Judges 5:28
Sisera's mother looked through the window; she peered through the lattice and lamented: 'Why is his chariot so long in coming? What has delayed the clatter of his chariots?'
The Delayed ChariotJ. O. Keen, D. D.Judges 5:28-30

A moral perplexity to modern times. This arises from the advance, amounting almost to a revolution, in the spiritual sentiment of the world. It is from the higher platform of the New Testament that we see the deed in its true relations and proportions.

I. ITS JUSTIFICATION. There are several grounds, upon any or all of which the deed may be defended.

1. That of a relative and imperfect morality. Morality in that age was not perfectly revealed or realised. With increasing light of revelation and spiritual experience come new moral levels and tests. A thing may be comparatively or relatively right which is not absolutely so. The fact that we condemn the action is not due to our superior natural light, but simply to the teachings of Christianity, the outgrowth and perfecting of the crude morality of the Old Testament.

2. On the principle that the obligation to tell the truth depends upon the existence of a normal and friendly relation between men; the permission to kill carrying with it that of dissimulation (Mozley).

3. Because Jael followed as a mere instrument the impulse of the Absolute. Is it not credible that persons may be moved by a superior reason to do things justifiable from the standpoint of that superior reason, but which, if they fully realised what they were doing, would be utterly unlawful for them to do?

II. ITS BEARINGS UPON INSPIRATION, etc. OF HOLY SCRIPTURE. The inspiration of Scripture cannot be affected by the inspired sanction of such a deed. Inspiration does not necessarily involve a knowledge of the" whole counsel of God." It has its degrees, and is reliable so far as it goes. A merely human production would have avoided such apparent self-contradictions. That there are moral mysteries and difficulties in the Bible, which are nevertheless seen to have possible solutions beyond the immediate knowledge of man, is a strong presumption in favour of its being Divine.

III. HOW FAR IS JAEL AN EXAMPLE TO BE IMITATED? In no wise. This is an exceptional case, all of whose circumstances must be taken into account She is, like many whom a special destiny seems to isolate from their fellows, almost to be pitied, save for the thought that she acted as the servant of God. The instincts by which we condemn her deed are evidently of God, and must therefore be followed. - M.

Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?
The language of this hoping, yet half-despairing and disconsolate mother, has been, I presume, the language of multitudes some time or other in the stern fight of existence and the moral campaign of consecrated life. When God has tarried in His pavilion of cloud, withholding both Himself and His blessings, our hearts have struggled and our lips quivered with wondering desire to know the reason "why," until impatience has bubbled over in anxious inquiry, "Why is His chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of His chariots?" God stays not from us because, like Sisera, He is a dismounted general and a slain warrior: men fall, but He never. He always has a sublime design in His tarrying, a good and satisfactory reason for His delay, which He does not always make known, but leaves us to spell out as best we can for ourselves. He tarries to do us good, and not to taunt; to check our impatience and correct our hurrying spirit, and not to discourage or distress. He will come to us if we only wait long enough: and His coming shall be as the morning — fresh, fragrant, and radiant.

I. Let us look at this text as the language of the UNIVERSAL CHURCH. The Church in the wilderness, the Church militant, for nearly nineteen centuries has been breathing fervently the prayer commanded by her Founder — "Thy kingdom come." And in her anticipation of the answer and the advent, in her longings after complete victory, universal regeneration, when truth and peace shall sway her sceptre in every land, and the Christ-King shall be enthroned in every heart — I say, in her longings after this glorious era, she plaintively ejaculates, "Why is His chariot so long in coming?" "Why does my Lord delay His coming?" The progress of Christianity, the achievements and triumphs of truth, we are told, have been so slow, so few, so limited, for the time in which it has been at work, that our learned doubters and avowed foes have written upon it in big letters, "Failure!" Well, we are not surprised at that. Had there not been something about it which largely savoured of success, they would not have been so hasty to label it with failure! Moreover, slowness of progress, of growth, is no proof of failure. Are not the greatest works of God and man the result of slow processes? I would ask, must the corn be pronounced a failure because it does not wave in golden harvests after a night and a day's growth? Must the old sun be pronounced a failure because it does not march instantaneously, but by degrees, to the meridian? What if Christianity has been slow in its march? — it has been sure. It has been moving in no circle of uncertainty, no region of doubt and ill-based probabilities! It has been making solid headway. And if other systems of religion — false and flashy — have sprung up with the rapidity of the mushroom, they have been as fragile and unenduring.

II. Look at this text as the language of the INDIVIDUAL CHURCH DESIRING AND EXPECTING A SPECIAL VISIT FROM HEAVEN. The chilling winds of worldliness have swept over the Church, or the mildew of indifference has fallen on some, and the cankerous rust of idleness on others, while some have become intoxicated with pride, and others poisoned with heresy, numbed with doubt, and wild with the delirium of controversy. So that the Church is bordering on lifelessness, its strength low, its energies exhausted, its influence and glory almost gone. The few in her that have not defiled their garments nor indulged in worldly ease, who are true and loyal, and steadfast and earnest, tremble for the "ark of God," and grieve to see it drifting to the fatal rocks; and in agony of soul cry, "Why is His chariot so long in coming to our help?" Hold on faith, hold on patience, hold on pleading — loosen not your grasp of Omnipotence, your Jacob-like grip on God — cease not to ask, to seek, to knock, to wait: in Jehovah's own time the golden gates will open, the flaming steed will rush out. He who speeds His way through a wilderness of worlds, through untraversed solitudes of space, will steer His glad "chariot" to your sanctuary and in the midst of the Church, and scatter the gifts of His grace and the benedictions of His love.

III. Look at this text as the language of the PENITENT SINNER SEEKING AND DESIRING CHRIST. A penitent soul is one of earth's grandest pictures. When the obdurate heart melts and weeps, and the unwilling knees bend in lowly submission, and the prayer uprises to heaven, "What must I do to be saved?" and the poor sinner is passing through the sharp ordeal of repentance, then it is we read in the mystic language of tears and sighs the plaintive words of my text, "Why is His chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of His chariot?" Should there be one such penitent soul waiting for the coming of Jesus, listening for the rumbling of His chariot wheels to give him "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness," tarry on your knees, tighten your grip of faith, wait! and He that will come shall come; and His arrival shall be all the more welcome and blissful for the delay and the waiting.

IV. Again, we may regard the text as THE LANGUAGE OF THE CONSECRATED BUT CLOUDED CHILD OF GOD, MOURNING PROTRACTED DELAY OF CONSCIOUS COMMUNION. For a time God has seemed to depart: He has withdrawn His light, His conscious presence. No voice speaks, no face beams, no hands leads, no presence remains; the soul presses, as it thinks, near to Him, but lie is not there; it speaks, but there is no response; it gropes in the distressing darkness, but finds Him not. We should, however, never forget that the halting of Jehovah is not to tantalise, but to test; not to inflict unneeded pain, but to produce great spiritual profit. The hiding of His face is simply for the multiplying of His grace. Suspended communion is intended to do for us what the storm does for the tree, what the fire does for the silver and gold, what the lapidary's wheel does for the jewel. Such absence only makes the heart grow fonder. The longing desire for repossession and renewed fellowship is a pledge of a consecrated heart, and a prophecy that sooner or later He will return.

V. Again, look at this text as the language of GOD'S AFFLICTED CHILD DAILY EXPECTING HIS CHARIOT TO TAKE HIM HOME. Home, sweet home! what a precious monosyllable! God sometimes keeps His chosen ones a long time in the final fires, in the finishing process — a long time lingering between the two worlds — suffering, dying. With what a "spirit of expectant hope" and holy calm did Francis Ridley Havergal contemplate and wait for death. There was acute and continued suffering — at times most severe; but the presence of "the King" was fully realised, and His grace was sufficient for her. She startled her medical adviser on one of his early visits by the emphatic inquiry, "Now tell me, doctor, candidly, is there any chance of my seeing Him?" Later on she said, "Not one thing hath failed, tell them all round: trust Jesus: it is simply trusting Jesus." "Spite of the breakers, not a fear." "I am just waiting for Jesus to take me in." "I thought He would have left me here awhile, but He is so good to take me so soon." "I have such an intense craving for the music of heaven." Then, as if "longing to depart and be with Christ, which is far better," she said, "Why tarrieth His chariot?"

(J. O. Keen, D. D.)

Abinoam, Amalek, Anath, Asher, Barak, Benjamin, Dan, Deborah, Heber, Issachar, Jael, Machir, Naphtali, Reuben, Seir, Shamgar, Sisera, Zebulun
Canaan, Edom, Gilead, Jordan River, Kishon River, Megiddo, Meroz, Seir, Sinai, Taanach
Behind, Carriage, Chariot, Chariots, Clatter, Cried, Crieth, Cry, Crying, Delay, Delayed, Delaying, Forth, Gazed, Hoofbeats, Lamented, Lattice, Noise, Peered, Sisera, Sis'era, Sisera's, Sounding, Steps, Tarried, Tarry, Wait, Wheels, Wherefore, Window, Yea
1. The Song of Deborah and Barak

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Judges 5:28

     8300   love, and the world

Judges 5:1-31

     5420   music

Judges 5:14-31

     5091   Deborah

Recreant Reuben
Why satest then among the sheepfolds, to hear the pipings for the flocks? At the watercourses of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.'--JUDGES v. 16 (R.V.). I. The fight. The warfare is ever repeated, though in new forms. In the highest form it is Christ versus the World, And that conflict must be fought out in our own souls first. Our religion should lead not only to accept and rely on what Christ does for us, but to do and dare for Christ. He has given Himself for us, and has thereby
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

'All Things are Yours'
'They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.'--JUDGES v. 20. 'For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.'--Job v. 23. These two poetical fragments present the same truth on opposite sides. The first of them comes from Deborah's triumphant chant. The singer identifies God with the cause of Israel, and declares that heaven itself fought against those who fought against God's people. There may be
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Love Makes Suns
'Let them that love Him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.' JUDGES V. 51. These are the closing words of Deborah, the great warrior-prophetess of Israel. They are in singular contrast with the tone of fierce enthusiasm for battle which throbs through the rest of the chant, and with its stern approval of the deed of Jael when she slew Sisera. Here, in its last notes, we have an anticipation of the highest and best truths of the Gospel. 'Let them that love Him be as the sun when he goeth
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Songs of Deliverance
The results which accrued from the conquest achieved by Barak, are upon a small scale similar to those which come to us through the deliverance wrought out by the Lord Jesus Christ. I shall take our text and spiritualize it, viewing its joyous details as emblematic of the blessings granted to us through our Redeemer. Those who went to draw water at the wells after Barak's victory, were no longer disturbed by the robbers who lurked at the fountains for purposes of plunder; and instead of drawing the
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 13: 1867

Whether the Orders Will Outlast the Day of Judgment?
Objection 1: It would seem that the orders of angels will not outlast the Day of Judgment. For the Apostle says (1 Cor. 15:24), that Christ will "bring to naught all principality and power, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father," and this will be in the final consummation. Therefore for the same reason all others will be abolished in that state. Objection 2: Further, to the office of the angelic orders it belongs to cleanse, enlighten, and perfect. But after the Day of
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Why is it that Our Lord Has Tarried Till Now? Why Has not the Redeemer Returned Long Ere This?
At first sight perhaps this inquiry might appear almost irreverent and some may feel inclined to remind us that "secret things belong unto the Lord." In response we would say, It is not in any spirit of idle curiosity nor is it to indulge an inquisitive speculation that we take up this question, but simply because we believe that a humble examination of it will prove profitable to our souls, inasmuch as the answer to our inquiry demonstrates the wisdom and grace of Him with whom we have to do. Of
Arthur W. Pink—The Redeemer's Return

Hindrances to Revivals.
Text.--I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you."--Nehemiah vi. 3. THIS servant of God had come down from Babylon to rebuild the temple and re-establish the worship of God at Jerusalem, the city of his fathers' sepulchres. When it was discovered by Sanballat and certain individuals, his allies, who had long enjoyed the desolations of Zion, that now the temple, and the holy city were about to be rebuilt, they raised a great
Charles Grandison Finney—Lectures on Revivals of Religion

The Publication of the Gospel
The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it [or of the preachers] P erhaps no one Psalm has given greater exercise to the skill and patience of commentators and critics, than the sixty-eighth. I suppose the difficulties do not properly belong to the Psalm, but arise from our ignorance of various circumstances to which the Psalmist alludes; which probably were, at that time, generally known and understood. The first verse is the same with the stated form of benediction
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

Salvation Published from the Mountains
O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid: say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! I t would be improper to propose an alteration, though a slight one, in the reading of a text, without bearing my testimony to the great value of our English version, which I believe, in point of simplicity, strength, and fidelity, is not likely to be excelled by a new translation
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

The Sovereignty of God in Operation
"For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be the glory for ever. Amen" (Romans 11:36). Has God foreordained everything that comes to pass? Has He decreed that what is, was to have been? In the final analysis this is only another way of asking, Is God now governing the world and everyone and everything in it? If God is governing the world then is He governing it according to a definite purpose, or aimlessly and at random? If He is governing it according to some purpose, then
Arthur W. Pink—The Sovereignty of God

Appendix ix. List of Old Testament Passages Messianically Applied in Ancient Rabbinic Writings
THE following list contains the passages in the Old Testament applied to the Messiah or to Messianic times in the most ancient Jewish writings. They amount in all to 456, thus distributed: 75 from the Pentateuch, 243 from the Prophets, and 138 from the Hagiorgrapha, and supported by more than 558 separate quotations from Rabbinic writings. Despite all labour care, it can scarcely be hoped that the list is quite complete, although, it is hoped, no important passage has been omitted. The Rabbinic references
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Hebrews and the Philistines --Damascus
THE ISRAELITES IN THE LAND OF CANAAN: THE JUDGES--THE PHILISTINES AND THE HEBREW KINGDOM--SAUL, DAVID, SOLOMON, THE DEFECTION OF THE TEN TRIBES--THE XXIst EGYPTIAN DYNASTY--SHESHONQ OR SHISHAK DAMASCUS. The Hebrews in the desert: their families, clans, and tribes--The Amorites and the Hebrews on the left bank of the Jordan--The conquest of Canaan and the native reaction against the Hebrews--The judges, Ehud, Deborah, Jerubbaal or Gideon and the Manassite supremacy; Abimelech, Jephihdh. The Philistines,
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 6

For the understanding of the early history and religion of Israel, the book of Judges, which covers the period from the death of Joshua to the beginning of the struggle with the Philistines, is of inestimable importance; and it is very fortunate that the elements contributed by the later editors are so easily separated from the ancient stories whose moral they seek to point. That moral is most elaborately stated in ii. 6-iii. 6, which is a sort of programme or preface to iii. 7-xvi. 31, which constitutes
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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