He is who He is.
And there was the chagrin. When is the last time I thanked Him for the victories in my life?? It seemed almost a foreign concept to me. My prayer requests are very specific, but my praise is very general. I’m very sincere in my praise, but it doesn’t get the attention I give my petitions. I’m afraid there’s no way around the fact that it’s because my petitions are…. about me. And therefore I’m more thoughtful about them. I wish that weren’t the case, but I think it is….
To be honest, I’m not totally sure how to fix this. If I thanked Him for every little, specific, detailed blessing in my life, I’d be thanking Him non-stop. Which I know is His desire, but it’s really hard to do. But I do know I’d like to try. I’d like my prayer requests to be accompanied by a certainty of victory, and then followed by a song of praise.