Judges 4

Those who slight God in their prosperity,
will find themselves under a necessity of crying mightily to Him when they are in trouble.
He is faithful in spite of our unfaithfulness,
and when we sincerely turn to Him,
He will give the victory.

1 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 Beth-el 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.

10 ¶ 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.

17 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 enquire 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.

Judges 4:1-11 – A Woman’s Deliverance

   The scene changes to the northern part of Canaan. Deborah probably belonged to Issachar, Judges 5:15; but her seat of government was removed to the hill country of Ephraim, probably for greater security. Her spirit was susceptible to God, and she recognized that the hour for the emancipation of her suffering country was at hand. Indeed, the command had gone forth, Judges 4:6. But the divine method is ever to link command and promise, as we discover in Judges 4:7. Barak had true faith, Hebrews 11:32; but it needed inspiration and stimulus, as a dying fire calls for the bellows.
   Kedesh, the gathering-place, was not far from the shores of the Lake of Galilee. From the table-land on the top of Tabor, these two heroic souls watched the gathering of Sisera’s vast host, far away to the slopes of Carmel and the banks of Kishon, soon to be encrimsoned with blood. What a moment that was when Deborah summoned Barak to arise, because the Lord had already gone forth! Who of us need fear and who need hesitate in the face of difficulty, if we are simply called upon to go in the wake of our Lord? —Through the Bible Day by Day

Judges 4:9—The journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour.

   Barak preferred the inspiration of Deborah’s presence to the invisible but certain help of Almighty God. It was Jehovah who had commanded him to draw his forces towards the River Kishon, and had promised to deliver Sisera into his hand. But be seemed unable to rise to the splendor of the situation. If only he could have Deborah beside him he would go, but otherwise not. He is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as one of the heroes of faith; but his faith lay rather in Deborah’s influence with God than in his own. Thus he missed the crown of that great day of victory.
   It is the mark of the carnal Christian that he has no direct dealings with God for himself, but must needs deal with Him through the medium of another’s prayers, and words, and leadership. Barak must have Deborah. It is faith, though greatly attenuated and reduced by the opaqueness of the medium through which it passes. Such do not attain “unto the first three” (2 Samuel 23:19). God cannot honor them as He does those who have absolutely no help or hope save in Himself. “Them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Samuel 2:30).
   If God tells you to go alone to a work, be sure and obey. Go, at whatever cost. Dare to stand by yourself if God is with you. In such hours we realize what Jesus meant when He said, “Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith” (Mark 11:23). Yet if you are unbelieving, your unbelief cannot make God’s faith of none effect. He abideth faithful. He cannot deny Himself. He will still deliver Israel. —Our Daily Homily

Judges 4:14-24 – A Woman Executioner

   “The LORD discomfited Sisera… and all his host” (Judges 4:15). When General Gordon rode off alone on his camel to break up the camps of the Arab slave-drivers, he realized, as he went over the desert with Thomas à Kempis’ immortal book in his hand, that God was already discomfiting them; and as he rode into their midst, he discovered that God had made the way perfectly clear. Yes, it is as Deborah sang, in words afterward quoted by our Lord, “Them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might”, Judges 5:31; Matthew 13:43. The soul that is united to Christ is irresistible.
   Jael’s deed is narrated at length again in Judges 5:24. It was a most unusual breach of Arab hospitality. Was it that she was aggrieved by Sisera’s treatment of her sex, Judges 5:30? Or was it the expression of her faith in Jehovah and of her identification with His people? If the latter, may we not believe that then, as always, the Almighty understood the impulse that lay beneath the crude expression? How often we give blundering expression to noble impulses, which Jesus interprets truly! Ah, how blessed it is to have a Savior who understands the motives of our hearts! —Through the Bible Day by Day