Judges 4:1

 

 

The Bible says in Judges 4:1-9, “And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.[2] And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.[3] And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.[4] And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.[5] And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.[6] And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?[7] And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.[8] And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.[9] And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.” Verse one says, “And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD.” We might ask how such a thing can be? They did not learn, they did not remember, and they did not remain true to God? There is only one problem: that is exactly what Christians do also. Concerning this tendency to sin, Paul said in Romans 7:14-24, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.[15] For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.[16] If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.[17] Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.[18] For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.[19] For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.[20] Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.[21] I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.[22] For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:[23] But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.[24] O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Thankfully, as Christians we have an answer to this question. The answer is stated clearly in Romans 7:25, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” And Romans 8:1-3 follows up on this by saying, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.[2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.[3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.”

 

Judges 4:4 is a key verse in this passage. It says, “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.” In the Bible, being the leader of a country was not only for men, but also for women. Deborah was both a prophetess and a female judge. A prophetess is a female version of a prophet. A prophet speaks forth the Word of God, and so does a prophetess. Speaking forth the Word of God is preaching. In the Bible both men and women can preach. That is why it says in Acts 2:16-17, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;[17] And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”

 

Deborah “judged” Israel “at that time.” All the other judges were men. But a time came when God raised up a woman to be judge in Israel. Of course, this means that a woman can be just as qualified to lead a nation as a man. Not just any man makes a good leader, and not just any woman. It says in verse five that “the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.” This indicates that the people wanted to come to Deborah to resolve their disputes, and so obviously she had wisdom and she was fair according to the law and sound judgment. In verse six Deborah said, “Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded.” You can only know God’s will if you seek it. She knew God’s will, and she did not keep it to herself. She communicated God’s will to Barak the general of the army. Deborah told Barak that the Lord made it clear that Barak would win the battle and quoted the Lord as saying in verse seven, “Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.”

 

But in spite of what the Lord said, Barak was so afraid of Jabin and his army, and Barak was so dependent upon Deborah and her leadership that Barak said in verse eight, “And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.” And then it was as though Deborah said to General Barak, “If you cannot be a man and go out to battle without a woman at your side even after you have been promised victory, then the Lord is going to give the final victory of this battle not to you but to another woman.” And so Deborah said to Barak in verse nine, “And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”

 

The Bible says in Judges 4:10-16, “And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.[11] Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.[12] And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.[13] And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon.[14] And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him.[15] And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.[16] But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.” Verse fourteen is a good example of why Deborah was such a good leader. She was decisive. She also had wisdom and knew when to make a decision. She also knew when he Lord was leading. When she gave a command, people fell in line and obeyed her command. It says in verse fourteen, “And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee?”

 

The Bible says in Judges 4:17-24, “Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.[18] And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.[19] And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.[20] Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.[21] Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.[22] And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.[23] So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.[24] And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.” Jael took a nail and sent Sisera to hell. Why did the woman named Jael get the upper hand and get such an advantage over Sisera so that she was able to bring him to such an end? Remember back in verse nine that Deborah said to Barak, “I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” God made things to turn out the way that they did. God decides. God is in control. And obviously God wanted women to be in the forefront in all of this. Deborah was the great female judge and prophetess. The general, who was a man, refused to go into battle without her leadership. And then the final victory of a bloody battle was given to a man’s wife. This was a time of bloody hand-to-hand combat, and the woman named Jael stuck the final blow that ended the life of the evil Sisera. God uses women as well as men. God raises up women as well as men. The time that we are reading about in these verses in Judges was a time when women were given the ascendancy and the power and the opportunity to lead and to shine. Perhaps the time in which we live is a time for women to rise and do more than they ever have before. Women certainly have more opportunity to train and to develop their skills than ever before. Women certainly have more opportunity to enter into the various fields of endeavor in life, at least in western countries. Hopefully, the other countries of the world will open up for women also. The world has yet to see what women are capable of accomplishing in positions of leadership both in the secular world and in Christianity.  

 

The Bible says in Judges 5:1-2, “Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,[2] Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.” The first thing that Deborah and Barak did was to give glory to God. We should do that for everything in our lives, and especially for the big wins like was given to Deborah and Barak. They knew that God had given them the victory, but they also knew that people have something to do with it too. God uses people. What kind of people does God use? It says in verse two that God used the Israelites who “willingly offered themselves.” God wants us to be surrendered to Him. The selfish human will can so easily rise up in resistance to God’s will. Jesus gave us the example. As Jesus faced the torture and death of the cross, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemanee, “Not my will, but thine be done.” If you can surrender your will to God’s will, you will be used of Him. If you do not surrender, then you will lead a life of self-will, and you will not be used by Him.              

 

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Copyright; 2019 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved