Judges 4:1-5:31; Luke 22:35-53; Psalm 94:1-23; Proverbs 14:3-4
When I was in college some years ago, I wrote a song to Judges 5:27. It was a popular thing to do, and still is, putting Scripture to music. Well, I am no great musician and my song is no great song. If you doubt my honesty, reread Judges 5:27. Yes, it's an odd verse to make into a song. I thought I was pretty funny at the time, and my sisters still roll their eyes at me when I talk about it or try to sing it again. I set the verse to all minor chords and tried to make it a dark, foreboding-sounding song to match the story in which it's found.
I do actually love this story found in Judges 4-5 because for the first time in Scripture, and one of the few times, we have women as the primary heroes of the story. Most of the time, we see women playing supporting roles. But here the women get the limelight and the men are more of the background players.
First, we have Deborah, "a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, [who] was leading Israel at that time" (Judg. 4:4, emphasis mine). Wow, this is definitely the first (and I'm pretty sure only) time we see a women identified as leading Israel. She is confident, strong, and discerning; all come to seek her wisdom. She is sure of who God is and that he will do what he says he is going to do. Her actions show her belief.
Barak is in the supporting role. He's the commander of 10,000 men (that's a lot of men), but afraid to go into battle without this one woman. And then comes along the other man in this story, Sisera. His opposing army consists of "900 iron chariots and all the men to go with him" (vs. 14). So far, this has all the makings of an epic battle. Can't you just picture the scene the movie producers could make with this line up?
Yet the Lord does not deliver the Israelites on the battle field in the armies of men, but rather in the lowly tent of a woman. We meet our second heroine, Jael, known only as the "wife of Heber the Kenite" (vs. 17). She kills this great warrior through cunning, wisdom, courage, and pure gruesome force. It's quite dramatic and almost too bloody to write about. We don't find this story in any of our Sunday School books.
So, what do we do with this story (besides make silly songs about it in college)? Firstly, I think we can take encouragement that God is always at work and is going to accomplish his purposes, no matter how unusual the way may be. We can be like Deborah, ready to join him, or we can be like Barak, who doubts and holds back, and thus misses an opportunity to be great for the name of the Almighty God. Secondly (for those of us who are female), we can rejoice and embrace being women who are confident, strong, and wise in our faith. We can be bold and speak up and do mighty actions in the name of Christ. We don't need to leave all the leading roles to the men. Finally, we also see that God can use anyone who is willing. Even ordinary, everyday tent-dwelling women.
Lord Jesus, may I be a woman of strong, confident, powerful faith and action like Deborah and Jael. Use me as you will to accomplish your kingdom purposes.
- Mary Matthias
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