A Duet of Praise

Deborah and Barak

By Pastor Roger Eng, May 14, 2023

TITLE: A Duet of Praise (Judges 4-5)

• Deborah is the 3rd major judge in the book of Judges. • She is called a judge, a prophetess, and “the mother of Israel.” • In the days of the Judges, there was no king and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. The nation of Israel was in a moral and spiritual freefall. • Who is going to save Israel from all this chaos? Mother Deborah!

• The key verse is Judges 5:1-2 (NLT), On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song: 2 “Israel’s leaders took charge, and the people gladly followed. Praise the Lord!”

• The story of Deborah is refreshing. It shows us when godly leaders lead, and people gladly follow, the Lord is praised and positive change happens.

Judges 4:1-5 (NLT), After Ehud’s death, the Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight. 2 So the Lord turned them over to King Jabin of Hazor, a Canaanite king. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-haggoyim. 3 Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots, ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help. 4 Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time. 5 She would sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would go to her for judgment.

• 150 years after Joshua, the Canaanites have rebuilt Hazor and they are terrorizing Israel. • V3, they “ruthlessly oppressed” Israel for 20 years. • Hazor, is today, the largest archeological dig in Israel (200 acres) • Archeologists have discovered a burn layer from the time of Joshua and many smashed idols. • King Jabin and the Caananites rebuilt and terrorized Israel by robbing, raping, and wrecking Israel’s worship. • The Canaanites intentionally got between Israel and God. Deborah, the judge, the mother of Israel, was ready to go to war and protect God’s children.

Judges 4:6-9 (NLT) 6 One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam, who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. She said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: Call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor. 7 And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.” 8 Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.” 9 “Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.”

• The LORD, declares war on the Canaanite King Jabin and his military commander Sisera. • Deborah calls for a showdown in the Jezreel Valley, the scene of many famous battles from Elijah to Napoleon. This is the valley of Armageddon, the scene of God’s final battle in history.

Judges 4:12-15 (NLT), When Sisera was told that Barak ... had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 he called for all 900 of his iron chariots and all of his warriors, and they marched from Harosheth-haggoyim to the Kishon River. 14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get ready! This is the day the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.” So Barak led his 10,000 warriors down the slopes of Mount Tabor into battle. 15 When Barak attacked, the Lord threw Sisera and all his chariots and warriors into a panic. Sisera leaped down from his chariot and escaped on foot.

• The LORD fought and routed Sisera. The KJV says the Lord discomfited them – meaning it was a humiliating, overwhelming, embarrassing defeat. • How did the LORD do this?

Judges 5:20-21 (NLT) The stars fought from heaven. The stars in their orbits fought against Sisera.21 The Kishon River swept them away— that ancient torrent, the Kishon. March on with courage, my soul!

• The Lord sent a huge thunderstorm and a flash flood on the Kishon River. • Just like Pharaoh and his 600 chariots were drowned by the LORD at the Red Sea, Sisera and his 900 chariots were swept away by the swollen River. That’s why Sisera ran away. His chariot was stuck in the mud!
• The Deborah/Barak battle in Judges 4-5 is similar to the story of Moses/Miriam in Exodus 14-15. • In both stories, God’s people are cornered, and God defeats the enemy chariot people with water. Both battles end with a song!

Judges 4:17 (NLT), Meanwhile, Sisera ran to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because Heber’s family was on friendly terms with King Jabin of Hazor. 18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come into my tent, sir. Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. 19 “Please give me some water,” he said. “I’m thirsty.” So she gave him some milk from a leather bag and covered him again. 20 “Stand at the door of the tent,” he told her. “If anybody comes and asks you if there is anyone here, say no.”

Judges 4:21-24 (NLT) 21 But when Sisera fell asleep from exhaustion, Jael quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg in her hand. Then she drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and so he died…. 23 So on that day Israel saw God defeat Jabin, the Canaanite king. 24 And from that time on Israel became stronger and stronger against King Jabin until they finally destroyed him…

Judges 5:31, gives us the ending .… “Then there was peace in the land for forty years.”

• Who is Jael? She is the woman Deborah prophesied about, “the Lord’s victory will be at the hands of a woman.” • Jael is a foreign woman whose family was on friendly terms with Canaanites. • Sisera runs there for safety. • Jael gives him a tent to hide in, a blanket, some warm milk, and then she nails him to the ground with a tent peg and hammer.
• The days of the oppressors and their oppression was over. • Israel got stronger and is learning how to fight the LORD’s battles and win again. • King Jabin’s army is defeated and his evil rule will end. • Israel will be at peace for 40 years. • Jael, a foreign woman is the hero. Apparently, she was once on the Canaanites side, but she has seen how evil they are, so she switched parties and fought for Israel now.

3 Applications from this Duet of Praise (Deborah and Barak)

  1. Praise the Lord when godly leaders lead.

• That’s the first line of Deborah and Barak’s duet in Judges 5:2. • For 20 years the Canaanites intimidated and oppressed Israel, and paganized Israel – until Deborah, Barak, and a new foreign ally – Jael “took charge.” The terror campaign of the Canaanites ended.
• May we be brave like these leaders and take charge and stand up to evil in our dark and intimidating times.

  1. Praise the Lord when godly people unite.

• That’s the second line in Deborah and Barak’s duet. • Praise the Lord when leaders take charge and the people gladly follow. • It took 20 years to get 10k soldiers to show up to fight against evil. • The 4-5 tribes who showed up to fight are praised – like Zebulun and Naphtali who risked their lives. • The tribes who didn’t show up to fight are shamed – Dan, Asher, and Rueben didn’t fight! • All it takes for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing. • That means, when good people unite and succeed, evil people do nothing.

  1. Praise the Lord when God is God.

• Praise the Lord for this duet of praise from Deborah and Barak. • This story reminds us. God is God. There is no other. • When we read these OT battles, we have to read them carefully and understand these OT battles theologically. These stories are polemics against false gods! • The Canaanite god was Baal. Baal is the storm God! • Barry G. Webb, “… the battle between Barak and Sisera… [is] a great showdown between heaven and earth, between Yahweh and the kings/gods of Canaan.” • Judges 5:8 states the problem: Israel chose new gods! • A jealous God won’t allow that. • The LORD used Deborah and Barak and Jael to restore the 1st and 2nd commandments: • “You shall have no other gods before Me. • “You shall not make for yourself a carved image.