Judges 5 & Acts 9

Judges 5

    Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day:

    “That the leaders took the lead in Israel,
        that the people offered themselves willingly,
        bless the LORD!
    “Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes;
        to the LORD I will sing;
        I will make melody to the LORD, the God of Israel.
    “LORD, when you went out from Seir,
        when you marched from the region of Edom,
    the earth trembled
        and the heavens dropped,
        yes, the clouds dropped water.
    The mountains quaked before the LORD,
        even Sinai before the LORD, the God of Israel.
    “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
        in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned,
        and travelers kept to the byways.
    The villagers ceased in Israel;
        they ceased to be until I arose;
        I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.
    When new gods were chosen,
        then war was in the gates.
    Was shield or spear to be seen
        among forty thousand in Israel?
    My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel
        who offered themselves willingly among the people.
        Bless the LORD.
    “Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys,
        you who sit on rich carpets
        and you who walk by the way.
    To the sound of musicians at the watering places,
        there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the LORD,
        the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel.
    “Then down to the gates marched the people of the LORD.
    “Awake, awake, Deborah!
        Awake, awake, break out in a song!
    Arise, Barak, lead away your captives,
        O son of Abinoam.
    Then down marched the remnant of the noble;
        the people of the LORD marched down for me against the mighty.
    From Ephraim their root they marched down into the valley,
        following you, Benjamin, with your kinsmen;
    from Machir marched down the commanders,
        and from Zebulun those who bear the lieutenant's staff;
    the princes of Issachar came with Deborah,
        and Issachar faithful to Barak;
        into the valley they rushed at his heels.
    Among the clans of Reuben
        there were great searchings of heart.
    Why did you sit still among the sheepfolds,
        to hear the whistling for the flocks?
    Among the clans of Reuben
        there were great searchings of heart.
    Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan;
        and Dan, why did he stay with the ships?
    Asher sat still at the coast of the sea,
        staying by his landings.
    Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death;
        Naphtali, too, on the heights of the field.
    “The kings came, they fought;
        then fought the kings of Canaan,
    at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo;
        they got no spoils of silver.
    From heaven the stars fought,
        from their courses they fought against Sisera.
    The torrent Kishon swept them away,
        the ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon.
        March on, my soul, with might!
    “Then loud beat the horses' hoofs
        with the galloping, galloping of his steeds.
    “Curse Meroz, says the angel of the LORD,
        curse its inhabitants thoroughly,
    because they did not come to the help of the LORD,
        to the help of the LORD against the mighty.
    “Most blessed of women be Jael,
        the wife of Heber the Kenite,
        of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
    He asked for water and she gave him milk;
        she brought him curds in a noble's bowl.
    She sent her hand to the tent peg
        and her right hand to the workmen's mallet;
    she struck Sisera;
        she crushed his head;
        she shattered and pierced his temple.
    Between her feet
        he sank, he fell, he lay still;
    between her feet
        he sank, he fell;
    where he sank,
        there he fell—dead.
    “Out of the window she peered,
        the mother of Sisera wailed through the lattice:
    ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
        Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?’
    Her wisest princesses answer,
        indeed, she answers herself,
    ‘Have they not found and divided the spoil?—
        A womb or two for every man;
    spoil of dyed materials for Sisera,
        spoil of dyed materials embroidered,
        two pieces of dyed work embroidered for the neck as spoil?’
    “So may all your enemies perish, O LORD!
        But your friends be like the sun as he rises in his might.”
        And the land had rest for forty years.

(Judges 5 ESV)

Acts 9

    But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

    Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.

    For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

    When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.

    And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

    So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

    Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.

    Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.

(Acts 9 ESV)

Something to Consider

Acts 9: Aren’t we all just instruments in God's hand used by Him for His own sovereign purposes? We are the instruments; God is the Author, and the power to accomplish His purposes is in His power alone. Far too often, we fall into the trap of assuming we bring a lot to the dance. We look at our unique gifts and assume that they must be the reason God has chosen us for His work rather than realizing that we possess these unique gifts because He is already using us. We can do nothing for God without God first doing for us.

If there was any doubt in God's authority to use men as He pleases, the radical conversion of the apostle Paul proves to be a strong defense. The premier persecutor of the church becomes the most active advocate of our Lord's name that the world has ever known. He who dedicated his life to the death of Christ's name becomes someone who dedicated his life to dying for it.

We ought to ask for forgiveness for ever believing or assuming that we possess abilities that God could benefit from. We ought to realize that we possess these abilities because God has chosen to use us in the first place. It's an incredible privilege to be an instrument in the hand of God that He chooses to wield for the advancement of His Kingdom and glory. May God instruct us as His instruments in how to suffer troubles, withstand reproaches, and to endure all types of conflicts so that nothing may hinder us from carrying His name where He would have us carry it. There is little doubt that the apostle Paul was no common instrument, but neither are we in the power of God's almighty hands.