Deborah & Barak

Judges 5:12-18

12   “Awake, awake, Deborah!
    Awake, awake, break out in a song!
  Arise, Barak, lead away your captives,
    O son of Abinoam.
13   Then down marched the remnant of the noble;
    the people of the LORD marched down for me against the mighty.
14   From Ephraim their root they marched down into the valley,1
    following you, Benjamin, with your kinsmen;
  from Machir marched down the commanders,
    and from Zebulun those who bear the lieutenant’s2 staff;
15   the princes of Issachar came with Deborah,
    and Issachar faithful to Barak;
    into the valley they rushed at his heels.
  Among the clans of Reuben
    there were great searchings of heart.
16   Why did you sit still among the sheepfolds,
    to hear the whistling for the flocks?
  Among the clans of Reuben
    there were great searchings of heart.
17   Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan;
    and Dan, why did he stay with the ships?
  Asher sat still at the coast of the sea,
    staying by his landings.
18   Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death;
    Naphtali, too, on the heights of the field.


[1] 5:14 Septuagint; Hebrew in Amalek

[2] 5:14 Hebrew commander’s



Deborah & Barak

Judges 5:1-11

The Song of Deborah and Barak

5:1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day:

  “That the leaders took the lead in Israel,
    that the people offered themselves willingly,
    bless the LORD!

  “Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes;
    to the LORD I will sing;
    I will make melody to the LORD, the God of Israel.

  “LORD, when you went out from Seir,
    when you marched from the region of Edom,
  the earth trembled
    and the heavens dropped,
    yes, the clouds dropped water.
  The mountains quaked before the LORD,
    even Sinai before the LORD,1 the God of Israel.

  “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
    in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned,
    and travelers kept to the byways.
  The villagers ceased in Israel;
    they ceased to be until I arose;
    I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.
  When new gods were chosen,
    then war was in the gates.
  Was shield or spear to be seen
    among forty thousand in Israel?
  My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel
    who offered themselves willingly among the people.
    Bless the LORD.

10   “Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys,
    you who sit on rich carpets2
    and you who walk by the way.
11   To the sound of musicians3 at the watering places,
    there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the LORD,
    the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel.

  “Then down to the gates marched the people of the LORD.


[1] 5:5 Or before the Lord, the One of Sinai, before the Lord

[2] 5:10 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain; it may connote saddle blankets

[3] 5:11 Or archers; the meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain



Deborah & Barak

Judges 4:13-24

13 Sisera called out all his chariots, 900 chariots of iron, and all the men who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. 14 And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the LORD go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. 15 And the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword. And Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16 And Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.

17 But Sisera fled away on foot 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. 18 And Jael came out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord; turn aside to me; do not be afraid.” So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19 And he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. 20 And he said to her, “Stand at the opening of the tent, and if any man comes and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say, ‘No.’” 21 But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died. 22 And behold, as Barak was pursuing Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” So he went in to her tent, and there lay Sisera dead, with the tent peg in his temple.

23 So on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel. 24 And the hand of the people of Israel pressed harder and harder against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.



Deborah & Barak

Judges 4:1-12

Deborah and Barak

4:1 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD after Ehud died. And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him.

11 Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the Kenites, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh.

12 When Sisera was told that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor,



Saturday Study

Balaam  5.18.24

How many times have you made a choice based on desire or gain—where, rather than following the clear warning of God on a matter, you have pushed it until you got your own way? Sometimes it seems like we are getting what we want and then it does not work out as we had expected. Other times, we justify what we want, and we work any angle in order to get it. 

As we read the introduction to Balaam, we notice a couple of things. First, Balaam is not an Israelite (Numbers 22:5). Second, God is fulfilling His promise to strike fear in the hearts of the inhabitants of Canaan (Numbers 22:3). Third, Balaam inquires of the Lord (Numbers 22:8). Fourth, God speaks to Balaam (Numbers 22:9). Fifth, Balaam listens to God but does not obey (Numbers 22:22). Sixth, Balaam cannot do anything contrary to the Lord’s will (Numbers 23:8).

First, Balaam is not an Israelite. Many times it is easy to assume that God only speaks to certain types of people. This is not always the case. God usually speaks through a particular means that He has defined. In the Age of Balaam, God used visions and prophets as His mouthpiece. In the Old Testament, this developed an elitism that Israel was the only people through whom God spoke. But, here we have an instance of a non-Israelite receiving direct communication from God in a very specific manner. We have to understand that this is not the norm. Peter tells us that we have something surer, the prophetic word. God declares His will to all peoples through His word. 

Second, God is fulfilling His promise to strike fear in the hearts of the inhabitants of Canaan. Exodus 23:27 says, “I will send my terror before you, and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.” God promises to go before Israel, and He does. Balak, the king of Moab, is scared, so he calls on Balaam. Balaam has a reputation for divination and power. In essence, Balak knows that he cannot defeat the Israelites in battle. He also understands that there are spiritual realities, and God works in His mighty way. Balak brings together Moab and Midian in hopes of giving themselves more strength. However, God always does what He says He will do. 

Third, Balaam inquires of the Lord (Numbers 22:8). Balaam inquires and asks God what He wants him to do. The irony here is so funny. Balaam is asking God if he can go and curse the people that God brought out of the land of Egypt. Balaam does not have all the data. He does not realize that Israel are the people of the same God that he, Balaam, follows. This should be a warning to us; many times, we lack all the data and pray in our ignorance, whereas, if we were to do the research, we could pray better. We can thank God that He has given His Spirit to pray when we do not know what to pray. This is a good thing for us to keep in mind. Balaam is willing to obey in the form of following directions from the Lord. But, notice that I am not using the word obey in sense of obedience as it relates to Balaam, because He does not obey, even though he has a willingness to submit to the outward command. We will discuss this later. How often do we inquire of the Lord not because we want to obey, but because we know it is necessary and right?

Fourth, God speaks to Balaam (Numbers 22:9). The passage that this verse is in, is key to understanding all of the issues with Balaam. God specifically tells Balaam, “you will not curse these people, for they are blessed.” God clearly tells Balaam what he is not to do—do not go, do not curse. This is a clear declaration by God of what Balaam is, and is not, to do. Balaam listens and sends the men on their way. 

Fourth, Balaam listens to God, but does not obey (Numbers 22:22). This is a major point. This will clarify the problem of contradictory commands in the text. Balaam knew what the command of God was concerning the people of Israel, yet he entertains the princes and tells them he will inquire of the Lord again. We know from other texts in the Bible that the money offered to Balaam was a great temptation. God has specifically told Balaam what he cannot do. This is like when our children know we have said no to something and then start to whine and wheedle or persistently ask, while what they are asking for is harmful and not what is best for them. Obedience is not just following orders; it is having a right heart and attitude. 

Balaam does not obey. He does not have the right heart or attitude based on his willingness to listen to the princes of Moab. How do we know this? Peter tells us, “Forsaking the right way; they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.” This is a common error. Scripture speaks of Balaam’s error on more than one occasion and never in good way. (Jude 1:11, Revelation 2:14). Oftentimes, we think we know what we want, and we are persistent even after God has given us a direct or clear “No” as an answer. We would rather have our stuff than give God obedience. 

God tells Balaam to go, even though God has clearly told Balaam what is, and is not, going to happen. Balaam has a direct command not to curse. Balaam knows that this is what Balak wants Him to do. God gives Balaam warnings along the way—so much so that Balaam is rebuked by a donkey. God hands Balaam over to his sin and Balaam reaps the rewards (Numbers 31:8). 

Fifth, Balaam cannot do anything contrary to the Lord’s will (Numbers 23:8). God allows Balaam to go, but God does not listen to Balaam and curse His people; rather, He makes Balaam bless them. God puts the words in Balaam’s mouth. No matter how much Balaam wants to curse these people, he cannot, because the only thing he can do is what the Lord tells him to do. Though Balaam knows that he cannot curse Israel, He does deal treacherously with the people of Israel. Numbers 31:16 tells us that Balaam caused the people of Israel to act against the Lord. Balaam has the Moabite women lead the men of Israel astray into pagan worship. Remember God had told Israel not to intermarry, as this would lead them away from God. This command continually is disobeyed and the people of Israel end up in captivity because of this sin of idolatry. In Numbers 25, we see that the Israelites followed after other women and they followed after the other gods. Balaam had instigated this.

Balaam is a figure that we can look at and be thankful to God for His work and plan. God tells us clearly in Joshua 24:10 that He would not listen to Balaam. God is not at our beck and call. Throughout the story, Balaam seeks God, hoping for a change, and it never happens. God has a clear plan He has laid down from the foundation of the world. This plan is according to His own infinite, wise counsel. We have seen how God always fulfills His word. It is a refuge for us. 

How are you trusting in the promises of God, relying on Him, following Him in all things with a right heart and right attitude? In what ways are you following after the error of Balaam? How are material things more important than the Word of the Lord? Spend some time meditating and reading God’s Word and ask the Spirit to illuminate these things. 

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church

*Special thanks to J. Taylor for his help with this week’s devotional.