Deuteronomy 32:35-36 – Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.’ For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free.
Evil does not stop itself, so it must be stopped. Our world does not much believe in evil, which explains why it keeps growing and darkening every aspect of our world. For good times to start, bad times must end. This requires a leader rising up to stand against evil and bring it to an end so that better days can begin.
This is precisely what happens in this scene of Judges. As a reminder, at the beginning of Judges 4, we read that, “the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” and, as a consequence, “the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera…he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.”
In this and the other scenes in Judges, there is a glaring need for a Spirit-filled king who serves faithfully under the Lordship of Jesus Christ the King of Kings.
Until the time for kings arrives, God raises up a series of Spirit-empowered judges to fill the leadership gap. One of them is Deborah. Knowing God’s time for war had come, Deborah “summoned Barak…and said to him, ‘Has not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you…’” Barak is a bit of a timid man, who knows God has called him to lead the men into battle, but he’s not yet activated on that calling. Deborah demonstrates more courage, reminding him of their battle plan, but he weakly says, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” If you can imagine a high-ranking military general refusing to go into war unless a female political or judicial leader rode into battle with him, then you rightly envision this silly scene. Like too many men, he struggles with insecurity, fear, and passivity. Conversely, Deborah agreed to go but rightly mocked him saying his plan, “will not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”
Perhaps Barak wanted to have Deborah travel to the battle with him because God’s anointing in the Spirit was upon her, which would bring the blessing on her to the place of war? If so, Barak still does not look courageous in this scene, as God had already prophesied and promised victory and so he should have not feared. To be fair, Deborah did not enter the battle as Barak was leading the battle and in the fight with the men killing enemy combatants in war with great success chasing them down without retreat (Judges 4:10, 14, 16, 22). Furthermore, Barak is honored for his battlefield heroics in two other Scriptures outside of Judges that curiously do not mention Deborah. 1 Samuel 12:11 says, “the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Barak and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety.” Speaking of faithful servants, Hebrews 11:32-33 says, “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises…”
Even though the men fought under the strategy of Deborah and battlefield leadership of Barak, it was the Lord who brought the victory over His enemies as, “the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword…all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.” (Judges 4:15-16)
The fact that a smaller army of lesser skilled men was completely obliterated is explained in the next chapter, where Deborah explains the battle in more detail in the context of her worship song to God.
Read Deuteronomy 32:35-36, Romans 12:19, and Hebrews 10:30-31 about how God promises to bring vengeance on those who are His enemies.
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