Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
Is there a person in your life that causes sparks to fly just like iron scraping iron?
That person may be your Jabin. He was king in Hazor, a city state of Canaan during the time of the judges. God sold the Israelites into his hand because they went back to their wanton ways after Ehud died.
There had been peace in the land for 80 years. The longest time of peace recorded in Judges. Evidently, Ehud had kept the people on the godly track during that time by restraining and punishing everything that smacked of idolatry, keeping them in service to the one, true God Almighty.
This cycle of alienating themselves from God always resulted in God alienating them – not losing their position as His chosen people, but losing freedom, blessings and His favor. By His justice and power, He placed them in the hands of those who could chastise them according to His will. So along comes King Jabin of Hazor, a different king than the one from Joshua 11. Since more than 120 years had passed, he was most likely a grandson or great grandson of the original Jabin.
During that time, Hazor was rebuilt, and the Canaanites re-inhabited the city bringing back its strength and power to its original state. The lax and lazy Israelites allowed this build-up and essentially became slaves to people who were ordained by God to be slaves to them (Genesis 9:25).
This reminds me that there are many people we allow to surround us (and that we even cultivate), but who are definitely not wholesome to our spiritual well-being. Once we have eliminated some influence out of our lives, we must be on guard that our lifestyle is changed as well, otherwise we find that bad influence larger than ever hovering over our shoulders and infiltrating our minds (Matthew 12:43-45).
God raised up Deborah.
Part of Speech: noun feminine
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H1696 (in the sense of orderly motion)
Related word - H1696 - dâbar
1) to speak, declare, converse, command, promise, warn, threaten, sing
1a) (Qal) to speak
1b) (Niphal) to speak with one another, talk
1c1) to speak
1c2) to promise
1d) (Pual) to be spoken
1e) (Hithpael) to speak
1f) (Hiphil) to lead away, put to flight
Part of Speech: verb
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root
Scholars diverge on Deborah’s husband, some saying that Deborah was from the place of torches (Lappidoth) or that she was a maker of wicks for the Tabernacle lamps. I believe that is going too far from the text. Even though there is no other person named Lapidoth in the Bible, it does not mean that was not a real man and husband to Deborah. After all the Bible talks of only one Jabez, one Susannah, and one Huldah.
We know several things about Deborah:
1. She was intimate with God – prophetess.
2. Being a prophetess, she was instructed by the Spirit of God.
3. God trusted her to speak His words accordingly.
4. She judged Israel in a position of great authority given by God.
Her job description comes from that word translated judge:
Shâphaṭ translated judge here is a verb and is Deborah’s job description.
1) to judge, govern, vindicate, punish
1a1) to act as law-giver or judge or governor (of God, man)
1a1a) to rule, govern, judge
1a2) to decide controversy (of God, man)
1a3) to execute judgment
1a3a) discriminating (of man)
1a3c) condemning and punishing
1a3d) at theophanic advent for final judgment
1b1) to enter into controversy, plead, have controversy together
1b2) to be judged
1c) (Poel) judge, opponent-at-law (participle)
So we can gather from this that Deborah had God’s full authority for judging His people. She was in charge of meting out chastisement and drawing away from idol worship.
Reading Judges 4-5 we can get an excellent understanding of just how God expanded her judging region from local to national.
King Jabin of Hazor lived near or in the confines of Harosheth where Barak lived. We can assume that he and his kin had had some run-ins with Jabin. None of that bore the fruit of freedom, though, until he had his marching papers from God.
We have to remember that until God is ready, has paved our path, and has readied us, all our efforts will never bear the fruit of God’s will.
Wiersbe says in his book, Be Available: Accepting the Challenge to Confront the Enemy, that because Deborah went with Barak it suggests his request was not out of the bounds of God’s will. I’m not sure I agree with that assessment. I think the fact that Barak lost the honor of the conquest for the men, and God gave it to the women makes it abundantly clear that Deborah’s presence on the battlefield was not in God’s perfect will.
In light of the recent ruling that women are now cleared to fight on the battlefield, I think this particular passage has a crucial message for our military today. Chapter 5, Deborah’s song, does not illuminate any swashbuckling that Deborah may have done on the battlefield. In fact, God is the sole fighter in the beginning with the earthquake and the torrential rain making iron chariots completely unusable in the battle. God “routed” meaning caused great confusion in Sisera’s army, which made the slaughter of the opposing army a matter of ease for Barak’s army. The actual killing of the army’s general happened inside a tent in privacy by the hand of a woman. Does this mean that women should stay off the battlefield? I think so, but you be the judge.
Of course, there could have been many different reasons for Barak’s initial hesitation to go into full scale battle: fear, desire for a blow-by-blow instruction, plain unbelief, or perhaps humility that God had chosen him for this important deliverance. There’s a stark difference between him and other deliverers such as Moses and David. Barak was getting his marching papers from Deborah and not from the mouth of God directly. His hesitation could have stemmed from the fact he did not hear God’s call, nor was he comfortable pursuing something so dangerous to life and limb. The Bible does not share with us Barak’s innermost thoughts and feelings. The whole story is from Deborah’s perspective.
Applying this to our daily lives goes this way. If we are not in constant communication with the Lord, then He is dependent upon others to talk to us. This comes about because we are not regularly reading the Bible, and we are not going to regular worship and Sunday School. We’ll sometimes get that instruction from our pastor (if we regularly go to church), sometimes from Christian friends, sometimes from family members, and sometimes from strangers. The only way to be sure that it is instruction from the Lord that we are hearing is to make sure it coincides with Scripture. But, if we lack that intimate relationship with God, we’re never sure we’re hearing the truth.
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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