And they showed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.…
The armies are a contrast in respect of resources, numbers, strategic position, prestige, and skilled leadership. In all these respects the army of Sisera had the advantage of that of Israel. But the Canaanite force was a mercenary one, probably of mixed nationality (hence term "Gentiles"), and enervated with luxury and dominance; whereas Israel was represented by men desperate through long suffering, familiar with the strategic possibilities of their country, and fired with new-found repentance, patriotism, and Divine inspiration. Instances of the impotence of inequalities like these when so compensated for on the spiritual side, to decide results, have been frequent in the history of the world, especially so in that of Israel Here we see that -
I. HE WHO DEPENDS UPON MATERIAL RESOURCES WILL BE SUBJECT -
1. To sudden alarms. It reads like a surprise. They were at ease, relying upon military strength and prestige, when the news of Barak's march upon Mount Tabor came to their ears. But how disproportionate the force Sisera so suddenly summons to arms! It is ignorance trying to cope with experience and skill; scanty equipment confronting all that a great and powerful nation could invent and provide for military defence and offence. Yet already it was a point in favour of Israel that it had aroused such apprehension for so slight a cause. The conscience of the wicked is never easy. The least sign of danger is sufficient to rouse it, and to occasion the most disproportionate exertions.
2. To rash exposure of his resources. "All the chariots of iron," the military power and glory of the oppressor, are at once called into exercise. This was unwise. A little more consideration would have suggested a better and more prudent disposal of his forces. It is evidently feeling, and not far-seeing military prescience, that dictates the pompous demonstration. How often do the oppressors of God's "little ones" drive their tyranny too far, and defeat their own end by over-eagerness and domineering imperiousness! The heart that God has inspired will look upon such things - the threats, etc. - as of little moment.
3. To utter collapse. The suddenness of. the levy was adverse to its efficiency. Subject as Eastern troops are to panics, and difficult as it must have been for such cumbrous vehicles to deploy upon such varying levels, it was only necessary for the handful of Israelites to be led by a skilful general for them to produce confusion and dismay in the unwieldy host. And when once the huge army began to yield, its own size and bulk would make its defeat the more disastrous. And all was risked at once. There was nothing more upon which, quickly enough, to fall back. So in the hour of the Church's peril and extremity God has found his opportunity. The Pope's bull is burnt, and the Reformation commences boldly and decidedly. "Fear not, I am with thee," has been the voice that has made the turning-point in many a career. All the pomp and show of the world is brought to bear upon the saint; he sees through it; a step, a stroke, and it melts like the "airy vision of a dream," and he is free!
II. HE WHO DEPENDS UPON GOD will -
1. See opportunity and hope against overwhelming odds. "Up, for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand. 'So David - "The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine" (1 Samuel 17:37). So Gideon. This is the insight of faith.
2. Make careful preparation. "Trust in God, and keep your powder dry." The means, however inadequate, the best means at our disposal, must be employed. "God doesn't require my knowledge" "No more does he require your ignorance." It is a sign of respect to God, and a mark of thorough-going faith in him, that we make scrupulous use of the means he dictates. Often the "means of grace" are despised, to a church's loss, to a Christian's loss, and sometimes destruction. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, etc.
3. Confide in the Divine presence and promises. Abraham is sure that "God will provide himself a lamb;" David sings: "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, yet will I fear no evil;" and the Hebrew children were confident that the "God whom they served was able to deliver them." Faith as a grain of mustard seed "will remove mountains." - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.