“but when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer.”
--- judges 3:9 ---
READ JUDGES 2-4
in high school, i once played a tennis match against this kid from a local school. he, like a lot of high school players, was a true dinker. he never put any pace on the ball and never came to the net, he just knocked it back over and ran to the baseline. i hated it. i got so frustrated that i couldn’t think straight, and he made the match into a very close one. finally, after playing about a 2 and a half hour match, i won in a tiebreak.
i came off the court actually very frustrated despite the fact i had won. one of my friends on the team came over to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “good match. you would have beat him faster if you’d kept coming to the net. you won every point when you did.” at first i thanked him and just kept on moping, so he left because he didn’t want to be around a moper. but when he was gone i thought back through my match. had i lost a point when i came to the net? no. none. and yet, i spent most of the match back at the baseline trying to pound those shots long forehands past him. if i just would have gone to the net more...
here in judges is a similar story. it may not look like that at first glance, but look again. what we see is the nation of israel struggling against all the other nations that are around them. the king of aram naharaim takes them, they are subject to king eglon, jabin the king of canaan takes them over, basically their are some really bad times for israel.
now, just as a sidenote before we get to the resolution of the story. what is it that keep getting the israelites in trouble. notice again that the thing that is causing their trouble is their weakness for other gods. weakness, when not turned over to God, will constantly cause pain and struggling.
so what releases the nation of israel from this pain and struggling. check out the text. look at 3:7-9. let me paraphrase real briefly...they gave in to their weakness which was followed with pain and suffering, pain and suffering, “but when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer.” Or skip down to 3:12-15. pain and suffering, pain and stuggling, and “again the israelies cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer.” in chapter 4, when they are overtaken by canaan, the israelites seek deborah the Lord’s prophetess. bottom line, each time they get in trouble, they cry out to the Lord.
and what does the Lord do, He delivers them. every time that they cry out to God, He delivers them. you have to wonder if the israelites every felt like i did after my tennis match, “if we just would have cried out to God more...”
think about it, if God delivered the people when they cried out to Him, how could they having prevented the pain in the first place? or what could have kept them strong, instead of falling to their weakness for other gods? it’s very simple.
crying out to God on a consistent basis would mean that they would be delivered on a consistent basis. not necessarily from enemies and suffering, but from their weakness. crying out to God means you are living in His strength. that strength is powerful enough to allow israel to conquer nations, and it is powerful enough to allow us to beat down our weaknesses.
all we have to do is cry.
plain and simple, God brings us strength to deal with whatever happens to us when we are in a close relationship with Him. crying out to God in prayer is one very real way that keeps us devoted to Him. that’s the goal. If we do that then God will decide what’s best for us in His strength, which is so much more powerful than our weakness.