“When they chose new gods, then there was war in the gates; if only a shield or a spear could be seen among forty-thousand in Israel. My heart is toward those who make decrees for Israel who enlisted themselves with the people. Bless Yahweh.”
There is a simple principle at work here…it is God who keeps the gates secure. When one turns away from God, then God lifts his hands of protection and you will find war at your gates. Such applies to our churches today and it applies to our homes. Dear friends, do not turn to other gods, they cannot protect you or defend your home from strife. Pursuing them will only bring misery.
The language of spear and shield is language that reminds us that the people were wholly unprepared for war (remember, the reason that the pagans have been left in the land is to teach the people warfare — Judges 3:2. Thus the people stand unprepared to make a defense…just as are many people in our congregations. Yet, we are called to always be ready to make a reasoned defense of the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15).
So, like Deborah, as a pastor, my heart goes out to those who willingly seek to do what is the right thing, yet have not been equipped as they ought. Some of our Bibles will translate the term “commanders,” but I think that the picture that Deborah is painting is that of those civil leaders in the community taking a stand and enlisting even though they are possibly the least qualified to do so…doing the right thing, though, because it is the right thing to do. And again, we close this verse with the refrain, “Bless Yahweh.” Indeed, may all we do, bless the Lord.