Deborah Judges Israel
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Judges 4:1-24, Judges 5:1-31, Zephaniah 3:14-17, Luke 1:68-75
In my soccer-loving family, one of our post-game rituals on the ride home is the conversation and commentary about the game—replaying it in our heads and celebrating a win. All of that occurs over milkshakes, of course.
In today’s Scripture passage, we get a front-row seat for a similar ritual. We first read of God’s triumph through Deborah and Barak and then delight in the post-battle song celebrating God’s victory.
When chapter 4 begins, we learn that Israel has been under King Jabin’s harsh oppression for twenty long, hard years. Deborah commissions Barak to go to battle against him and conveys a promise from the Lord that God would hand over Sisera, the commander of King Jabin’s army, to Barak (Judges 4:6–7). Even when Barak hesitated (v.8) and God determined that a woman would instead defeat Sisera, His promise of deliverance stood firm.
A guaranteed triumph waited. Let’s look at how God’s perfect battle plan came together.
First, God showed His perfect timing. After Barak and Deborah journey to Mount Tabor to prepare for battle, God directs Deborah to tell Barak the exact time to go after Sisera: “Go! This is the day….Hasn’t the LORD gone before you?” (v.14).
Then, in God’s perfect, pre-battle plan, while Barak is still making his way to the river Kishon, God begins the battle: “The LORD threw Sisera, all his charioteers, and all his army into a panic before Barak’s assault” (v.15).
As the battle transpires, God sends a perfect storm that floods the plains and disables the army’s chariots. “The skies poured rain, and the clouds poured water” (Judges 5:4); “the earth trembled,” and “the mountains melted” (vv.4,5); “the stars fought from the heavens,” and “the river Kishon swept them away” (vv.20–21).
Though the Israelites pushed the enemy back, landing Barak in the hall of faith (Hebrews 11:32–34), we find two women at either end of this victory, appointed and empowered by God. In the beginning, it’s Deborah’s God-inspired urging that spurs the battle (Judges 4:6,14) and at the end, it’s Jael who quietly ties up the battle with a tent peg (v.21).
The battle is always His (Exodus 14:14). Regardless of Barak’s military experience or Deborah’s wisdom, God is the One who gave the wisdom and expertise in the first place. He goes before us (Judges 4:14) and He turns back our enemy (Zephaniah 3:14). We can count on His deliverance, for He has raised up the horn of salvation for us all (Luke 1:68-69).
Thank you, Lord, that you are mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:17).