Judge of Israel
By Susan E. Todd
(Judges chapters 4 and 5)

After Ehud died the children of Israel returned to their old sinful ways and the Lord again punished them by delivering them into the hands of Canaanites. For twenty years Israel was oppressed.

Deborah, a prophetess, sent for Barak and prophesied victory for the children of Israel if he would lead them in battle.

(Judges 4:6-7) And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, 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.

Barak's reply is recorded in verse 8 "And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go."

Many people think that this was the response of a weak man. But Barak was not a stupid man. I think that he showed great wisdom in this decision. Barak knew that the Lord was with Deborah. After all, God had appointed Deborah a judge. Barak hesitated to lead the army without "spiritual" guidance from God through Deborah. That is why he is a hero of the faith. (Hebrews 11:32) And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

This is not to say that women should be the spiritual leaders in the home or in the church. Let me emphatically state that they should not. Deborah judged Israel at a time when there was little or no law. It was a period of great unrest. She was judge after Ehud when the national spirit of Israel was at its lowest point. (Judges 21:25) In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. It is important to remember that God made Deborah a judge. She was a prophetess called of God to be a mediator between Him and His chosen people of Israel.

There was peace for forty years under Deborah's rule. Her fear of God was her greatest strength. (Samuel was the only other Judge who was called a Prophet.)

The entire fifth chapter of Judges records "Deborah's song" after Barak's victorious battle.

Verse 2 "Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves."

Verse 3 "Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel."

Verse 9 "My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD."

Verse 13 "Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty."

Let me ask you a question. When God gives you a promise and He does what He says He will do, what is the first thing that you do? I hope you get down on your knees before God and thank Him. I hope that you don't accept the gift but reject the giver.

What did Deborah thank God for? Just this particular victory? No! She recalled the days of Mt. Sinai, she remembered the tribes of Judah, she was grateful for God's care of the children of Israel in the past. She also thanked God for the people that God was with in battle and used to accomplish this great victory. She remembered the past.

Be thankful for your past. Remember what God has done for you and never forget that you did not deserve any of it.

  • It is good to thank God. The Bible says in:

(1 Chronicles 23:30) And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even;

(Psalm 105:1) O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.

Tell others what God has done for you. Testify about God and his goodness.

  • It is good to praise God. The Bible says in:

(Psalm 22:25) My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

(Psalm 71:6) By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.

Give praise to God in everything, the little things as well as the big things, your very existence. Testify in church. Be an encouragement to others. Someone else may be facing the very same thing you are or have just come through. It will help them to know what God did for you.

  • It is good to bless God. The Bible says in:

(Psalm 34:1) I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

(Nehemiah 9:5) Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.

Don't always look for blessings for yourself. Bless God. If you don't know how to do this then read the following Psalms and concentrate on the attributes of God.

Psalm 46 God is Our Refuge and Strength
Psalm 47 God is King
Psalm 90 God is Eternal
Psalm 91 God Cares for Us
Psalm 92 God's Goodness
Psalm 93 God's Majesty
Psalm 96 God is the True King
Psalm 97 God's Power
Psalm 98 God Rules the World
Psalm 99 God is Faithful
Psalm 103 God's Love
Psalm 104 God is the Creator
Psalm 105 God Takes Care of His People
Psalm 136 God's Mercy

Look at Luke 19:37-40 "And when he (Jesus) was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."

Should we do any less? What have you to be thankful for? What has God done for you recently and in the past? Have you thanked Him? When was the last time that you told God how good He is, how much you love Him, how glad you are that He died for you and you know Him as your Saviour? Have you praised God lately? Why not? Can you bless God? Why not start today!

A very touching little story is told of a poor woman with two children who had no bed for them to lie upon and scarcely any clothes to cover them. In the depth of winter they were nearly frozen. The mother took the cellar door off the hinges and set it up before the corner where they crouched down to sleep, that some of the draft and cold might be kept from them. One of the children whispered to the mother, when he complained of how badly off they were, "Mother, what do those poor children do who have no cellar door to put up in front of them?" Even then that dear little heart found cause of thankfulness. (The Voice in the Wilderness, November 2000)