Judges: Day 4

Deborah Judges Israel

by

Today's Text: Judges 4:1-24, Judges 5:1-31, Job 19:25-27, Psalm 68:7-10

Scripture Reading: Judges 4:1-24, Judges 5:1-31, Job 19:25-27, Psalm 68:7-10

My husband and I have the privilege of shepherding three little ladies through life, and our evenings often end with the same bedtime ritual. We read a story, pray together, and sing. For my middle daughter, it is quite important that we sing the same three songs every evening: “Before the Throne of God Above,” “Magnificat,” and “The Lord’s Prayer”—usually in that order. If I’m honest, this sometimes frustrates me. Why can’t we have some variety in our song choice? But, as I continued to think through today’s readings, I have come to see our same three songs in a new light.

The book of Judges recounts the tragedy of forgetfulness. It is a story of the Israelites’ downward spiral, culminating in Judges 21:25: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him.” However, there is a momentary break in this downward spiral with the arrival of Deborah.

We first meet Deborah in Judges 4. She is sitting under a tree conducting business as usual, judging and prophesying. The Israelites, having suffered oppression at the hands of the Canaanites for twenty years, cry out to the Lord for deliverance. He inclines His ear, and speaking through Deborah, reveals a rescue plan by way of a woman named Jael, who ultimately kills King Jabin’s military leader, Sisera. This victory sets in motion the unraveling of Canaan’s defense and, ultimately, makes way for the Israelites to enjoy forty years of peace—double the amount of time they originally spent under King Jabin’s oppression.

What is Deborah and Barak’s response? They break out into a victory song! They sing, detailing how God provided deliverance from their enemies. But their praise did more than serve as a celebration in that moment. It became a vehicle for future generations to remember God’s faithfulness. Compared to the rest of the book in its entirety, the song of Judges 5 interrupts the narrative flow, and is an intentional break in the story for the purpose of remembering. Like David in Psalm 68, Deborah and Barak are recalling and recounting the faithfulness of God. May we do the same.

May we remember what God has done: “God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the desert… You, God, showered abundant rain; you revived your inheritance when it languished” (Psalm 68:7,9).

May we remember what God is doing: “Israel’s leaders took charge, and the people gladly followed. Praise the LORD!” (Judges 5:2).

May we remember what God has promised to do: “But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust… I will see him myself; my eyes will look at him, and not as a stranger” (Job 19:25,27).

Which brings me back to those same three songs my family sings together at bedtime. We, like the Israelites, are tempted to forget, to lose sight of who we are and why we are here. It is our remembrance of what God has done for us that fights forgetfulness and propels us forward in our mission as followers of Jesus. May today, tomorrow, and all the days we’ve been given, be spent singing the praises of our holy, just, and infinitely loving God.

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Emily Chapman Richards is the daughter of Grammy® award-winning recording artist, Steven Curtis Chapman, and his wife, Mary Beth Chapman. She graduated with a BA from Baylor University (’07) and received her Master of Theology (MTh) degree from Queen’s University, Belfast, in 2012. Emily currently serves as the Vice President of Show Hope, a nationally recognized voice for adoption advocacy and orphan care support work. She and her husband, Tanner, reside in Franklin, Tennessee, with their three daughters Eiley, Della, and Verity.

  • Anna Damiano

    I want to make a victory song playlist now! Mine would probably include Mercy Tree – Lacey Sturm and I Am Free – Scott Cunningham. Anyone willing to share your victory songs?

  • Mary Barnard

    Lord help me to always sing your praises- My Redeemer Lives and He has done mighty things in my life. Always bring me back so that I can remember Lord, the wonderful, amazing things only You could do.

  • Heather N

    I noticed that the previous judges led God’s people by being the commander of the army. They did hand to hand combat. However, Deborah is the first judge mentioned so far as settling disputes and prophesying. I like how God gives both Deborah and Jael strength not through muscle, but through wisdom and bravery. I love how God has made men and women different and how each are used by him to do his work.

    • lily Horler

      Amen sister, men, and women equally loved but purposefully different is the most beautiful thing! xx

  • Janna Jackson

    When God says he is going to do something, we can trust that it will happen. Barak doubted that’s what God said was true, but Deborah had full assurance that God would deliver the Israelites. God doesn’t just use the strong and mighty. Oftentimes he he uses people that are weak or are viewed as weak by the culture. In this story, God allowed a woman to kill a king. God doesn’t need us to accomplish his will. We have the incredible opportunity to be used by him by being willing to be used by him.

  • This is going to sound silly and probably pompous but trust me… pompous it isn’t!
    I have set the alarm on my phone to go off every 3 hours … a reminders to stop, down tools for a minute or two to say Thank you God…
    This past week I have been in company of friends on different days when the alarm has gone off.. and on three separate occasions because the time is so random (12.21,pm 3.18pm, 6.14,pm, 9.21pm)I have been asked what’s the alarm for? My response has been on the three occasions… to say Thank you to God… I can moan like the best of them, and so to my mind, I also need to acknowledge and glorify, give thanks and praise to with that same enthusiasm… Amen.
    Thank you God for everything… the good the bad and the ugly… because it is in knowing deep in my heart that You are for me not against me that I rise from the ashes, the pain, the hurt, being a lost soul to the God filled joyful person that I am… Thank you God for everything…Amen.
    Blessings dear hearts…Blessings. xxx

  • Lynn Johnson

    Reminds me of the song – Victory in Jesus! ❤️

  • Heather Schablik

    Love the idea of stopping to praise Him for where we’ve been, where we are going, and what He has for us down the road. What a great perspective to pass down to my kiddos.

  • Kelly Chataine

    I don’t sing enough victory songs! Time to start singing!

  • I love the tradition of the three songs! Curious what version of Magnificat you use?

    • Penny

      Me too! When we visit our grandchildren they always want stories, songs and prayer (it may be to delay bedtime) but it is setting memories in place and we must never forget that!

  • Churchmouse

    Barak had been commanded by God to deploy his troops to fight against Sisera. God even told Barak that Sisera would be handed over to him. Barak knew the outcome of the battle before it had even begun. All of this was told to him prophetically by Deborah. The mighty commander hesitated however and insisted that Deborah go with him. If she wouldn’t go into battle, then he wouldn’t go. Sounds like insubordination to me. Deborah trusted what God had said. She believed the word given her. She knew that even Sisera’s insubordination couldn’t thrawt God’s plan. Confidently she set out. Two women in the account were used mightily by God – one proclaimed His plan. The other executed it. Sisera’s troops were destroyed by Barak and his army. Victory was obtained just as it had been assured. May I listen for the Word of the Lord for guidance in my life. May I walk confidently in it. May I trust that He will accomplish what He promises. May I not be deterred by those who may question my journey. May I rejoice and give Him praise for permitting me to be used by Him to accomplish His purpose. May I be grateful for those along the way who also follow Him. Amen.

  • Lesa Campbell

    I read multiple devotions each morning. two of them spoke of singing praises of our GOD. I believe it is time to bust our a song of praise!

  • The explanation of the purpose of Judges 5 really helped me with this reading. It was difficult for me to read at first because it was so unlike the previous chapters, but it was a reminder for me to slow down and recount the goodness of God and give him praise.

    I loved that today’s reading featured two strong women, Deborah and Jael, who helped save a nation by carrying out God’s work. It encourages me to be obedient and yielding to God in my everyday life.

    • Zoë

      I love Deborah! She was a judge! I feel like possibly the only female judge in the Bible? How empowering. I love that God uses women to do mighty and powerful things as well as men. We hear a lot of the mighty men doing God’s work and it’s super refreshing to hear of a female judge who men where too scared to go into battle without AND a mighty woman who drove a tent peg through a commanding officer’s Head!! Crazy! That would have taken strength and bravery. But we know that these things only come from God, and it’s not about gender. It’s about God achieving His purpose. But I do get a bit excited about the women.

  • Naomi LaBoo

    What an amazing post!

  • I read the verses in Psalm and heavy rain now has a different and more joyful feeling to me. On September 1st my oldest son, George, will have been gone fifteen years. He died two days after his 18th birthday. My son drown after heavy rain and flood and until I read this Psalm today all I would ever associate with heavy rain was his death, now after having read David’s Psalm I can have a joyful association with heavy rain. I too have experienced how generations loose sight of God. George, my other son, Andrew, my niece and nephew went to church regularly with my sister and I. When George died Andrew, my niece and my nephew stopped going they “stopped believing” they said. It broke my heart. They would ask my father and mother who were devote Christians why George was taken at an early age. Then Andrew and my niece would ask me how I could still believe. Before George died he had decided to become a minister and he was a devote Christian. Many a time I want to tell Andrew, Molly, my niece, and Jake, my nephew, that George would not have given up on the Lord “had the tables been turned”. I have read in Judges how God’s people kept coming back. I even read on a previous day where one of my sisters mentioned she had come back after 10 years of being away all of this gives me hope. The Lord is waiting for them I know. I also know that He has helped in giving them a “boost in the right direction”. Andrew’s fiance is Christian and is slowly bringing the Lord back into his life without his even knowing. Also, Molly’s boyfriend is Christian and every time she goes to see him they go to church. Now if only Jake had someone to bring him back. I guess I am finding that if the Lord is willing to wait maybe I should be too. Thank you Lord for bringing new and joyful meaning to something that had bad memories. Lord I also thank you for be patient with Andrew and Molly in coming back to flock. Allow me patience also. Lord help me to continue to believe in Jake and that he will return to you and Satan will not win him over. Lord I also thank you for my loving sisters in Christ with whom I am able to share. Amen

    • Eliza Bulz

      I pray for your family Dorothy Indeed it is never too late for reconciliation and God is always extending grace into us all

    • Naomi LaBoo

      What an amazing post

    • Jennifer Ciarletta

      What a beautiful word. As long as there is breath, It’s never too late. Keep hoping. Keep persevering in prayer

    • Candacejo

      God is working and weaving players into this story in His time and His way! It is exciting to see how He will bring them all back to Him. We believe and trust Him in the Wait. http://www.hopeinthehealing.com/2018/07/08/4-things-to-do-in-a-season-of-wait/

    • Churchmouse

      So touched by what you’ve written. Praying for your family to return to the Lord. His arms are ever welcoming.

    • GramsieSue

      I was a prodigal daughter who turned my back on God because of circumstances in my life. He never gave up on me. He kept pulling my heartstrings. And when I had children I knew I wanted them raised in the church. My desire for them led me back, and my relationship with God became deeper than before. He is faithful. He loves His children. He never gives up. ❤️

      • Dorothy

        Thank you for your encouragement I know it will happen but I must be patient just as God is patient.

    • Natasha Reyes

      Thank for sharing your story Dorothy. I too have strayed and God drew me gently back to him. My husband is a new believer, and I sometimes want to hurry him along in his path. You have reminded me to be patient, and trust God to do things in His time.

    • Julie Whitacre

      Dorothy, I feel you! I grew up overseas, and after I returned to America, a tsunami wiped out the village I had grown up in. A third of the people there died, and I was heartbroken. The image of waves and breakers was always associated with pain after that, but the Lord has changed things so drastically, that now I can associate the ocean and the waves and the breakers with His deep and bottomless love for me. I am praying with great hope for your family, and am thankful for you, sister!

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