Deborah and Barak
Open Your Bible
Judges 4:1-24, Judges 5:1-31, Deuteronomy 20:1-4
About ten years ago, my husband and I, newly married and eager to serve, volunteered to teach the preschoolers at our little church. Most Sundays were a blur of crayons and goldfish crackers, and our primary goal was for each child to take home a scribbled-on coloring sheet as proof that we tried to teach them something about Jesus.
But I remember one Sunday morning, we arrived to teach a lesson plan about Deborah, Barak, and Jael. I skimmed the story and shot a worried glance at my husband. We were supposed to teach this story? About a woman who drives a tent peg through the head of a military leader? To three-and-four-year olds? I had not had enough coffee for that.
I actually don’t remember what we did that day in class, but I don’t think we read the kids that part of the story. It’s the part of the story that most of us remember, because it’s wild and gruesome, though full of strong women. All of that is true, of course, but at its heart, the story of Deborah and Barak and Jael and Sisera is about God and having confidence in Him.
A lot can be said and unpacked about Barak and his trepidation, the seemingly impossible battle he faced, and how his attitude contrasted with Deborah’s, and later Jael’s. But this story offers us more than a study of human weakness overwhelmed by the glory and power of God; it offers us a picture of a woman, strong and wise, counted upon by the whole nation of Israel and chosen by God, who walked in obedience to Yahweh.
Deborah heard from God, shared His Word with Barak, and supported Barak as he reluctantly followed God’s order. Deborah rebuked him when necessary but still went with him into battle. And then, after the victory against Sisera’s army and Sisera’s gruesome death at the hands of Jael, Deborah and Barak sang of praise.
Their song is a rich poem, full of beauty and truth and focused on the glory of God—how He delivered His people and destroyed His enemies. Deborah was a woman inspired by God’s Word and His faithfulness to her people. She was unafraid because she knew that come what may, our God fights for those who trust in Him (Deuteronomy 20:3–4). May God’s Word so fuel us to stand for His truth, to support our brothers and sisters in faith, and to sing His glory for the rest of our earthly lives.