The Israelites Pride Cycle

Week Twenty Three: Judges 3:12-31; Judges 4

In the Book of Mormon, we read about the pride cycle of the Nephites. The Lord would bless the Nephites for their righteousness; then, pride would set in. Adversities would come, so they would humble themselves and cry unto the Lord for help. After a period of repentance, the Lord would hear their cries and deliver them again, and the cycle would start all over. The children of Israel had the same problem. The Lord would deliver them out of trouble and then they would forget the Lord until they were in trouble again.

Do we find ourselves in the same cycle? Do we forget the saving grace of our Savior in times of peace and plenty, but then turn to Him in times of despair?

Elder Gong reminded us that there are nearly 400 scriptural references to the word “remember.” He said: “Remembering – and forgetting – are also part of our eternal journey. Time, agency, and memory help us learn, grow, and increase in faith.”[i]

In Judges, chapters 3 and 4, we see this cycle of remembering and then forgetting the Lord.

The Israelites had started to intermarry with the Canaanites and had begun to worship the gods of Canaan: “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord strengthened Eglon, the king of Moab, against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord.” (Judges 3:12)

The Israelites had forgotten the covenant they had made to follow the First Commandment of the Decalogue, “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.”[ii] Their forgetfulness caused them to be in bondage again to King Eglon for 18 years.

Their servitude caused them to remember the one true God and they cried unto Him. The Lord heard their cries and raised up Ehud. He brought a present for the king while hiding a two-edged dagger under his clothes.[iii]  After giving the king his gift, Ehud asked for a private audience. When they were alone, Ehud said, “I have a message from God unto thee.” (Judges 3:20) He then grabbed the hidden dagger and stabbed the king. Ehud locked the door behind him and traveled quickly to the waiting Israelite army. The king’s servants thought the king wanted to be alone, so they didn’t enter the room until later to find him dead.

Ehud said to the Israelite army, “Follow after me: for the Lord hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand.” (Judges 3:28). The Israelite army slew 10,000 Moabite men and “Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel.” (Judges 3:30) After this victory, the Israelites enjoyed 80 years of peace before “the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord.” (Judges 4:1)

“And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan.” (Judges 4:2) The word “sold in this verse means “turned them over to” or “refused to protect them.”[iv] When we turn our back on the Lord, we must realize that He is not the one who makes bad things happen. We all have our agency to do good or evil. But when we don’t come unto Him, His hands are tied because He will not take away our agency to come unto Him of our own accord. He has said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

King Jabin and his chief captain, Sisera, were harsh rulers. They “mightily oppressed the children of Israel.” (Judges 4:3) For 20 years, the Israelites were under their rule. The children of Israel cried again unto the Lord. King Jabin and Captain Sisera had 900 chariots of iron at their disposal. How were the Israelites going to conquer such a well-equipped army?

The prophetess Deborah was the faithful Israelite leader at this time. She was inspired by the Lord with a plan that would free the children of Israel from this oppression. She even prophesied that Captain Sisera would be killed by the hand of a woman. Deborah called Barak, the captain of the Israelite army, and told him to take 10,000 Israelite men and draw the Canaanite army towards the river. If they did this, the Lord would deliver Sisera and his army into their hands. After listening to the plan, Barak said, “If thou wilt go with me, then I will go; but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.” (Judges 4:8)

Deborah went with Barak and told him to go “up, for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: Is not the Lord gone out before thee?” (Judges 4:14). The Lord “discomfited” or panicked Sisera so that he fled. Biblical scholars speculate that the chariots of iron got stuck in the mud by the river, probably because of a thunderstorm.

Sisera ran away from his chariots and army to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber, who was at peace with Jabin the king.  Jael called to Sisera, “Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not” (Judges 4:18). He did so and she covered him with a thick blanket. Sisera told Jael to tell those who were following him that he was not in the tent. While he was lying under the blanket fast asleep, Jael took a tent peg and nailed it into Sisera’s temple. When Barak came by, Jael “came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest.” (Judges 4:22) Through the help of God, Sisera was killed, King Jabin was destroyed, and the children of Israel prospered once more.

Deborah was the righteous vessel that heard the voice of the Lord and directed Israel regarding how the Lord would conquer their enemies. She blessed her nation because of her obedience to the Lord.  

Elder James E. Talmage spoke of Deborah: “No special ordination in the Priesthood is essential to man’s receiving the gift of prophecy;…The ministrations of Miriam and Deborah show that this gift may be possessed by women also.”[v]

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught, “[T]he testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; both testimony and prophecy come by the power of the Holy Ghost; and any person who receives the revelation that Jesus is the Lord is a prophet and can, as occasion requires and when guided by the Spirit, ‘prophesy of all things.’” [vi]

May you find joy in the Lord this week as you always remember Him and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost in your life.

[i] Gerrit W. Gong, Always Remember Him, GC April 2016

[ii] Exodus 20:2-3

[iii] Judges 2-3: Ehud Delivers Israel,

[iv] David J. Ridges, Your Study of the Old Testament made Easier, Part 2, p. 318.

[v] James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 228-229.

[vi] Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, pp. 23-24.

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