Judges 4

1 The children of Israel again did that which was evil in the LORD’s sight, when Ehud was dead. 2 The LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth of the Gentiles. 3 The children of Israel cried to the LORD, for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and he mightily oppressed the children of Israel for twenty years. 4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, judged Israel at that time. 5 She lived under Deborah’s palm tree between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the children of Israel came up to her for judgement. 6 She sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh Naphtali, and said to him, “Hasn’t the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded, ‘Go and lead the way to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? 7 I will draw to you, to the river Kishon, Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into your hand.’” 8 Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 She said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the journey that you take won’t be for your honor; for the LORD will sell Sisera into a woman’s hand.” Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together to Kedesh; and ten thousand men followed him; and Deborah went up with him. 11 Now Heber the Kenite had separated himself from the Kenites, even from the children of Hobab, Moses’ brother-in-law, and had pitched his tent as far as the oak in Zaanannim, which is by Kedesh. 12 They told Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to Mount Tabor. 13 Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles, to the river Kishon. 14 Deborah said to Barak, “Go; for this is the day in which the LORD has delivered Sisera into your hand. Hasn’t the LORD gone out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him. 15 The LORD confused Sisera, all his chariots, and all his army, with the edge of the sword before Barak. Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled away on his feet. 16 But Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth of the Gentiles; and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword. There was not a man left. 17 However 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. 18 Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; don’t be afraid.” He came in to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19 He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink; for I am thirsty.” She opened a bottle of milk, and gave him a drink, and covered him. 20 He said to her, “Stand in the door of the tent, and if any man comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there any man here?’ you shall say, ‘No.’” 21 Then Jael Heber’s wife took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him, and struck the pin into his temples, and it pierced through into the ground; for he was in a deep sleep; so he fainted and died. 22 Behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you seek.” He came to her; and behold, Sisera lay dead, and the tent peg was in his temples. 23 So God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel on that day. 24 The hand of the children of Israel prevailed more and more against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–3

The land had rest for eighty years, which should have confirmed them in their religion; but it made them secure, and indulge their lusts. Thus the prosperity of fools destroys them. Jabin and his general Sisera, mightily oppressed Israel. This enemy was nearer than any of the former. Israel cried unto the Lord, when distress drove them to him, and they saw no other way of relief. Those who slight God in prosperity, will find themselves under a necessity of seeking him in trouble.

Verses 4–9

Deborah was a prophetess; one instructed in Divine knowledge by the inspiration of the Spirit of God. She judged Israel as God’s mouth to them; correcting abuses, and redressing grievances. By God’s direction, she ordered Barak to raise an army, and engage Jabin’s forces. Barak insisted much upon her presence. Deborah promised to go with him. She would not send him where she would not go herself. Those who in God’s name call others to their duty, should be ready to assist them in it. Barak values the satisfaction of his mind, and the good success of his enterprise, more than mere honour.

Verses 10–16

Siser’s confidence was chiefly in his chariots. But if we have ground to hope that God goes before us, we may go on with courage and cheerfulness. Be not dismayed at the difficulties thou meetest with in resisting Satan, in serving God, or suffering for him; for is not the Lord gone before thee? Follow him then fully. Barak went down, though upon the plain the iron chariots would have advantage against him: he quitted the mountain in dependence on the Divine power; for in the Lord alone is the salvation of his people, Jer 3:23. He was not deceived in his confidence. When God goes before us in our spiritual conflicts, we must bestir ourselves; and when, by his grace, he gives us some success against the enemies of our souls, we must improve it by watchfulness and resolution.

Verses 17–24

Sisera’s chariots had been his pride and his confidence. Thus are those disappointed who rest on the creature; like a broken reed, it not only breaks under them, but pierces them with many sorrows. The idol may quickly become a burden, Isa 46:1; what we were sick for, God can make us sick of. It is probable that Jael really intended kindness to Sisera; but by a Divine impulse she was afterwards led to consider him as the determined enemy of the Lord and of his people, and to destroy him. All our connexions with God’s enemies must be broken off, if we would have the Lord for our God, and his people for our people. He that had thought to have destroyed Israel with his many iron chariots, is himself destroyed with one iron nail. Thus the weak things of the world confound the mighty. The Israelites would have prevented much mischief, if they had sooner destroyed the Canaanites, as God commanded and enabled them: but better be wise late, and buy wisdom by experience, than never be wise.

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