Journey Through The Scriptures

The Life of Five Righteous Women

Lesson 4: Deborah and Barak Defeat Israel's Enemies

(Scripture to Read: Judges 4:11–24)

The period of the judges was a difficult spiritual era in Israel, but also a time of war and violence. The battle against Sisera and his Canaanite army is one example. Barak may have been a reluctant leader, but when Deborah said, "Go!", he charged a strong force with iron chariots. The song of Deborah (Judges 5:21) indicates that God caused the Kishon river to flood, which would have bogged Sisera's chariots in the mud and made them useless.

Deborah and Barak won a tremendous victory that day as Sisera's army was destroyed to a man. From that point forward, the power of the Canaanites in Galilee declined until they were no longer a threat to Israel. The death of Sisera himself is a startling example of the judgment that God brought against Israel's enemies. Deborah had prophesied that God would hand Sisera over to a woman, and her prophecy came true. (For further study, read Judges 5:1-31.)

Study Questions

  1. Verse 11 is a parenthetical note introducing the family of a woman named Jael (v. 17). Why did Sisera have reason to believe Jael would help him hide from Barak?
  2. How did Deborah's presence and words of encouragement to Barak change his attitude toward the leadership role God had given him?
  3. It is obvious that Jael did not share her family's loyalty to Sisera and his king. What risks did Jael take to bring Sisera to justice?
  4. How did Deborah's victory over Israel's Canaanite oppressors illustrate God's promise to Israel in Deuteronomy 28:13?

Something to Think About

The Bible is clear that this victory was not won by superior military strength or better strategy. Deborah, Barak, and the Israelite army defeated their enemies because God was with them.

We do not face hostile armies in our individual lives, but we do have battles to fight. Instead of trying to fight them on our own, we need to take to heart Moses' words as Israel faced the Egyptian army: "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still" (Exodus 14:14).