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  • Gwen Diaz

69 - A Judge Named Deborah

After Ehud died, the Israelites sinned again. So, God allowed Jabin, a Canaanite king from the north, to conquer and control them. Jabin was a very cruel ruler with a strong military with an arsenal of 900 iron chariots. The commander of the Canaanite army was a man named Sisera. Together, Jabin and Sisera oppressed Israel for twenty years. The judge who was leading Israel at the time was a prophetess named Deborah. (Her story is told in Judges chapter 4, and then repeated in a song of victory that she wrote in chapter 5.) Deborah was a wife and a mom. But she was also a great leader. She set up a court under a palm tree in the hill country of Ephraim, and people came from all over Israel to seek her advice and let her settle their disputes. One day the Lord asked Deborah to give a message to a man named Barak. She met with Barak and told him, “God commands you to gather 10,000 men and take them to Mount Tabor. He will lead Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army, to the plain below. There, by the Kishon River, he will fight you with his chariots and troops. But God will help you defeat him! Barak balked. The idea of fighting a vastly superior army, that included hundreds of horses and 900 iron chariots, on a wide-open plain seemed foolish. The Israelites didn’t have any horses or chariots! They didn’t even have swords or shields! Over the years, Sisera’s army had confiscated everything they owned that was made of metal! “I will go, but only if you will go with me,” Barak finally agreed reluctantly. He must have reasoned that Deborah’s presence would somehow prompt God to bless them. Deborah agreed to go along. “But” she said, “because of this choice, you won’t get the credit for killing Sisera. The Lord will give that honor to a woman. As the troops began to gather, a man named Heber informed Sisera that the Israelite army was on its way to Mount Tabor. Heber was a Kenite, a descendant of Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro (see #40 - February 9). The Kenites had joined the Israelites as they made their way toward the Promised Land. Historians inform us that they were great metal workers. But, since there was no longer any metal in Israel, Heber had become a traitor. He had moved north and started working for the Canaanites. When he learned of Israel’s plan, he informed Sisera. Immediately Sisera headed to Mount Tabor to fight the Israelites. As Sisera mustered his chariots and troops in the huge plain below Mount Tabor, Deborah yelled to Barak, “Now is the time! Attack them! God is with you!” Barak obediently led his men down the mountain. God helped the Israelites by causing an icy storm to confront the Canaanites. The head wind was so bad that they couldn’t even launch their arrows. As the Kishon River overflowed its banks, many of their horses and chariots became stuck in the mud. The soldiers tried to escape on foot but, with the wind at their backs, Barak and his men were able to chase them down. Soon every Canaanite soldier was dead . . . except for one!

Are you like Barak—unexcited to attempt a task that you don’t feel personally capable of accomplishing? Or are you more like Deborah—willing to attempt whatever God says is possible? God doesn’t want us to evaluate His commands in light of our own abilities and assets. His presence in our lives changes every equation!

69 - A Judge Named Deborah
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