Stopping to Celebrate

Judges 5:1-31
1Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day:
2“That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord!
3“Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes; to the Lord I will sing; I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel.
4“Lord, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the region of Edom, the earth trembled and the heavens dropped, yes, the clouds dropped water.
5The mountains quaked before the Lord, even Sinai before the Lord, the God of Israel.
6“In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways.
7The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.
8When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. Was shield or spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel?
9My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the Lord.
10“Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys, you who sit on rich carpets and you who walk by the way.
11To the sound of musicians at the watering places, there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the Lord, the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel. “Then down to the gates marched the people of the Lord.
12“Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, break out in a song! Arise, Barak, lead away your captives, O son of Abinoam.
13Then down marched the remnant of the noble; the people of the Lord marched down for me against the mighty.
14From Ephraim their root they marched down into the valley, following you, Benjamin, with your kinsmen; from Machir marched down the commanders, and from Zebulun those who bear the lieutenant’s staff;
15the princes of Issachar came with Deborah, and Issachar faithful to Barak; into the valley they rushed at his heels. Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
16Why did you sit still among the sheepfolds, to hear the whistling for the flocks? Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
17Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan; and Dan, why did he stay with the ships? Asher sat still at the coast of the sea, staying by his landings.
18Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death; Naphtali, too, on the heights of the field.
19“The kings came, they fought; then fought the kings of Canaan, at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo; they got no spoils of silver.
20From heaven the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21The torrent Kishon swept them away, the ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon. March on, my soul, with might!
22“Then loud beat the horses’ hoofs with the galloping, galloping of his steeds.
23“Curse Meroz, says the angel of the Lord, curse its inhabitants thoroughly, because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.
24“Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
25He asked for water and she gave him milk; she brought him curds in a noble’s bowl.
26She sent her hand to the tent peg and her right hand to the workmen’s mallet; she struck Sisera; she crushed his head;
she shattered and pierced his temple.
27Between her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; between her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead.
28“Out of the window she peered, the mother of Sisera wailed through the lattice: ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?’
29Her wisest princesses answer, indeed, she answers herself,
30‘Have they not found and divided the spoil?— A womb or two for every man; spoil of dyed materials for Sisera, spoil of dyed materials embroidered, two pieces of dyed work embroidered for the neck as spoil?’
31“So may all your enemies perish, O Lord! But your friends be like the sun as he rises in his might.” And the land had rest for forty years.

Deborah and Barak gather after their rousing victory over Jabin’s oppression to celebrate the victory of the Lord. What struck me as I read through this song of praise was the immediacy of the offering. Israel is singing of what happened very recently. We have come across many songs of praise in our study of the Psalms. But all of them extol the Lord for what He has done in the distant past. This song is about yesterday, not last year or a thousand years ago. These people take the time to stop and celebrate what God has done for them right now. I am forced to question my own times of praise. Am I quick to recite what God has done for me today?

Deborah rehearses the whole story, start to finish. She speaks of calling the army to war and then extols the fact that a mere thunderstorm sent by God was the beginning of the end for their enemies. She also takes the time to list the tribes who were instrumental in accomplishing this victory and she takes the time to shame those who chose to sit on their porches and disregard God’s call to arms. Finally, she gives credit to Jael who ends the life of Sisera and brings the battle to a final conclusion: God’s victory is complete. Read in English, this song loses its poetic beauty but clearly, Deborah is a woman of creative ability as well as an able leader of her people.

Back to my original question: Am I quick to recite what God has done for me today? Sadly, I would have to say, probably not. I allow my sometimes harried time schedule to steal that joy from life and steal from God the glory that He is due. When something happens that is clearly the hand of God working in my life I either forget to acknowledge Him at all or perhaps at best I lift up a quick “thanks!” This song of Deborah forces me to see that perhaps that is not enough. Perhaps God is worthy of a little more attention than that.
A dear friend of mine is deeply into Bible journaling using vivid colors and spectacular drawings. She takes the time to express what God is doing in these creative expressions. While I enjoy that particular spiritual discipline, I am often guilty of “not having the time” to give expression to my love and gratitude to God in that way. Let me just say, that’s pretty sad. Whenever I use the words “I don’t have the time” I am instantly reminded of all the worthless things that do seem to take up my time. The excuse is lame. While I believe that Deborah’s prayer was largely extemporaneous, she did take the time to share it with the people and that celebration probably took more than a few minutes. I’m reminded of King David as he took the time to celebrate before the Lord while the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem. That parade of people took the time to worship and sacrifice every six steps! That’s a commitment. Never once do you see the words, “but I’m too busy to worship” in all of the Scriptures.

So – this won’t be poetic, but it is all true; in the last three days the Lord has provided opportunity for me to spend time with my grandsons, allowed me to prepare the lessons that are needed for Sunday School this week, been present in a Small Group Bible study, and granted the inspiration necessary to design a piece of graphic art for this year’s Christmas season. To God alone belongs the glory. None of those things are possible without His divine grace and provision. He is an awesome and wonderful God who provides all that I need moment by moment and He is worthy to be praised for all of His gifts. I serve a mighty God and love Him with all my heart. And never can I forget that He has provided for my salvation through the death and resurrection of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ who is ever with me through the power of His Holy Spirit. Blessed be the name of the Lord!