The Honor for the Victory Goes to a Woman
Barak Chickens Out and Insists Judge Deborah Goes with Him
The book of Judges is a colorful read about some strange characters. Except for Judge Deborah, all the other judges in this book are male. That makes Deborah unique. Perhaps that’s why I like her so much, even more so than the better-known Gideon and Samson.
Passing on God’s instructions, Deborah tells Barak to raise an army and go fight their enemy, led by Sisera. Barak cowers. He says the only way he’ll do that is if Deborah goes with him. What a chicken. What a poor example of leadership.
Judge Deborah agrees to go with him, but she gives him a warning. She prophesies that since he won’t do as God instructed, the credit for the victory will go to a woman (Judges 4:8-9). I once thought she’s referring to herself. But she isn’t. She’s talking about another woman.
As the battle wages on—that Barak leads with Deborah’s support—the enemy Sisera flees for his life. He ends up at the home of Jael. She welcomes him and pretends to befriend him. She feeds him and lulls him to sleep. Then she drives a tent peg into his temple and kills him (Judges 4:21). Though it’s graphic, much like the rest of the book of Judges, a tent peg is likely the only means she has available to kill him.Jael is the one who receives credit for the victory. Click To Tweet
Jael is the woman Deborah prophesied about. Jael is the one who receives credit for the victory. And we get confirmation of this in the next chapter when we read what I call the Psalm of Deborah. There she blesses Jael and recounts the details of her exploits (Judges 5:24-27).
We hail Judge Deborah as a courageous woman and worthy judge. We remember Barak for his lack of courage and cowardice. And we celebrate Jael for her brave actions. The honor of this victory goes to her.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.