1714.) Psalm 136

November 26, 2015

P136 God is love

Psalm 136   (NIV)

For you on this Thanksgiving Day! God is good, today and every day, and we thank him with all our hearts!

What makes this psalm unique is that the second member of each of the twenty-six verses is the same antiphonal response, “for His mercy endures forever.” “If one everlasting is not enough,” wrote Thomas Goodwin, “there are twenty-six everlastings in this one psalm.”

It is known as the Great Hallel, the singing of which was a regular part of the observance of both Pesach and Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish Passover and New Year celebrations. It was also used in their daily worship.

The repetition of the theme is not tiresome; it says to us that the steadfast love of the Lord needs to be constantly before us and that the subject can never be exhausted. His kindness, loyalty and fidelity never fail.

–William MacDonald

This psalm is an antiphonal liturgy with the memorable refrain, “his steadfast love endures forever.” A priest or soloist would chant the first part of a verse, and the congregation would respond with the refrain. Performances of the liturgy would have been powerful and moving, as the priest added example to example of God’s praise. (The Reformation Bible)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

P136 Earth
God is good as Creator:

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

P136 crossing-red-sea
God is good as Redeemer:

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

P136 Pillar Fire Cloud
God is good as Guide:

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.

P136 King-of-Kings
God is good as Champion:

17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings—
His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan—
His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.

P136 helpGod is good as Helper:

23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

A friend said to me:  “I believe it would be a great exercise for our family to write our own Hallel — naming specifically the Lord’s faithfulness to us. It might help us to remember instead of worrying anew with each new crisis.”

Thank you, Sue! Let’s start today as we are around the feasting table!



Join in  HERE  — “His Love Endures Forever.”


New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
God is love.    http://cordof3strands.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/GodIsLove-1207912618.jpg
Earth hanging in space.    http://stuffpoint.com/space/image/277328-space-earth-from-space.jpg
crossing the Red Sea.    http://mudpreacher.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/moses-crossing-red-sea.jpg
pillar of fire and cloud.    http://dailyprayer.us/photos/Pillar_fire_cloud_david_ascalon.jpg
King of kings.    http://www.christianbanners.com/product_images/uploaded_images/King-of-Kings-Point-Burgund_md.jpg
God is my help.    http://www.mssscrafts.com/memoryverses/2001_4/psalm54_4.gif

1713.) Judges 7

November 25, 2015

“Gideon Attacking” — Marie Odile de LaForcade, 1991.

Judges 7 (New International Version)

Gideon Defeats the Midianites

1 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, 3 announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ ” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

4 But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”

5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.”

6 Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

7 The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.”

Now the Israelite army was less than 1% of its original size and the proportion was 400 Midianite soldiers to each Israelite soldier. Gideon could only trust in God because there was nothing else to trust!

8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.



What must Gideon be thinking??!! From 32,000 men, to 10,000 men, to 300 men — how on earth can he go up against the Midianites, who lie in the valley “thick as locusts,” we will soon read. Life with God! What an adventure! What are you up against? “Glory, honor, power, and strength belong to the Lord,” and through the Lord, to you.

HERE  is “The Battle Belongs to the Lord,” sung by the Maranatha Singers.


Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. 9 During that night the LORD said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. 10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. 12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.

13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”

Only the very poor ate barley bread. The vision meant that the camp of the Midianites would be knocked over by a humble nobody.

14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”

How many Hebrew soldiers does it take to defeat a superior army of Midianites and Amalekites?

300. One to throw the barley loaf and 299 to watch it roll into camp!

15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” 16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.

17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon.’ ”

“The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon” — by Sir Stanley Spencer, 1921 (Tate Collection, London)

19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.

The Midianite soldiers awoke to an explosion of noise, light, and movement coming down on them from all directions. No wonder they thought they were being attacked by an army even bigger than they were.

22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites. 24 Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters of the Jordan ahead of them as far as Beth Barah.”

So all the men of Ephraim were called out and they took the waters of the Jordan as far as Beth Barah. 25 They also captured two of the Midianite leaders, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was by the Jordan.

. . . and Gideon was so thrilled with the victory that he went up and down the whole land, putting Bibles in every hotel room!

The Gideons International was founded in Wisconsin in 1899. Since most of the early members were traveling men, they decided to furnish a Bible in every hotel room of the nation. Now, The Gideons have members in more than 180 countries around the globe, and print Scriptures in more than 80 languages. More than 1.3 billion Bibles and New Testaments have been placed by The Gideons so far, in hotels and motels, schools and universities, medical offices and hospitals, convalescent homes and domestic violence shelters, police and fire stations, jails and prisons . . .

My parents were long-time members of The Gideons. I remember them sharing stories at the dinner table of people who had encountered a loving, forgiving God in the pages of a Gideon Bible, and had their lives changed for all eternity. These stories were fascinating to me! What a great God we serve, who cares about each and every one of us, even (or especially) in our darkest moments!

If you would like to hear a couple stories of lives wonderfully changed by the fact that someone placed a Bible in a public place, or handed out a Bible or New Testament and asked God to put it into the right hands — click HERE.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
LaForcade.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/7-landron_gedeon_a_l_assaut.jpg
Reggie, the RV dog, lapping water.    http://www.barksentry.com/blog/uploaded_images/ReggieLappingWater_092649-733428.jpg
round loaf of barley bread.    http://thehealthyeatingsite.com/wp-content/uploads/barley-bread-loaf.jpg
Spencer.    http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?cgroupid=999999961&workid=13683&searchid=4860&tabview=image
Gideon Bible.    http://mommylife.net/archives/Hotel_Bible.jpg

1712.) Judges 6

November 24, 2015
“Gideon (sketch)” by Anton Franz Maulbertsch, 1794 (Episcopal Palace, Szombathely, Hungary)

“Gideon (sketch)” by Anton Franz Maulbertsch, 1794 (Episcopal Palace, Szombathely, Hungary)

Judges 6 (New International Version)


1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.

God brought Israel into bondage through the oppression of the Midianites. This was an example of God’s grace and mercy to Israel because the oppression would make them turn back to God. It would have been worse if God had just left them alone.

–David Guzik

2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it.

The Midianites were a desert-dwelling people and they dominated Israel because of their effective use of camels!

6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.

“Well, I guess there’s nothing left to do but pray.” Forgive us, Lord, when we have this same attitude.

7 When the Israelites cried to the LORD because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

The real problem is not the Midianites. It is the lack of obedience on the part of the Israelites.



How many times have we read that God says to the Israelites, “I am the Lord your God”?  What an encouragement for Gideon!

How many times have we read that Christ says to us “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”?  What an encouragement for us!

“I AM” by Mark Schultz is a favorite song at our house!  HERE  it is.


11 The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.

This was both difficult and humiliating. Wheat was threshed in open spaces, typically on a hill-top so the breeze could blow away the chaff. Wheat was not normally threshed in a sunken place like a winepress.

–David Guzik

“And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under the oak” by James Shaw Crompton

“And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under the oak” by James Shaw Crompton

12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

13 “But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

Gideon indeed had might, but not as we might normally think.

  • Gideon had the might of the humble, threshing wheat on the winepress floor
  • Gideon had the might of the caring, because he cared about the low place of Israel
  • Gideon had the might of knowledge, because he knew God did great things in the past
  • Gideon had the might of the spiritually hungry because he wanted to see God to great works again
  • Gideon had the might of the teachable, because he listened to what the Angel of the Lord said
  • Gideon had the might of the weak, and God’s strength is perfected in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)

–David Guzik

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

In Gideon’s mind, victory over the Midianites was an impossibility, and he was absolutely right! The Midianites, along with their allies, overwhelmed the feeble Hebrews. Yet the moment God told Gideon to fight them, victory was no longer an impossibility!

When Jesus commanded His small group of followers to make disciples of all nations, was that possible (Matthew 28:19)? Certainly, if Jesus said it was! When Jesus told his disciples to love their enemies, was He being realistic? Of course, because He was the One who would achieve reconciliation through them (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).

Do you treat commands like these as implausible? Do you modify God’s word to find an interpretation that seems reasonable to you? Don’t discount what is possible with God (Philippians 4:13). When God gives an assignment, it is no longer an impossibility, but rather it is an absolute certainty. When God gives you a seemingly impossible task, the only thing preventing it from coming to pass is your disobedience. When God speaks, it can scare you to death! He will lead you to do things that are absolutely impossible in your own strength. But God will grant you victory, step by step, as you obey Him.

How do you respond to assignments that seem impossible? Do you write them off as unattainable? Or do you immediately adjust your life to God’s revelation, watching with anticipation to see how He will accomplish His purposes through your obedience? God wants to do the impossible through your life. All He requires is your obedience.

15 “But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

16 The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”

Someone once asked Francis of Assisi how he was able to accomplish so much. He replied, “This may be why:  The Lord looked down from heaven and said, ‘Where can I find the weakest, littlest man of earth?’ Then he saw me and said, ‘I’ve found him. I will work through him, and he won’t be proud of it. He’ll see that I am only using him because of his insignificance.’”

God is looking for ordinary people for extraordinary work.

–from Our Daily Bread, March 28, 2010

17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”

And the LORD said, “I will wait until you return.”

19 Gideon went in, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah  of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.

“The Sacrifice of Gideon” by Francois Bouchert, 1728 (The Louvre, Paris)

“The Sacrifice of Gideon” by Francois Bouchert, 1728 (The Louvre, Paris)

20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 With the tip of the staff that was in his hand, the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared. 22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, “Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”

23 But the LORD said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”

24 So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

2 Peter 3:14-15 (NASB)

Be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

25 That same night the LORD said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old.  Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”

In Gideon’s community, Baal was worshipped right along side of Yahweh. God called Gideon to get his own house in order first.

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

28 In the morning when the men of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!

29 They asked each other, “Who did this?”

When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”

30 The men of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

Ancient Israel worshipped Baal because he was thought to be the god of weather, and they relied on the weather for agricultural prosperity. In the hard economic times because of the Midianite oppression, people worshipped Baal all the more, not understanding that they only made things worse by not turning to God.

31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” 32 So that day they called Gideon “Jerub-Baal, ” saying, “Let Baal contend with him,” because he broke down Baal’s altar.

Gideon’s father made a very logical argument for preserving his son’s life. Since Baal was the offended party, he could defend himself.

This is similar to what happened during a great move of God in the South Seas in the 19th Century. One tribal chief was converted to Christianity and he gathered up all the idols of his people. He told the idols he was going to destroy them, and then he gave them the chance to run away. He destroyed all the ones that sat there like dumb statues.

–David Guzik

33 Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon,

and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.

Gideon pointing to the fleece — illustrated manuscript from the 1170’s (Getty Museum)

Gideon pointing to the fleece — illustrated manuscript from the 1170’s (Getty Museum)

36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—-a bowlful of water.

39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

We've been fleeced!

We’ve been fleeced!

Here we are reading about Gideon and his fleece of wool. Actually, Gideon asks for, and receives, three signs from God. First, the angel of the Lord causes a fire to miraculously appear and consume his offering. Second, his fleece of wool gets wet from the dew while everything else stays dry. Third, the situation is reversed and the fleece stays dry while everything else gets wet from the dew. This is interesting reading, but it isn’t a lesson in how we’re supposed to deal with God. We’re to be people of faith, trusting in God and learning to hear his voice.  We’re not supposed to be sign-seekers and deal-makers.  The star of this story is not Gideon, a near heathen who keeps getting signs from God confirming what he’s clearly already been told to do.  The Star is God, who is patient even when Gideon keeps asking him to prove his own words.  I’m thankful for a patient God who puts up with my shallowness even as he works to produce in me a more mature relationship with himself. Generally speaking though, I need to just do whatever it is God has made clear to me without “putting out a fleece.”

by Pastor Scott Cundiff



New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Maulbertsch.    http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/2350/gideonsketch1794
Crompton.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/6-crompton.jpg
the battle is won.    https://aviesplace.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/the-battle-is-already-won.jpg
St. Francis of Assisi.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/6a00d83454ad5369e20105353a8a6a970c-320wi.jpg
Boucher.    http://www.culture.gouv.fr/Wave/image/joconde/0001/m503604_97de24045_p.jpg
Be at peace.    http://notesalongthepath.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/be-at-peace-god-is-in-charge.jpg
altar, broken idol.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/6-altaridolbroken.jpg
Holy Spirit of God.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/3-holyspirit2.jpg?w=450
Gideon pointing to the fleece.    http://www.jesuswalk.com/gideon/images/gideon_getty_ms223x300.jpg
fleeced alpacas.    http://carolzahn.com/FinalProject/images/alpaca6.jpg

1711.) Judges 5

November 23, 2015

“Deborah: Words, Women, and War” by Nathan Moskowitz

Judges 5 (New International Version)

The Song of Deborah

1 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:

Judges chapter 5 tells the same story as Judges chapter 4, but in poetic form.  Scholars consider this to be one of the earliest examples of Hebrew poetry (12th century BCE).

2 “When the princes in Israel take the lead,
when the people willingly offer themselves—
praise the LORD!

3 “Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
I will sing to  the LORD, I will sing;
I will make music to  the LORD, the God of Israel.

Psalm 27:6 (ESV)

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts ofjoy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.



HERE  is “Deborah’s Theme”  by Italian composer  Ennio Morricone, conducting.  From the movie Once Upon a Time in America.


4 “O LORD, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the land of Edom,
the earth shook, the heavens poured,
the clouds poured down water.

5 The mountains quaked before the LORD, the One of Sinai,
before the LORD, the God of Israel.

6 “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
in the days of Jael, the roads were abandoned;
travelers took to winding paths.

7 Village life  in Israel ceased,
ceased until I, Deborah, arose,
arose a mother in Israel.

“I Arose a Mother in Israel” painting by Elspeth Young, who gave Deborah a sword as a symbol not of fighting, but of the Word of the Lord and His promise of deliverance.

8 When they chose new gods,
war came to the city gates,
and not a shield or spear was seen
among forty thousand in Israel.

9 My heart is with Israel’s princes,
with the willing volunteers among the people.
Praise the LORD!

10 “You who ride on white donkeys,
sitting on your saddle blankets,
and you who walk along the road,
consider 11 the voice of the singers  at the watering places.
They recite the righteous acts of the LORD,
the righteous acts of his warriors  in Israel.
“Then the people of the LORD
went down to the city gates.

12 ‘Wake up, wake up, Deborah!
Wake up, wake up, break out in song!
Arise, O Barak!
Take captive your captives, O son of Abinoam.’

Hebrews 11:32-33 (NLT)

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.  By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them.

13 “Then the men who were left
came down to the nobles;
the people of the LORD
came to me with the mighty.

14 Some came from Ephraim, whose roots were in Amalek;
Benjamin was with the people who followed you.
From Makir captains came down,
from Zebulun those who bear a commander’s staff.

15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah;
yes, Issachar was with Barak,
rushing after him into the valley.
In the districts of Reuben
there was much searching of heart.

16 Why did you stay among the campfires
to hear the whistling for the flocks?
In the districts of Reuben
there was much searching of heart.

17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan.
And Dan, why did he linger by the ships?
Asher remained on the coast
and stayed in his coves.

18 The people of Zebulun risked their very lives;
so did Naphtali on the heights of the field.

19 “Kings came, they fought;
the kings of Canaan fought
at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo,
but they carried off no silver, no plunder.

20 From the heavens the stars fought,
from their courses they fought against Sisera.

21 The river Kishon swept them away,
the age-old river, the river Kishon.
March on, my soul; be strong!

22 Then thundered the horses’ hoofs—
galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds.

23 ‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the LORD.
‘Curse its people bitterly,
because they did not come to help the LORD,
to help the LORD against the mighty.’

“Jael and Sisero” by Artemisia Gentileschi, 1620 (Budapest Museum)

24 “Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
most blessed of tent-dwelling women.

25 He asked for water, and she gave him milk;
in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.

26 Her hand reached for the tent peg,
her right hand for the workman’s hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.

27 At her feet he sank,
he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell—dead.

“The Mother of Sisera Looked Out a Window” by British painter Albert Joseph Moore. Ah, there are many victims in a war.

28 “Through the window peered Sisera’s mother;
behind the lattice she cried out,
‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’

29 The wisest of her ladies answer her;
indeed, she keeps saying to herself,

30 ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils:
a girl or two for each man,
colorful garments as plunder for Sisera,
colorful garments embroidered,
highly embroidered garments for my neck—
all this as plunder?’

31 “So may all your enemies perish, O LORD!
But may they who love you be like the sun
when it rises in its strength.”
Then the land had peace forty years.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Moskowitz.    http://www.womeninthebible.net/1.8.De1.jpg
quill pen.    http://mozziestar.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/ink.jpg
music staff.    http://www.clipartbest.com/cliparts/di7/gz6/di7gz67i9.gif
Young.    http://alyoung.com/Art_Gallery/Elspeth_Young/Women_in_Scripture/Deborah.jpg
walk by faith.     http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2332/2330771133_84e0a2570e.jpg
Gentileschi.     https://www.sartle.com/sites/default/files/images/artwork/1000125.jpg
Moore.    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5b/Moore_Albert_Joseph_The_Mother_of_Sisera_Looked_out_a_Window.jpg

1710.) Judges 4

November 20, 2015

I picture Golda Meir (prime minister of Israel 1969-1974) and Deborah as being quite similar; both were national military leaders and “mothers of Israel.”

Judges 4 (New International Version)


1 After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the LORD.

Seeing the continual drift to disobedience makes one less and less confident of man but more and more impressed with the mercy and grace of God. Though Israel kept forsaking Him, He kept working with them.

–David Guzik

2 So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Because he had nine hundred iron chariots and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, (note: 20 years!!) they cried to the LORD for help.

4 Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading  Israel at that time.

The Bible tells us of several other prophetesses: Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), Anna (Luke 2:36), and Philip’s four daughters (Acts 21:8-9).

5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided.

Psalm 92:12 (ESV)

The righteous flourish like the palm tree.

6 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. 7 I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’ ”

8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”

Not that Barak is afraid!

No, he is relating to Deborah the way a king of Israel should relate to the prophet of God.  The king stands under the Law of Moses, like anyone else, and he must share leadership with God’s prophet.  As it says in Deuteronomy 18:15 — “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites.  You must listen to him.”

Or as Moses modeled for us how to obey the Lord in Exodus 33:15 — “If Your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”

9 “Very well,” Deborah said, “I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this,  the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh, 10 where he summoned Zebulun and Naphtali. Ten thousand men followed him, and Deborah also went with him.



DWELLING readers know that I am a Ken Medema fan!  HERE  is one of his edgier songs, written for a youth event several years ago. Love the layers of this piece!

Is this a good song for honoring Deborah? I think so, and I hope it helps us to consider, in our own time and place, how we ought to pick up some of her courage and “Color Outside the Lines.”


11 Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ brother-in-law,  and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.

12 When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera gathered together his nine hundred iron chariots and all the men with him, from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River.

14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the LORD has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, followed by ten thousand men. 15 At Barak’s advance, the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled on foot.

In the next chapter we learn what happened:  The Lord sent a rainstorm and allowed the Kishon River to overflow; all the iron chariots got stuck in the mud and had to be abandoned.

16 But Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim. All the troops of Sisera fell by the sword; not a man was left.

17 Sisera, however, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there were friendly relations between Jabin king of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite.

18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my Lord , come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she put a covering over him.

19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.

20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say ‘No.’ ”

21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.

“Jael and Sisera” by Felice Ficherelli (Uffizi, Florence, Italy)

22 Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead.

“Study of Jael in red chalk” by Carlo Maratta (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

from Peculiar Treasures:  A Biblical Who’s Who
by Frederick Buechner


A Canaanite war-lord named Sisera had recently been trounced by an Israelite strong-man named Barak and was heading for the border to save his skin. On the way, he was invited to hide out with a Kenite woman named Jael, who belonged to a tribe which had not been involved in the skirmish at all. This was his second bad break that day.

Jael was all smiles as she issued her invitation and gave him the red carpet treatment. She fixed him a drink and suggested he stretch out for a while on the couch. While he was asleep, she crept in and disposed of him by the ingenious if cumbersome technique of hammering a tent-peg in one temple and out the other.

The female judge Deborah wrote a song in her honor in which she referred to her as “most blessed among women” for the job she had done, and Jael has been remembered as a great hero and patriot ever since.

In view of the fact that her victim (a) was her guest and (b) asleep and (c) had never harmed a hair of either her head or her people’s, it would seem that to call her deed heroic is to stretch the term to the breaking point. As for calling it patriotic, if she had done it for love of country—maybe. But (a) her country had no quarrel with Sisera and (b) if she killed him for anything but kicks, it was out of love for nothing more exalted that the idea of maybe getting a pay-off from the Israelites the next time they hit town. It is not the only instance, of course, of how people in wartime get medals for doing what in peacetime would get them the chair.

23 On that day God subdued Jabin, the Canaanite king, before the Israelites. 24 And the hand of the Israelites grew stronger and stronger against Jabin, the Canaanite king, until they destroyed him.

from Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain:

Somewhere in this part of the country—I do not know exactly where—Israel fought another bloody battle a hundred years later. Deborah, the prophetess, told Barak to take ten thousand men and sally forth against another King Jabin who had been doing something. Barak came down from Mount Tabor, twenty or twenty-five miles from here, and gave battle to Jabin’s forces, who were in command of Sisera. Barak won the fight, and while he was making the victory complete by the usual method of exterminating the remnant of the defeated host, Sisera fled away on foot, and when he was nearly exhausted by fatigue and thirst, one Jael, a woman he seems to have been acquainted with, invited him to come into her tent and rest himself. The weary soldier acceded readily enough, and Jael put him to bed. He said he was very thirsty, and asked his generous preserver to get him a cup of water. She brought him some milk, and he drank of it gratefully and lay down again, to forget in pleasant dreams his lost battle and his humbled pride. Presently when he was asleep she came softly in with a hammer and drove a hideous tent-pen down through his brain!

“For he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.” Such is the touching language of the Bible.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Golda Meir.    http://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/images/members/meir_golda.jpg
palm tree.    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2608/4080312692_c39d2deb21.jpg
Vaya con Dios  (Go with God).     http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41np8fwcSFL.jpg
rain.    http://nickbaines.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/rain.jpg
Ficherelli.    http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product.php?xProd=53396&xSec=16&xCmd=gallery
Maratta.    https://torahsparks.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/jael_study-of-jael-in-red-chalk-by-carlo-maratta.jpg
Mark Twain.   http://bolstablog.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/mark-twain-white-hair.jpg

1709.) Judges 3:12-31

November 19, 2015

. . . said Ehud, and it worked to his advantage!

Judges 3:12-31  (NIV)


12 Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and because they did this evil the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. 13 Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms (that is, Jericho).  14 The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.

15 Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite.

In the ancient world left-handed people were often forced to become right-handed. This made Ehud’s standing as a left-handed man more unusual.

–David Guzik



HERE  is Scriabin’s beautiful “Nocturne for the Left Hand Alone,” played by Antonio Iturrioz.  Alexander Scriabin, 1872-1915, was a Russian composer and pianist; Tolstoy described his music as “a sincere expression of genius.”


The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half  long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way the men who had carried it. 19 At the idols  near Gilgal he himself turned back and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.”

The king said, “Quiet!” And all his attendants left him.

20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly.

by dm

by J. M. Smith  — JMSmith.org/art

A right-handed person would have strapped the dagger on his left thigh in order to grab it with his right hand at the opportune moment, and Eglon would have been on guard when seeing a man’s right hand go under his cloak. But left-handed Ehud was not suspected when he slipped his left hand beneath his cloak to grab his short sword!

22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch ; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the house.” 25 They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.

26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.

28 “Follow me,” he ordered, “for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him down and, taking possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab, they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not a man escaped. 30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.

Really, couldn’t you see this whole situation as part of a James Bond movie?!  “Bond.  Ehud Bond.”

And for the record, Sean Connery is THE James Bond; all other actors in that role are also-rans.


31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.

If Ehud was James Bond, I think Shamgar was more Chuck Norris!

And by the way, an oxgoad is a traditional farming tool used to prod and guide livestock.  It could be up to 10 feet long, with a metal spear-like point on one end, and a metal flattened plate, like a paddle, on the other.  Just the kind of weapon that would appeal to Chuck!


There was nothing spectacular about an ox goad. But God can use, and wants to use, whatever is in our hands. Shamgar was merely a laborer doing his job; but he took what was in his hand when prompted by God and he rescued the people of God from their enemies. Shamgar was like Moses and his shepherd’s staff or David and his shepherd’s sling. God uses simple things to accomplish great things.

What do you have in your hand? Do you sing? Make jam? Write? Teach? Cook? Draw up architectural plans? Operate on sick people? Remove teeth? Push a wheel chair? Grow plants for food? Visit people in the nursing home? Offer it to God for him to use it for his good purposes!


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Yes, I am left-handed.    http://www.jasonslater.co.uk/images/lefthanded.jpg
left hand print.    http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/2008/LeftHand_files/image001.jpg
Ehud kills Eglon.    http://jmsmith.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Ehud-and-Eglon.jpg
James Bond.   http://shipbright.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/sean-connery8.jpg
Chuck Norris.    http://msmills.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/chuck_norris.jpg

1708.) Judges 3:1-11

November 18, 2015

Perhaps this bronze figure is a Canaanite warrior god, with his left hand holding part of a shield and his right raised to throw a spear.  It is dated to the early 2nd Millennium BCE, and measures about 5.5 by 1.5 inches.

Judges 3:1-11 (New International Version)

1 These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan 2 (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): 3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo  Hamath. 4 They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the LORD’s commands, which he had given their forefathers through Moses.

5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 6 They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.

Psalm 106:34-39 (NLT)

Israel failed to destroy the nations in the land,
as the Lord had commanded them.
Instead, they mingled among the pagans
and adopted their evil customs.
They worshiped their idols,
which led to their downfall.
They even sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons.
They shed innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters.
By sacrificing them to the idols of Canaan,
they polluted the land with murder.
They defiled themselves by their evil deeds,
and their love of idols was adultery in the Lord’s sight.


Othniel, the Kenizzite — by James Tissot

7 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. 8 The anger of the LORD burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim,  to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. 9 But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. 10 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him,

so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. 11 So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.

Othniel, Israel’s first judge

–his name could be translated “lion of God”
–he conquered the town of Debir and won Caleb’s daughter as his wife
–he smote the king Cushan-Rishathaim and delivered peace to the Israelites for an entire generation



HERE  is “My Deliverer (Is the Lord)” — a Chris Tomlin piece, which puts all the praise before the Lord, where it belongs.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
tall bronze figure.    http://www.heliosgallery.com/noframes/wasian/images/tallbronzefigure.jpg
Failure.    http://sharun.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/failure0400.jpg
Tissot.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/3-tissot-othniel2.jpg
Holy Spirit of God.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/3-holyspirit1.jpg?w=450
lion.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/3-lion.jpg?w=450


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