“And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; As Issachar, so was Barak sent into the valley under his command; among the divisions of Reuben there were great resolves of heart. Why did you sit among the sheepfolds, to hear the pipings for the flocks? The divisions of Reuben have great searchings of heart” (Judges 5:15-16).
The book of Judges is a dark period for God’s people as they continually depart from Him and follow the gods of the people among whom they live (Judges 3:5-7). A cycle is seen throughout the book of Israel departing from the Lord to serve other gods-the Lord God delivering them into the hands of their enemies-Israel repenting and crying out to God for help-God raising up a judge to deliver them-and, then, Israel again departing from the Lord shortly after he delivers them.
The opening verses above are part of the “Song of Deborah” which Deborah and Barak sung on the day God had delivered them from Jabin king of Caanan and his army commander Sisera (Judges 4:6-5:1). Israel had been sold in the hand of Jabin because of their sin against the Lord and Jabin had harshly oppressed Israel (Judges 4:1-3). God raised up Deborah who used Barak and his army to deliver Israel and give them victory of their enemies (Judges 4:4-5).
This song praises such tribes of Israel as Issachar, Zebulun, and Naptali who came out to fought in this battle against Israel’s enemies (Judges 5:15, 18). But the song also has strong words of condemnation for such tribes as Dan, Asher, and Reuben who stayed at home and did not help their brethren in this battle (Judges 5:15-17). The Angel of the Lord was very upset at these tribes for their failure to support their brethren in time of need. Notice what He said: “Curse Meroz,… Curse its inhabitants bitterly, because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty” (Judges 5:23).
Of the tribe of Reuben it is said, “there were great resolves of heart” and “great searchings of heart” (Judges 5:15-16). It appears those of the tribe of Reuben “thought” it might be a good idea for Israel to gather together to fight this battle, but their resolved ended with their “thoughts”. They did not put their “thoughts” into “action” and failed to go help in this conflict. Essentially they told their brethren, “Be warmed and filled” (James 2:15-16), but did not actually lift a finger to help them in this fight!
As Christians, we are part of the body of Christ, the church. Each of us has a role to play so that the body of Christ can function effectively in reaching a lost world for Christ and to encourage our brethren to continue in the faith (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Each of us needs to do “our share” to make the body function effectively (Ephesians 4:16). Am I doing my share or am I like Reuben standing on the sidelines with “great resolves of heart”? Have I discovered my particular ministry or way I can serve in the local church to help build up the body of Christ or am I like Reuben, stuck in the mud having “great searchings of heart”?
I am very thankful for my brethren who strive to serve God, fight God’s battles alongside me, and encourage me. They are doing their share and are an encouragement to me to keep up the faith. If you have not discovered your ministry, speak to one of your church leaders and say to them, “I want to serve. Here am I. Where can I be of help?” I am sure they will eagerly help you discover your ministry for the Lord. Today, I will rejoice that God has blessed me with fellow soldiers of the cross!
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’" (Isaiah 6:8).