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Deborah’s Song

February 8, 2021

“But may your friends be like the sun as it rises in its might.” Judges 5:31b

I confess that I did not immediately recall the context of today’s Old Testament verse from the Daily Texts. So I looked it up! These words are last words of the Song of Deborah. Deborah, you’ll recall, was the fourth judge of Israel. Her song is one of the great songs of the Old Testament, so often sung by women.

She sings of the events that have just unfolded. The Israelites had been oppressed for twenty years by King Jabin of Canaan and his military commander, Sisera. Deborah, who was a prophet as well as a judge, received a word from the Lord. As chapter four unfolds, we see Israel’s general, Barak, lead his forces into battle. With God on their side, the forces of Sisera are routed. Sisera himself meets his untimely end at the hands of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, who wins the award for most creative use of a tent peg. Let no one say the Bible isn’t interesting!

Deborah ends her song with a prayer, that those who loves the Lord would rise with the might of the sun. The people are blessed with forty years of peace or, as the Bibles has it, “the land had rest forty years.” We know what Deborah did not, of course. Long after the time of the judges, long after the monarchy had come and gone, Jesus would come to win for us the battle against the forces of sin, death, and the devil. He does so not with military might but through love, offering himself as the Paschal victim who lays down his life and takes it up again. In Jesus, Deborah’s song is fulfilled, for we rise forever with the might of the Son.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God, in the rising of the sun we are reminded of your power and your love. May we always be counted among your friends, those for whom Jesus was raised from the dead. Let us reflect his light today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Impression, Sunrise, Claude Monet, 1872 (public domain). I looked up some art depicting the story of Jael, but frankly it’s all pretty disturbing. French Impressionism seemed a better way to start the day.

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