Dave Burnette's Commentary

Judges Chapter 4

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel 
Date Penned: (550 BC)
Overview: A Record of Israel's Compromise in the Promised Land (c 1-21)
Theme: The Rescue of Israel by the Judges (c 3-16)
Message: Deborah and Barak (v 1-23)

Judges 4 Commentary

(4:1) The Seriousness of Sin - Israel sinned "in the sight of the LORD." Our sins harm both ourselves and others, but all sin is ultimately against God because it disregards his authority over us and his desires for our lives. When confessing his sin, David prayed, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight" (Psalm 51:4). Recognizing the seriousness of sin in our lives is the first step toward having it removed.

(4:2-3) King Jabin - Nothing more is known about this King Jabin. (It is likely that the name Jabin was a royal name given to a succession of kings.) Joshua had defeated a king by that name years earlier and burned the city of Hazor to the ground (Joshua 11:1-11). Either the city had been rebuilt by this time or Jabin was still associated with the ruined fortress and was hoping to rebuild it. This is the only time during the period of the judges when the Israelites' enemies came from within their land. The Israelites had failed to drive out all the Canaanites. These Canaanites had regrouped and were attempting to restore their lost power. If the Israelites had obeyed God in the first place and had driven the Canaanites from the land, this incident would not have happened. Sisera was probably a hired mercenary commander from one of the Aegean sea peoples (related to the Philistines).

(4:2-3) Deborah Prays for Victory - Chariots were the tanks of the ancient world. Made of iron or wood, they were pulled by one or two horses and were the most feared and powerful weapons of the day. Some chariots even had razor-sharp knives extending from the wheels designed to mutilate helpless foot soldiers. The Canaanite army had 900 iron chariots. The people of Israel were not powerful enough to defeat such an invincible army. Therefore, Jabin and Sisera had no trouble oppressing the people--until a faithful woman named Deborah called upon God.

(4:3) Call Upon the Name of the Lord - After 20 years of unbearable circumstances, the Israelites finally cried to the Lord for help. But God should be the first place we turn when we are facing struggles or dilemmas. The Israelites chose to go their own way, which led to intense suffering. We often do the same. Trying to direct our lives without God's help leads to struggle and confusion. By contrast, when we stay in regular contact with the Lord, we are less likely to create painful circumstances for ourselves. This is a lesson the Israelites never fully learned. When struggles come our way, God wants us to come to him first, seeking his strength and guidance

(4:4-24) God Chooses Debroah - The Bible records the stories of several women who held national leadership positions, and Deborah was an exceptional woman: judge, warrior, and poet. She was obviously the best. person for the job, and God chose her to lead Israel. God can choose anyone to lead his people, young or old, man or woman. Don't let your prejudices get in the way of supporting those God may have chosen to lead you, and don't believe the lie that you aren't qualified to do what God has called you to do.

(4:6-8) Barak Fails to Trust the Lord - Was Barak cowardly or just in need of support? We don't know Barak's character, but we see the character of a great leader in Deborah, who took charge as God directed. Deborah told Barak that God would be with him in battle, but that was not enough for Barak. He wanted Deborah to go with him too. Barak's request shows that at heart he trusted human strength more than God's promise. A person of real faith steps out at God's command, even if he or she must do so alone.

(4:9) Deborah Leads Israel - Deborah commanded great respect from the people of Israel. How did she accomplish this in a culture so dominated by men? She was responsible for leading the people into battle, but more than that, she influenced them to live for God after the battle was over. Her personality drew people together and commanded so much respect from Barak, a military general, that he refused to go to battle without her. She was also a prophetess, someone whose main role was to encourage the people to obey God. Those who lead must care about the spiritual condition of those being led. A true leader loves people, not just success.

(4:11) Heber Remains Neutral - Heber was Jael's husband (4:17). He was from the Kenite tribe, descendants of Moses' father-in-law and longtime allies of Israel. But for some reason, Heber decided to remain neutral in this war, maybe because Jabin's army appeared to have the military advantage. Heber was probably the one who told Sisera that the Israelites were camped near Mount Tabor (4:12). Although Heber threw in his lot with Jabin and his forces, his wife, Jael, did not (4;21).

(4:18-21) Siseria is Offered a Hiding Place - Sisera couldn't have been more pleased when Jael offered him her tent as a hiding place. First, because Jael was the wife of Heber, a man friendly to Sisera's forces (see the note on 4:11), he thought she could be trusted. Second, because men were not allowed to enter women's tents, no one would think to look for Sisera there.Jael showed great courage, cleverness, and strength. Because women were in charge of pitching the tents, Jael would have had no problem driving the tent peg completely through Sisera's head while he slept. Deborah's prediction was thus fulfilled: The honor of conquering Sisera went to a brave and resourceful woman (4:9).



Dave Burnette's Life Application

Women in His Service


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Judges with Chapter 4 and we see Deborah and Barak as the Lord uses Deborah as the 4th Judge. In using her we see the Lord using a women in leadership. In making application we see that the Lord uses women in the service of the Lord. Many today in the Church say that women cannot be used in the Ministry of the Lord. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Lord uses women just as much as men in His Service. That being said there are Leadership principles and qualifications in the Church today. Women are not to be Pastors or usurp authority in teaching men but this doesn't limit there importance or being used of the Lord. My wife reaches as many souls as I have and is used as much, or if not more, in the Ministry we have been called - just as Deborah was used in our text today. How about you? Do you see how the Lord uses Women in His Service? Let us learn from our text today and the life of Deborah understanding that the Lord uses women in His Service.


Judges 4

Judges 4

 1And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.

 2And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.

 3And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.

 4And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

 5And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.

 6And 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?

 7And 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.

 8And 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.

 9And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.

 10And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.

 11Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.

 12And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.

 13And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon.

 14And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him.

 15And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.

 16But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.

 17Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.

 18And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.

 19And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.

 20Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and enquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.

 21Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.

 22And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.

 23So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.

 24And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.