Daily Devotional

May 23, 2019

Daybreak: Judges 4:1-24

“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.” (Judges 4:14)

During the Second World War in Europe, a father, carrying his young son, rushed from a building that had just been bombed. Ahead, in their front yard, was a shell hole. Amid the smoke, ash, and flying debris, the father set down his son and jumped into the hole, seeking shelter as quickly as possible. He held up his arms and shouted, “Jump, son! I’ll catch you.” But the boy, terrified, cried: “Father, I can’t see you!” Delay meant certain death, for planes were flying overhead. Against the red glow of the sky, the father could see the shadow of his son standing overhead, and he called again: “Jump, son, for I can see you!” The boy jumped and was saved from harm because of his implicit trust in his father.

The Christian life is a life of faith. We cannot always see where God is or where He wants us to go, but we can know the Father so well that no matter what He asks, we will obey without fear. Impossible circumstances, opposition, and physical limitations may cause us to pause and wonder how God is going to work, but if we take God at His word, as Barak did, we will see the hand of God work and taste the victory.

That Barak “went down from Mount Tabor” is significant because the Israelites, being infantrymen, had a physical advantage in the mountains; on the plains, the chariots had the advantage. Yet, Barak was so confident that God would bring them victory, that he rushed into the plain in the face of the deadly iron chariots.

How is your faith in God? Do you embrace His promises with such trust that you would, in a sense, “leap out where you cannot see,” or “rush into the face of the enemy?” Faith like that comes from an intimate relationship with the Father who can see what we cannot, and who can overthrow the fiercest of opponents. God honors faith like that.

Background

Following the death of Ehud, Deborah was selected by God to save the nation of Israel after they had once again turned away from the Lord. Deborah was a faithful woman chosen by God to serve in the offices of prophet and judge. She was the one who spoke for the Lord and conveyed God’s will to the Israelites in matters both civil and religious.

Jabin was most likely the generic name for a king in Hazor, much like the title “Pharaoh” in Egypt. This Jabin may have been a descendant of the Jabin defeated by Joshua some 100 years earlier. Due to their carelessness and backsliding, the Israelites passively allowed the city of Hazor to be rebuilt and repopulated after its destruction by Joshua and the armies of Israel. Now God was using the Canaanites to oppress the Israelites and to cause them to return to Him.

Canaanite chariots were equipped with sharp iron blades on their axles, which would ordinarily have been terrifying to foot soldiers such as the Israelites. In addition, the horses’ hooves and bridles were also covered with sharp spikes. Frequently, two chariots would draw between them a log set aflame with pitch — a fearsome and destructive engine of war.

The armies of Sisera were slaughtered after the Lord sent a sudden storm and confusion upon them (5:20-21). All the men were slain except Sisera, who fled away on foot and found what he hoped to be a safe hiding place in the tent of a sympathetic party. The Kenites, a nomadic tribe which dwelt in the southern region of Judah, were relatives of Moses and friends of the Israelites, but politically neutral. Jael, evidently, did not share her husband’s sympathies with Jabin.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II.   Conditions during the period of the judges
      B.   The judges of the period
            4.   Deborah and Barak
                  a.   Israel’s sin (4:1)
                  b.   Israel’s servitude to Jabin (4:2-3)
                  c.   Israel’s deliverance (4:4-24)
                        (1)   The preparations for battle (4:4-11)
                        (2)   The defeat of Sisera’s army (4:12-16)
                        (3)   The death of Sisera (4:17-22)
                        (4)   The demise of Jabin (4:23-24)

A Closer Look

  1. When Deborah told Barak that God had promised to give him victory in battle, how did he respond?
     
  2. Why do you think Barak was unwilling to go without Deborah by his side?
     
  3. Deborah prophesied that Jabin would be delivered into Barak’s hand and that the Lord would give Sisera into the hand of a woman. How were those two prophecies fulfilled?
     
  4. In your own life, think of a time when you acted on your faith in God. How were you rewarded for your faith?

Conclusion

God honors faith where we would, in a sense, “leap out where we cannot see,” or “rush into the face of the enemy.” Faith like that comes from having an intimate relationship with the Father who can see what we cannot, and who can overthrow the fiercest of opponents. How is your faith in God?

Reference Materials