Deborah and Barak
Judges 5:1-2 “Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,
Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.”
The story here is:
Israel is in the promised land, but they were often lazy, in conquering their inheritance. They often let the people of the land live among them…..this became a snare to them, for they began to follow the worship of the gods of these people.
Each time they did, God would send nations against them; stealing their harvests, and taking anything they wanted…..to wake them up to their disobedience. This was one such time…
Judges 4:2-3 “And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera…
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.”
But, when Israel began to cry, the Lord began to move toward them with deliverance…
Judges 4:4, 6 “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
And she sent and called Barak……, 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?”
Here a judge of Israel….Deborah (also a prophetess), calls Barak to do his duty.
It seems God has already spoken to him about it…..but he has not gone.
So Deborah rebukes him (to correct with words to get the person back into God’s Way)……and tells him that it was time to go.
She also tells him what God has told her will happen;….if he does what he is told:
Judges 4:7 “And I (the Lord) 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.”
Jabin was the king of Canaan, and his captain of his army was Sisera. They had chariots of iron….and
…..oppressed Israel for twenty years…..but now God was going to deliver Israel from them…..for “the children of Israel cried unto the Lord”.
Barak had hesitated when he had heard from God to do this…..it was an impossible task.
But now, when Deborah had called him, and given him a promise…..he should have shaken off the fear, and believed God.
(How often we are called to do the same….to cast off our fear [His grace is always ready to help us] and to believe God, and be obedient to His commands to us.
Yet we hesitate…..and the impossible, grows more impossible by the day.
What should we do?
Paul wrote the Corinth Church, which was to deal with a situation in the church which was ruining their witness; telling them to do it….and adding this:
1 Corinthians 16:13 “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”
And in every situation, we should do the same….especially, if we have hesitated before.)
But Barak wanted a guarantee, of sorts….
Judges 4:8 “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.”
Deborah agrees…..but tells Barak: because you have obeyed in this way….the honor will not be yours….but a woman will have the honor.
(I must say here, that this is pretty childish and petty of Barak. Israel will suffer because he would not have his guarantee?
I believe that is the reason that God removed the honor from him.)
But he obeys. And he and the ten thousand men, and Deborah go up to mount Tabor.
(I must also add here, that the eagerness of the those that came with him is seen! In the song of Victory it is called “willingly offered themselves.”)
Sisera hears of this march, and eager to put down any who challenge them….goes out to battle.
Barak and the ten thousand are on the mount.
Sisera and nine hundred chariots….and thousands of men came up toward the mount.
To get there they had to cross the river Kishon.
Deborah tells Barak…….Now is the time: “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 while Barak and his ten thousand men come running down the mount…..God is slowing the chariots in the river….clogging up the advance toward the mount and in the confusion and ensuing fear…..
Barak and his men gain the victory.
Barak then goes after the chariots and the men in them…..for they begin to turn around and run….along with the army of Sisera.
Barak and his men chase them….destroying Sisera’s army as they go.
Sisera, who had been in one of the lead chariots, which had been clogged in the river….jumps out and runs away.
An interesting side-note is put right in the middle of this narrative (Judges 4:11):
“Heber the Kenite,…had severed himself from the Kenites,”……..evidently rejecting the Kenite religion and choosing to believe in the Living God of Israel.(2 Corinthians 6:17 “Come out from among them”.)
And as a shepherd….he pitched his tent at Kadesh….which was close to the coming battle.
And here we meet Jael….the wife of the Heber the Kenite, the shepherd. Sisera headed for her tent.
She saw Sisera coming, and he went in and lay down…….she told him to cover up and hide under a rug.
She gave him some milk to drink…..and he told her, to tell anyone who came,……that there was no one here.
He fell asleep,…….and then she took a tent nail and drove it through his temple.
Later Barak came and she showed him the mighty Sisera…..dead, by the hand of a woman.
The enemy was slain, not by Barak; who refused the honor…..but by a woman, converted to God, and who He could use.
Then sang Deborah and Barak, saying:
Judges 5:2-3, 21, 24, 31 “Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.
Hear, O ye kings, give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the Lord; I will sing praises to the Lord God of Israel.
The river of Kishon swept them away, the ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, Thou (Lord) hast trodden down strength.
Blessed above women shall Jael the wife Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be of women in the tent.
So let all Thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love Him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.
And the land had rest forty years.”
We are called, as the Lord’s servants, to be obedient…..and by faith to overcome…….overcome anything which stands in the way of us doing God’s Will.
Whether that be fear, weakness, doubt, or anything…..He will honor us, if we will honor Him and obey.
To “willingly offer” ourselves to stand with Him in the battles of our life….this is what He asks.