So may all your enemies perish, O Lord! But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength. Judges 5:31
These are the concluding words to Deborah’s song, written after she and Barak had defeated Jabin and his Canaanite army. Deborah pictures God’s people as being like the sun whose heat grows stronger as the day progresses.
Perhaps this imagery appealed to Deborah because it reflected her own life’s experience. Under Ehud, the land had known peace for eighty years but after his death, Jabin, the Canaanite king had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Then one day Deborah called Barak because it was time to attack Jabin’s army.
Why wait twenty years?
God waits for us to grow in faith. We have different expectations of fruit trees that have just been planted to fruit trees that are twenty years old. Likewise, God often waits until we’re more mature before he asks us to act in certain situations. For eighty years the Israelites hadn’t fought a battle. It would take time for the people to become battle-ready and for Deborah to learn to know God’s voice. Deborah settled the disputes of her people (4:5) and no doubt it was during this time that she learnt to hear God’s voice and trust his direction. When the time came to act she would know with certainty that God had indeed spoken to her.
If you’ve been a Christian for more than twenty years it’s interesting to consider if over that time your faith has grown stronger like the rising sun. Do you trust God more now than you did when you first believed? Is it easier to hear and know God’s voice?