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Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: Deborah—Judges 4.

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DEBORAH.


"I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey which thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman."-Judges 4:9.

It is not the usual order of God to put woman in the place of authority: "Adam was first formed, then Eve." (1Ti 2:13.) Deborah was an exception. The children of Israel had sinned grievously against the Lord, and apparently there was no man that could serve His purpose as judge over Israel. Just as, later on, He was driven to employ the child Samuel when the high priest Eli was not equal to the occasion, so now, a woman must do the part of a man.

It is always sin which puts things out of God's order, and all kinds of complications follow. At this time, the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and "the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles." Again and again, this history had been repeated. God had fulfilled His word, "If ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments; and if ye shall despise My statutes, or if your soul abhor My judgments, so that ye will not do all My commandments, but that ye break My covenant: I will also do this unto you;…I will set My face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you." (Lev 26:14-17.) But God had made a provision, which was recorded by the Psalmist, "Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses." (Psa 107:6, 107:13, 107:19, 107:28.)

After twenty years of oppression by the king of Canaan, "the children of Israel cried unto the Lord," "And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time:…and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment." (Jud 4:1-4.) As their cry rose up to heaven, God, in answer, stirred the heart of this remarkable woman, and she knew how to understand the mind of the Lord, and the way of His deliverance, for she was in the secret of her God, and she knew that all things were possible to Him.

"She sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam, out of Kedesh‐naphtali, and said unto him:

"Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go, and draw toward Mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee, to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand."

Had Barak possessed the same faith in his God which characterised Deborah, and had he possessed true manliness, he might, perhaps, have gone out alone and unaided; but Barak feared to undertake the command of an army against Sisera, except he had some one by his side to encourage him. Barak was not himself sufficiently acquainted with his God to receive direct communications from Him, but he was wise enough and humble enough to learn from a woman when he knew she was sent of God. He said to the prophetess:

"If thou wilt go with me, then I will go but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go." (Jdg 4:8.)

There is a mightier power than many know in the fellowship of kindred spirits. In the work of the Lord, who that preaches to a difficult congregation does not know the difference it makes when some half‐dozen who are in full sympathy are sitting near him, with closed eyes, and hearts engaged in prayer? Nevertheless, a true man of God is not dependent upon any man; and when Barak refused to go except Deborah should go with him, there was an evident want of manliness in his character, which gives one easily to understand why a woman should have been used in such an exceptional way to be over him in Israel. Deborah in this also knew the mind of God. She said:

"I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding, the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman."

When men are not manly, they cannot be trusted with honour. Conceit and unmanliness generally go together. God knows what instruments He can trust.

"Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh." (Jdg 4:9.) And with the inspiration of this inspired woman, he gathered ten thousand men. Sisera, the captain of the Canaanitish army, heard that Barak had marshalled an army to oppose him, and he gathered together his "nine hundred chariots of iron," and all the people that were with him over a large space of country, from Harosheth of the Gentiles in the south, unto the river of Kishon in the north of his dominions. But Barak needed a fresh impetus, and Deborah called him, saying:

"Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the Lord gone out before thee?" Thus called, "Barak went down from Mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him."

Sometimes there are things to be done and. dared in the Church of God which men fear to attempt. An Elizabeth Fry was a leader in prison work; a Sarah Foster, of Newcastle, in the rescue of the fallen. It was women who began the great temperance movement in America. It was a woman, the late Mrs. Daniells, of Aldershot, who first thought of Soldiers' Homes and systematic work amongst the soldiers as a class.

It was a woman, Miss Marsh, who first began work among the navvies. The policemen's work, the work among railway men, sailors, etc., has generally in England had its origin with one or more godly women. A woman may give the inspiration to a work as Deborah did to Barak.

"But there was One who went before him and before his host. It was no power of Deborah's, nor yet of Barak's, nor any military genius in his officers, which won that victory.

"THE LORD DISCOMFITED SISERA,

and all his chariots, and all his host with the edge of the sword before Barak:" and Sisera, who had thought to gain an easy victory, jumped down from his chariot, "and fled away on his feet." (Jdg 4:15.) But God had determined his destruction; and as Deborah had prophesied, he became the victim of a woman.

Entering the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, who was a friend of Jabin's, Jael met him with hospitality, gave him refreshment, and bade him lie down to rest, while she stood as sentinel at the door to answer or baffle any inquiries. What her intention might have been with regard to Sisera, we know not. God has the hearts of all men in his hands; and, whether driven by a sudden impulse, or whether conscious that she was an instrument of God in what she did, Jael took a nail of the tent and a hammer, and with one determined, decided blow, she drove the iron stake right through the sleeping man's temples, and fastened it safely into the ground with the blow.

The poor, writhing body soon ceased to breathe, and the enemy of Israel was no more. It was an unwomanly deed, but intended by God to be a reproach to unmanly men.

When it so happens that, in politics, in the affairs of nations, in Church matters, and in Christian work, women are found to dare things which men are not courageous enough to undertake, it is not intended to institute a new order of things, but rather to provoke men to jealousy, that they may take the first place, which God had given them. But God gave the glory neither to Jael, nor to Deborah, nor to Barak. God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel. And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin, the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin, king of Canaan."

Rahab—Joshua 2. ← Prior Section
Deborah’s Song—Judges 5. Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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