Judges 5:6, 7, 9-18
It is clear that afflictions are unavailing to change the heart; their best results are only temporary, and as soon as they are withdrawn, men return to their old ways,
The multiplicity of these idols should have provoked the scorn of those who knew the one only living and true God; but such is the besotting influence of sin that the Israelites became universal image-worshippers. The rites used in the adoration of many of these false deities were to the last degree degrading, and this rendered Israel’s sin all the more heinous. Observe, that they forsook Jehovah altogether when they became votaries of idols; men cannot serve God and Mammon; and where falsehood enters, truth leaves in disgust.
As they idolized on all sides, so were they oppressed on all sides—on the west by Philistines, and on the east by Ammonites.
When all alike were crushed beneath the heavy yoke of the oppressor, their cry went up to heaven with great vehemence.
Past favours aggravate present rebellion. If God had dealt hardly with them, there might have been some excuse for forsaking him, but it was base to turn from him after so much help received. O how often might the Lord have said to us, “I will deliver you no more.”
This was but justice, but what a dreadful sound it must have made in Israel’s ears. Suppose the Lord should deal thus with us and beat us back to the false confidences and sinful pleasures which we have at any time set our hearts upon. Imagine his saying, “Go to your self-righteousness for comfort”—”turn to your merrymakings or to your money bags”—what would desponding souls be able to reply?
It was their wisest course to confess their sin, and surrender at discretion. Every awakened penitent should do the same.
This practical reformation proved the sincerity of their repentance. True repentance is not only for sin, but from sin. Those who turned to worship the Lord, even though he continued to smite them, were genuine penitents. Not long would the Lord retain his anger when he saw his people in so hopeful a condition of heart. He loves them too well to retain his wrath against them.
Under renewed invasion the downtrodden Israelites assembled in self-defence, but they were without a leader. They agreed to submit to the rule of any man who would be bold enough to commence the conflict against their cruel enemy. At this juncture the Lord raised up Jephthah, and through his instrumentality answered their prayers.