Judges 4

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Behind Every Successful Woman is a Man 

Judges 4

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • December 8, In the year of our Lord, 2013



  1. Behind every successful man is a woman and 
    1. behind every successful woman is a man, because
    2. self-made men and women do not exist.
      1. God created us all, and
      2. He has used other people to make us what we are today.
  2. Several men helped Deborah become a successful woman. 
    1. In Judges 5, she mentions that she arose a mother in Israel.
      1. Judges 4.4 names her husband, Lapidoth.
      2. Her husband, the father of her children, stood behind her.
    2. There is also Barak, commander of the armies of Israel.
      1. Barak could have been more successful himself, because
      2. he did not do fully what the Lord through Deborah commanded.


  1. Judges 4.1–3 – Evil Returns

    1 When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD (Jdg 4.1).

    1. A judge died and
      1. Israel reverted to evil
      2. right in the sight of the Lord, for
        1. truly, all humanity commits all sin
        2. in the full view of the Lord, because

          13 …there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account (Heb 4.13).

    2. Israel paid for their rebellion and
      1. for their refusal to learn from history, and
      2. for not honoring Yahweh as the one true and living God,

        2 So the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim. 3 And the children of Israel cried out to the LORD; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he harshly oppressed the children of Israel (Jdg 4.2–3).

    3. How could a chariot-less army stand up to chariots of iron?
      1. They can easily,
      2. if they have a woman who knows the Lord.
        1. What are 900 chariots of iron
        2. to a woman who does the bidding of the Creator of iron?
  2. Judges 4.4–5 – Judgment Returns

    4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment (Jdg 4.4–5).

    1. Othniel had the Spirit of the Lord.
      1. Ehud was left-handed.
      2. Shamgar used an ox goad to free Israel.
        1. Judge number 4 was a woman,
        2. who had a capable commander.
    2. Judges fought wars, and
      1. rendered judgments for the Israelites.
      2. This woman did not engage in warfare, but
        1. as a judge she spoke for the Lord, and
        2. He used her to send a man into battle.
  3. Judges 4.6–8 – The Lord Returns

    6 Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “Has not the LORD God of Israel commanded, ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; 7 and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’?” (Jdg 4.6–7).

    1. Hear the words of Deborah carefully, because
      1. they were not truly words of Deborah, but
      2. the words of God.
        1. God commanded Barak to deploy 10,000 troops.
        2. God promised to deliver Sisera into Barak’s hand.
    2. Nevertheless, watch what Barak did,

      8 And Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” (Jdg 4.8).

    3. Thus, one commentator said,

      “Barak, leader of the Israelite army, was aptly named, for he said, ‘Deborah, if you don’t come with me, I’m staying in the barracks’” (Courson).

      1. Barak, this was not Deborah’s idea.
        1. The God of heaven commanded you to take 10,000 men, and
        2. the God of heaven promised to deliver the enemy into your hand.
      2. However, that was not good enough for Barak.
      3. He wanted Deborah along.
    4. Did he think that he needed her because of her influence?
      1. Perhaps he could see that God was with Deborah,
      2. especially since God did not speak directly to Barak, but
        1. to Deborah.
        2. However, regardless of his reasoning, he put conditions on obedience!
  4. Judges 4.9 – Glory Returns

    9 So she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh (Jdg 4.9).

    1. Even as Moses hit the rock the second time and water still came forth, but
      1. he was not allowed into Canaan because of it, so
      2. Barak would be successful, because
        1. this was not about him, but the people of God, yet,
        2. a woman would get the glory for killing the general of the oppressor.
    2. Beware of putting conditions on obeying the Lord.
      1. Moses could not enter the Land of Canaan.
      2. Barak did not get the honor for destroying their oppressor.
      3. Abraham and Sarah gave the world the enemy of the Jews.
      4. Adam and Eve brought sin and death into the world.
      5. Saul became a dishonorable king and died in dishonor.
  5. Judges 4.10–13 – The Army Returns

    10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, and Deborah went up with him (Jdg 4.10).

    1. It is never too late to start obeying God, but
      1. we always do better the sooner we start, because
      2. while Barak delayed, the enemy readied himself,

        11 Now Heber the Kenite, of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, had separated himself from the Kenites and pitched his tent near the terebinth tree at Zaanaim, which is beside Kedesh. 12 And they reported to Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. 13 So Sisera gathered together all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth Hagoyim to the River Kishon (Jdg 4.11–13).

    2. The battle approached.
      1. The armies lined up.
      2. Soon many men would die.
    3. Sadly, Ecclesiastes 3 affirms that there are times for killing and for war.
      1. Name something worse than war.
      2. Yet, sometimes it has to be fought to rid the world of
        1. Hitlers,
        2. Saddam Husseins,
        3. Osame bin Ladins, and
        4. Jabins and Siseras,

          1 To everything there is a season,
          A time for every purpose under heaven…

          3 A time to kill,
          And a time to heal;
          A time to break down,
          And a time to build up…

          8 A time to love,
          And a time to hate;
          A time of war,
          And a time of peace.
          (Ecc 3.1, 3, 8)

      3. What goes on in the heart of man as he readies for battle, and
        1. what goes on in the hearts of the people
        2. who will suffer from the war?
  6. Judges 4.14–16 – Freedom Returns

    14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the LORD gone out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him (Jdg 4.14).

    1. When the Lord promises something to you, take it.
    2. Deborah was a leader.
      1. Barak was a leader.
      2. Later, David was a leader, but
        1. Second Samuel 5 shows that Yahweh is the ultimate leader,
        2. during David’s time, Deborah and Barak’s time, and during our time,

          22 Then the Philistines went up once again and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. 23 Therefore David inquired of the LORD, and He said, “You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. 24 And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the LORD will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.” 25 And David did so, as the LORD commanded him; and he drove back the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer (2Sa 5.22–25).

          1. When the Lord leads
          2. no weapon or army
            1. can defeat Him and
            2. His people,

              17 “No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
              And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
              You shall condemn.
              This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
              And their righteousness is from Me,”
              Says the Lord.
              (Isa 54.17)

    3. Therefore, it does not surprise me to read what happened to Sisera,

      15 And the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot (Jdg 4.15).

      1. We know Barak and his army of 10,000 wielded the swords.
        1. However, the writer did not say Barak routed Sisera and his army,
        2. nor did the writer say it was Deborah.
          1. It was Jehovah, the God of Israel,
          2. although Barak did his part, as the narrative shows,

            16 But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth Hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left (Jdg 4.16).

    4. That happens when we work and fight for the Lord.
      1. No one can stand before us.
      2. Our sword, the word of God, slays
        1. every argument against the truth, and
        2. every false doctrine.
    5. However, we need to know that Jesus Christ has gone out before us, because
      1. we hear the sound of marching in the Scriptures.
      2. Do not fear, fight the good fight of the faith.
  7. Judges 4.17–21 – Family Returns

    17 However, Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. 18 And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear.” And when he had turned aside with her into the tent, she covered him with a blanket (Jdg 4.17–18).

    1. These Kenites separated from Israel, and
      1. made peace with the enemies of Israel.
      2. However, some in the household still had loyalties toward Israel.
    2. Sisera alone remains of his army.
      1. He saw the oppressed Israelites free themselves.
      2. Then he thought a peace pact would save him.
    3. However, regardless of
      1. the unions men form,
      2. the weapons they have,
      3. the money they pile up, and
      4. the numbers they accumulate,
        1. if they oppress God’s people,
          1. they will lose and
          2. God’s people will win.
        2. That is the message of the Book of Revelation and the Book of Judges.
    4. Watch what happens next,

      19 Then he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him (Jdg 4.19).

    5. He must have really thought that he had it made,

      20 And he said to her, “Stand at the door of the tent, and if any man comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there any man here?’ you shall say, ‘No.’” (Jdg 4.20).

      1. Knowing that there was a peace pact and
      2. that he was a warrior,
        1. he knew she would do what he asked.
        2. She did much more than he asked,

          21 Then Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went down into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died (Jdg 4.21).

          1. She had a plan.
          2. She had a tent peg and a hammer.
            1. She walked to him quietly,
            2. knelt down next to him,
            3. found his temple,
            4. gently placed the tent peg on the temple,
              1. then with years of experience from driving tent pegs,
              2. she took aim and hammered away.
                1. His body must have jolted, but
                2. she was unmoved and
                  1. pounded the peg
                  2. through his head into the ground.
      3. You talk about a splitting headache; Excedrin headache numero uno!
  8. Judges 4.22–24 – Israel Returns

    22 And then, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, “Come, I will show you the man whom you seek.” And when he went into her tent, there lay Sisera, dead with the peg in his temple (Jdg 4.22).

    1. Barak knew that God had kept His promise
      1. to deliver Sisera into Israel’s hand and
      2. to give the glory to a woman.
    2. Again, the writer gave the ultimate glory to God,

      23 So on that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan in the presence of the children of Israel (Jdg 4.23).

    3. The heroes appeared to be
      1. Deborah, Barak and his army, and Jael, but
      2. God subdued Jabin and Sisera.
    4. Thus, Israel continued to become mighty,

      24 And the hand of the children of Israel grew stronger and stronger against Jabin king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan (Jdg 4.24).

      1. As long as Israel remained faithful to God,
      2. they grew stronger and stronger, for


  1. we are never alone in our successes. 
    1. God is behind them all, and
    2. He uses people along the way.
  2. Therefore, let us remember 
    1. those people and
    2. let us give God the glory.
  3. Hebrews 11 lists Barak as among the heroes of faith!

    32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah… (Heb 11.32).
  4. Do you have faith? in Jesus? that you shall win?