By: Katlyn Hudgins
A look at Judges 5: The Victory Song of Deborah and Barak
In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, roads were deserted. Those who traveled took back roads. Villages in Israel were deserted— deserted until I, Deborah, took a stand— took a stand as a mother of Israel. -Judges 5 :6-7
This story took place “in the days of Jael.”
Jael isn’t someone that is spoken about when people talk about the Bible. It isn’t popular like the story of Noah’s ark or Jonah and the big fish, but it is powerful; power that stems from what happens when God configures His people, this time two women, together for his glory.
Mary and Martha, sisters.
Ruth and Naomi, daughter and mother.
Shiphrah and Puah, midwives.
This story is no different: Deborah and Jael, bold leaders God used to bring victory to His people.
Let's set the stage: Sisera was a commander of the Canaanite army with over nine hundred iron chariots who, with such an impressive military, oppressed the Jews for two decades. Deborah, the fourth judge and prophet of Israel during this time, took a stand to rise against his oppression. Because Deborah stood as the mother of Israel, the commanders of Israel came together to fight with Deborah. The armies from Ephraim, soldiers of Benjamin, men from Machir and Zebulun and Issachar all came encouraging Deborah to lead and they went to battle with her! Notice the word ‘with’.
These great men of Israel were not there on their own, they did not lead the advancement, they were with Deborah. They rallied behind her leadership and took arms to fight with her. Barak even refused to go to battle without her, a wise man knew she was exactly who the people needed.
Deborah, the fierce judge and prophet of the Lord.
Together they went to face this enemy and defeated the Canaanite armies. Even the “The stars fought from heaven. They fought against Sisera from their heavenly paths.” (Judges 5:20) Even God in Heaven was on their side against Sisera. The One who commands the stars, The King of Heaven, was fighting beside Deborah. God used Deborah to change the entire nation and change history forever.
After his army was defeated Sisera ran away to hide and ended up at the tent of Jael. She put on a face of hospitality and with warm milk and a blanket she tucked him in to sleep. Grabbing a tent peg and a hammer, Jael shattered his skull with a blow so fierce that it pinned his head to the dirt. Can you imagine the power that is needed to drive a tent pike through a man's skull and into the dirt? I can picture her raising strong tanned arms wielding her hammer above her head and bringing it down. I imagine her thinking, "For my people and my God."
There is a scene in Lord of the Rings when the Lord of the Nazgul is wiping out their armies left and right because he was the creature that no man could kill. Mighty men cowered at the sight of him, the one that is unkillable. In the movie that is the moment when Eowyn stands up to the evil darkness, whips off her helmet and says, “I am no man.” She slays him dead on the battle field. Eowyn killed the one that no man could kill. The book by JRR Tolkien went even deeper. The line, “I am no man” barely touches on Eowyn's true bravery in the face of pure evil as she faced the Witch King. In the book Eowyn actually laughs in the face of the Witch King when he threatens to drag her to the pits of hell and mind rape her until she dies. She LAUGHS. Her bravery is unmatched and she literally exhibits Proverbs 31:25 in action: “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” That is what a God-fearing woman is called to do.
When I picture Jael driving the tent peg into Sisera’s skull, I picture her like Eowyn. Fiercely protective of her people, determined to do the right thing, and to kill the one that no man could kill. God lead her and empowered her to do so.
For the rest of eternity Jael’s name is written in song and praise for following God and protecting her people. For the rest of eternity Deborah’s name is written in His Word as one of His women that fulfilled her calling as a mother of Israel. She was the mother who went to war for her people.
A mighty mother who did not sit down or go home.
No. She followed the Lord and went to battle.
She went to war.
God used them to lead the people into victory.
At the end of this story it was the prophet Samuel who reminded the Israelites because they forgot the Lord their God they were subject to the evil Sisera. And it took God's people, men and women, to defeat the enemy. Deborah and Barak together were used by God together to usher in 40 years of peace.
“But may those who love the Lord be like the sun when it rises in all of its brightness. So the land had peace for 40 years.” – Judges 5:31
Women, do not go home.
Stand up as Deborah the judge and prophet of Israel did.
Be faithful as Mary the mother of Jesus was.
Hold on to your hope in the same way Ruth and Naomi did.
Sit at His feet, the place of a disciple, the way Mary Magdalene did.
Spend your days worshiping and declaring the Lord as Anna the Prophet did.
Pray with the ferocity of Hannah, the mother of Samuel.
Defy the evil rulers to protect your people like the midwives Puah and Shiphrah did.
Minister to the hearts of others the way Priscilla did.
Be brave like the most blessed women Jael and wield that tent peg fearlessly.
"Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness, in the heavenly places” Ephesians 6:12