As I continue my study of Judges today, I have some notes to share with you from Judges 4-5. One of the interesting qualities of Judges is that it contains a lot of different stories. Judges 4-5 is the story of Deborah and Barak. If you’re not familiar with it, I invite you to read about it here. In summary, Deborah is a prophetess (judge) who comes to power after the death of the previous judge, Shamgar, son of Anath. Although Judges 4 opens up telling us “the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead” (Judges 4:1 NIV). Ehud was not the judge before Deborah. It was Shamgar, who has but a single verse in the Bible:

After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.

Judges 3:31 (NIV)

Deborah gets a word from the Lord to gather the people for battle, so she calls Barak and tells him to take 10,000 men and attack their enemies because the Lord has given Israel the victory (cf. Judges 4:6-7). However, Barak doesn’t want to go to war without Deborah, so the victory is given to a woman.

Verse Notes

At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot.

Judges 4:15 (NIV)

When we are called by the Lord to do something, we need to do it. Not because God needs our help. He’ll do whatever it is that needs to be done without us. This is where some people say that we can miss our blessing. For the most part, as I have said before, our blessings from God that are for us are for us. God knows what we’re going to do and not do. Therefore, I don’t believe we can miss out completely on God’s blessing for us. We need to trust God to get the best he has for us and for those he brings into our sphere of influence. In this verse, we see the Lord didn’t route the enemy until Barak advanced with the army.

I’d say that we’re all a little like Barak. We might want to serve the Lord in faith, but we’re hesitant to jump right in and do it. Barak showed faith when he and the army advanced, and the Lord brought victory. He just didn’t show complete faith. Barak’s advance is tantamount to taking a step in faith to see the Lord do something. Without that step, who knows what we’ll see? 

“I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.

Judges 4:19 (NIV)

Sisera was the commander of the Canaanite army who served King Jabin. When his charioteers were routed, he fled on foot to the tent of Jael, a woman whose husband was allied with King Jabin. Tired and exhausted from battle and from his flight, Sisera asks Jael for some water. Instead, she gives him some milk. Why milk and not water? 

Judges 5:25 gives us a little more insight: 

He asked for water, and she gave him milk; in a bowl fit for nobles, she brought him curdled milk (emphasis added).

Judges 5:25 (NIV)

Hospitality was, and still is, a big deal in Eastern countries. Jael could have given Sisera some water, but she treated him honorably by giving him some milk instead in a bowl fit for nobles. This helped put Sisera at ease. Milk can also have a calming effect and induce sleep. This is why some people drink a glass of warm milk to help them go to sleep. 

Judges 4 told us about the battle between Israel and the forces of King Jabin. Judges 5 contains Deborah’s song that she and Barak sing about the victory over King Jabin’s forces in Judges 4. 

Although we aren’t told much about the previous judge. Shamgar, we are given some insight into how bad things were during his rule.

“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths. Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.”

Judges 5:6-7 (NIV)

After twenty years of brutal oppression brought on by their sin, the Israelites wouldn’t defend themselves (cf. Judges 4:1-3). I think this gives us some insight into why Barak didn’t immediately go out into battle when directed by the Lord. It wasn’t like Barak’s hesitancy was isolated just to him. We are told, “not a shield or spear could be seen among forty thousand warriors in Israel!” (Judges 5:8 NIV). We know, however, from Deborah’s song that it took a move by the leaders of the people to get the people to move.

“When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves— praise the Lord!

Judges 5:2 (NIV)

If you’re a Christian, then you’re a leader. You might not hold the title of “pastor, preacher,” or “minister” but God didn’t save you to walk alone. Everyone who isn’t saved is blind and walking in darkness. They need someone who can lead them to Christ, but you have to be willing to let the Lord use you. 

A Poetic Note

I wanted to point out this brief segue near the end of Deborah’s song.

“Through the window peered Sisera’s mother; behind the lattice she cried out, ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’ The wisest of her ladies answer her; indeed, she keeps saying to herself, Are they not finding and dividing the spoils: a woman or two for each man, colorful garments as plunder for Sisera, colorful garments embroidered, highly embroidered garments for my neck— all this as plunder?’

Judges 5:28-30 (NIV)

This scene is so well set and beautifully rendered that it stands out clearly to me. I don’t really have much to say about this. Other than I really like it and thought I’d share its beauty with you. It truly allows us to see the mother’s heart in Deborah.

I enjoyed sharing these notes with you today and hope you found something of worth in them. Thanks for stopping by!

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be free from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away. 

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.