“When Israel chose new gods, war erupted at the city gates. Yet not a shield or spear could be seen among forty thousand warriors in Israel!
“My heart is with the commanders of Israel, with those who volunteered for war. Praise the Lord!
“Consider this, you who ride on fine donkeys, you who sit on fancy saddle blankets, and you who walk along the road. Listen to the village musicians gathered at the watering holes. They recount the righteous victories of the Lord and the victories of his villagers in Israel. Then the people of the Lord marched down to the city gates.
“Wake up, Deborah, wake up! Wake up, wake up, and sing a song! Arise, Barak! Lead your captives away, son of Abinoam!
“Down from Tabor marched the few against the nobles. The people of the Lord marched down against mighty warriors. They came down from Ephraim—a land that once belonged to the Amalekites; they followed you, Benjamin, with your troops. From Makir the commanders marched down; from Zebulun came those who carry a commander’s staff. The princes of Issachar were with Deborah and Barak. They followed Barak, rushing into the valley. But in the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision. Why did you sit at home among the sheepfolds—to hear the shepherds whistle for their flocks? Yes, in the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision. Gilead remained east of the Jordan. And why did Dan stay home? Asher sat unmoved at the seashore, remaining in his harbors.”
Although God had given Israel clear directions, the people failed to put his words into practice. Without God at the center of their national life, pressure from the outside soon became greater than power from within, and they were an easy prey for their enemies. War was the inevitable result.
Four tribes—Reuben, Gilead (either Gad or Manasseh), Dan, and Asher—were accused of not lending a helping hand in the battle. No reasons are given for why they didn’t help their fellow Israelites, but their reasons may be the same ones that stopped them from driving out the Canaanites in Joshua’s time: (1) lack of faith in God to help, (2) lack of effort, (3) fear of the enemy, and (4) fear of ruining the economy that depended on trade with the Canaanites. This disobedience showed a lack of enthusiasm for what God wanted Israel to become.
Are you excited about what God wants to do in and through your life? Or does holiness sound like a drain of life and joy? If you are more excited to gain recognition, power, or money, you may find yourself besieged by stress, anxiety, illness, or fatigue when your dreams slip out of your grasp. Ask God to give you a clear picture of the life he wants for you, and ask him to ignite your imagination for what it could mean for your future.