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Jael shows Barak Sisera dead

Jael shows Barak Sisera dead

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. – Hebrews 11:32-34

Barak

Barak was a judge who served with Deborah, also a judge. Israel had begun to fall into sin again and the king of Canaan was oppressing them. Barak, a military commander and a judge was appointed to drive Jabin and his armies out of Israel. However, while he is remembered for his faith he is also known for relying on Deborah to win the victory. He was unsure on his own but when Deborah went with him into battle he led the armies of Israel to victory.

 Because he insisted that Deborah go with him instead of leading as he should have, Barak was told that a woman would get credit for killing the commander of Jabin’s army, a man named Sisera. So while Barak’s army drove them out and defeated them Sisera escaped.

Sisera fled and hid in a tent, resting from the battle. The tent was where Jael and her husband Heber lived. Jael asked him to come rest, covered him with a blanket, and when he asked for water to drink she gave him milk instead. He was weary and surely the milk helped induce sleep. As he was drifting off he told her to stand guard and deny that he was there if anyone came looking for him.

As surely as Deborah had prophesied to Barak for his dependence upon a woman, a woman, Jael, killed Sisera. While he was sleeping she took a tent peg and a hammer and nailed him to the floor, driving the peg through his temple through to the ground. She then showed his dead body to Barak who had been pursuing him.

 

Barak, with Deborah’s help, led the nation to freedom from oppression and into a time of peace. He was faithful. He did ultimately trust God and God gave him the victory.

As we study these men and women we need to pause every once in a while and remember the lessons learned through these snapshots of the history of God’s people. Today, ask yourself, “What is God doing in my life right now that only He can get the glory for?” If you have to think too long without an answer get to praying. God delights in the impossible and He alone deserves the glory. Ask Him to do things in your life that only He can take credit for. Glorify and magnify Him.

Samson

Samson was born to Manoah and his wife, who was barren. Israel had fallen into sin and was being overrun by the Philistines, a bad situation that just got worse and worse for 40 years. All of course because of the people’s sin. But God sent Samson to judge Israel and bring them freedom from the Philistines and to turn them back to God.

What we learn here in the text is that God can and does use sinners. I am glad, because “all have sinned” and if God did not use sinners then He would not have anyone to use. Of course, we also learn from the story of Samson the great and terrible price for sin. God uses sinners and He forgives sin, but the wages of sin is still death.

As Samson was appointed by God to deliver His people he was given by God great strength. The Spirit of the Lord would come upon him and he could do incredible feats, such as killing a lion with his bare hands. Other situations find him being betrayed and as a result burning down the Philistines wheat fields and even on one occasion when they tried to arrest him, he broke free from the ropes that bound him and with the jawbone of a dead donkey as a weapon he killed 1,000 Philistine men. Another time when they tried to trap him he tore the huge and heavy city gates off the wall and carried them to the top of a hill. As they say in the South, “All by his lonesome.”

He did have a weakness in the midst of the amazing feats of strength though. Women. Women who worshiped false gods. One in particular, a woman named Delilah, caught his eye. The Philistines knew of his interest in her and induced her to seduce him. She tried and tried to find out what caused his great strength and time and time again he misled her and would not tell her. He really was daft you know, loving this woman who over and over tried to get him captured or killed.

The secret to his strength of course was that he was empowered by the Holy Spirit. He had been set apart for this work and was a Nazarite. As a result of this vow he did not cut his hair. Eventually he told Delilah that the source of his strength was that his hair was not cut. So what did she do? He ended up with a hair cut, no strength, and a new set of chains to wear. When the vow was violated it says that the Spirit departed from him. There was no anointing any longer. He was like any other man.

He was captured, bound, his eyes put out, and he was made to work as a grain grinder, pushing a stone in a mill in a prison. At one point the Philistines were celebrating having defeated their enemy and capturing Samson so he was paraded in front of them and their gods were worshiped and exalted because he had become a prisoner. He asked a boy to help him lean up against the pillars of the pagan temple where this party was being thrown. He prayed for strength and vengeance and God answered. He tore the pillars down and the temple collapsed, killing around 3,000 Philistines. He died himself, but did so in an act that once again helped rescue Israel from their persecutors.

 Samson teaches is that no one is above sin and no one can succeed without God and His strength. As he is mentioned in Hebrews 11, he had faith. He trusted God and leaned upon Him and died defending His people.

(tomorrow: Jephthah)

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